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Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Fri Jul 09, 2004 9:00 am

At first I was a little reluctant to post this here because I didn't think it was worth anyone's time, and a lot of our knowledgeable members left, but to hell with it, I'm posting it anyways.

I had my Stage II IFR check yesterday, and it epitomized the rule of thumb that "once one thing goes wrong, the rest of the flight goes to hell." I was definitely prepared for it, because my previous flight with my CFII went fine, I shot some nice approaches, fine holds, everything was ready to go. I spent the week cramming for the Oral portion, and I knew every detail about the ILS system, down to the distance down the runway the glideslope unit lies. I was ready to nail this one.

We flew before the oral (which, much to my chagrin, was only 5 minutes). After departing, we swung over to shoot the VOR-A approach into a local airport. I've done this numerous times before, but, for some reason I was just so nervous this time. Obviously, I was on a stage check, so naturally you'd expect to be a little nervous, but this time, I was just overly nervous. The cockpit atmosphere wasn't at ease, I'll put it that way. What was to follow was the absolute most stupidest mistake I've ever made as a pilot. One mistake that could have been potentially dangerous, let alone downright embarrassing.

I was instructed by ATC to fly a heading to intercept the VOR approach course. I flew the heading, tuned in the approach course before hand, but for some reason, and I still cannot figure out exactly why, other than maybe being too nervous and not thinking straight, I just sat there, and watched the needle swing by. I blew past the approach course on a vector, but for some reason I was waiting for a "from" flag on the VOR display so I could turn inbound (I thought I was tracking a radial instead of a vector). After full deflection she asked me what I was doing, and I said I was waiting for a FROM indication. At this point I was so confused that I shouldn't have even been in the air. She said "No" and yanked the control to the right and I'm sitting here trying to figure out what I did wrong (because I am so confused at this point), I twisted to OBS to center the needle to figure out what radial I was on and was told again "No" and that I don't know "what the hell (you're) doing," which at that point I totally agreed with her.

So now I've been snapped at, I'm horribly confused, and it takes me a little while to figure out exactly what I did wrong. If I was just told "dude you're blowing past the course" I would have immediately figured out what I did. So now at this point I'm not flying anymore and I finally come to and realize what I did wrong, and am so embarrassed, and just absolutely pissed at the stupidity of the error and the fact that I've never done anything like this before...ever, and I just totally resign and was about to just say you know what I can't fly right now because I'm just going to waste money, and was going to just take the plane back. But I just kept going for some reason.

So I ended up finishing off that approach, then shooting another few which were fine, then shooting a VOR hold, and then, I was to shoot a partial panel intersection hold at some made up intersection, and while I was programming the VOR's and figuring out where I was (Intersection holds are probably my weakness in IFR stuff), I blew past it. So I then I had to turn around and re-intercept it, and I entered it, but my wind correction work stunk (I had trouble picturing the WC angles without my DG) and I had had enough at that point anyways.

On approach back to the home airport, at minimums, I looked out under the hood and began my flare. At that exact moment, 5 seconds before I land, I hear "Don't land hard, now, it screws up the instruments." Well...guess what I did after I heard that?

Sometimes, times like this, I just feel like maybe I'm not cut out for this. But other times, after great flights, I feel like I'm made for it. I've never screwed up on a stage-check or a checkride before, ever. This definitely humbled me, and I got maybe a couple hours of sleep last night trying to figure out what the hell happened up there, because none of that should have happened.

It wasn't just some mistake. Not like I forgot to time the ILS. It was a simple "intercept" which I do a million times each flight, that I screwed up on, because my mind was in the clouds (no pun intended). And it was a pretty big mistake (which is what really, really bothers me. A big, stupid mistake).

Well that's that, I'm going to go nap this off I feel like total crap today. I'll see you guys soon.


[Edited 2004-07-09 02:03:16]
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RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Fri Jul 09, 2004 9:09 am

Don't worry, this happens to everyone.

On my CPL checkride, I was flying a present heading of 230. The controller then instructed me to turn left 320, which was obviously not in the ordinary. I even turned the heading bug the right way, but since my head is such a vast expanse of vaccum, I proceeded to turn right.

He took control, we went home. It's funny the types of things that happen when you're under pressure and don't know how to deal with it properly. But as your experience grows, these things will slowly fade with time as your general confidence with aviation grows. And when you look back years later at something like this, it would just be another minor rut in the road that you pretty much forgot about.

Again, it has happened to everybody. Jump back in the saddle, and carry on. Lots of good years ahead yet.
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RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Fri Jul 09, 2004 9:46 am

"Don't worry, this happens to everyone."

Amen to that. Although it's great to learn from others' mistakes, rather than doing the same thing wrong again, screwing up yourself is the most important lesson to learn from.

Why? Because everyone can tell you "do this, do that". You're fine as long as you can do as you were told to, but when it comes to the point that you can't anymore, you're screwed. And you're screwed with either your instructor (clearing up the mess you made) or your friend (without a clue) sitting next to you. You know which is better.

Everyone goes through this, be it in flying lessons, be it in driving lessons, be it in school or college, be it at work or be it in a relationship or marriage. People screw up, they kick their own asses, and they learn to never do the same thing wrong again.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
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RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Fri Jul 09, 2004 11:39 am

On my instrumetn ride, I failed NDB holding. Was told to hold on the 304 course to, read it back, wrote it down, and then set a 034 on the HSI needle for visual reference and proceeded to hold on the wrong bearing.

Don't sweat it. Just means your human. Get back in the saddle and try again.
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RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Fri Jul 09, 2004 11:54 am

Ok, so I have not got a pilot's license, but some thing apply to all skills.

You will occasionally suck the bigtime for no apparent reason. Afterwards you will wonder what that was all about. Sometimes the sucking will happen at inopportune moments. It's called being human. The flip side is that being human means you can think outside the box, which is why we put people in the cockpit along with all the computers.

But you learn from your mistakes. I doubt that you will make those particular ones again.

Remember: If it was easy, anyone could play. When you do pass that test, you will feel so much the prouder. And so will we.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
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RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Fri Jul 09, 2004 12:24 pm

Dude here's the thing. If you're going to bust a stage check, bust it big! Congrats, you did just that. Now get back on the horse and stop yer bitchin'  Smile

Here's the other thing. You're lucky to have had this experience. It is
1) harmless
2) it will leave a lasting impression
3) it could save your ass someday

It wasn't with your regular instructor and you were under stress. Guess what will happen when you're solo in IMC at night (not to mention the checkride)... Speaking of which I have done exactly what you did, at night, alone; luckily all I got was a quick yelling-at by ATC and a heading back on course. But I was exposed to MUCH more risk than you.

Instrument flying is insidious. The things that will get you are not BIG things. They are the little things. Things like setting in '200' on the OBS and not '020'. Things like missing a needle move from one side of the instrument to the other. And even things that you normally wouldn't do... when you start falling behind the plane and you just stare at the instruments wondering what the hell they're telling you and what you should be doing.

I am a big fan of the 'see it, say it, point to it' method of doing ANYTHING in the cockpit, especially when it's in IMC. You see it on the chart and on your instrument. You say it out loud. And you point to it both on the chart and on your instrument. Using this, I've caught a few 'little' things in the past. That way you're using almost all your senses to set and check ONE thing, adding some redundancy to a one man crew. You can't double check things enough IMHO when you are single pilot.

Although you may not feel this way now, you're 'busted' stage check was not a waste, in fact it was worth it's weight in gold. Anyway I'll see you around the airport.
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RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Fri Jul 09, 2004 12:48 pm

Skyguy... very nice with the 'see it, say it, point to it'. I may start using that one myself.

Twin Cessna 812 Victor, Minneapolis Center, we observe your operation in the immediate vicinity of extreme precipitation
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RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Fri Jul 09, 2004 12:52 pm

" Now get back on the horse and stop yer bitchin'"

I think I agree.

Thanks for the advice and words, folks. I spent the day feeling like crap and I forgot that, yeah, this was one mistake, and I'll be making a hell of a lot more in my career. Might as well take something away from each one and learn from it.

Ed, I might have to ask you about that see it say it point it method if you're there tomorrow. Sounds like a good tool.

I'm off for the night.


[Edited 2004-07-09 05:53:28]

RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Fri Jul 09, 2004 9:31 pm

I think you've gotten some really good advice so far. All I want to add to it is that every one of us have had at least one experience like that (one if we're lucky!) The fact of the matter is that past flights aren't really relavant--just the current one. Back on the horse with ye.

One thing, I think that comments such as "you don't know what the hell you are doing" have no place in an instructional environment. Sure, it was a stage check, but that does not mean that it wasn't a learning opportunity. A stage check is not a checkride, and I wish people would get it out of their heads that it is. When instructors make comments like that, it is counterproductive to their purpose.

Anyway, there's my vent...

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RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Sat Jul 10, 2004 3:31 am

Sounds like the check pilot failed the ride too. Se certainly didn't do much to make you feel at ease. That should have been established BEFORE you even got into the airplane!

Don't worry about having a bad flight. It's happened to all of us.

RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Sat Jul 10, 2004 4:23 am

"Sounds like the check pilot failed the ride too."

Seriously! It really pisses me off when people think they can treat less experienced pilots like crap just because they have a few ratings. I don't care if you are a freakin' ATP with every type rating in the book, you still shouldn't treat people like that. That just irritates me!

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RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Sat Jul 10, 2004 5:31 am

"We all have fifteen minutes each day when we act like an idiot. We can only hope it will not be the wrong fifteen minutes today..."

Making a mess out of things every now and then is unavoidable. Focus on handling the mistakes, not the mistakes themselves. Don't think "man, I screwed up there". Think "now, what do I do about this".

I've found that a good help. And I have a lot of experience when it comes to screwing up...  Big grin

I thought I was doing good trying to avoid those airport hotels... and look at me now.
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RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Sat Jul 10, 2004 5:55 am

The only true mistakes are the ones you make more than once.

Stagechecks are great for screwing up. Checkrides aren't. Flying with another instructor is, in most cases, a good experience because they may do things differently than your current instructor. Also, somebody that you fly with can get just as complacent with something you are doing as you can, so it's nice to have an outside opinion once in a while. However, that check instructor was way out of line. I think that should be brought to somebody's attention. You're paying way to much money to be treated like crap becuase you're having a bad flight. That instructor is a professional and their actions were anything but. You were in no danger, as stated earlier.

Just go back, and kick butt the second time around.
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RE: Really Need To Vent...and Maybe Some Advice (long)

Sat Jul 10, 2004 9:19 am

Thanks again, guys.

NormalSpeed, I agree with you, and I personally don't like being snapped at in an airplane while under pressure, because it doesn't help a damn thing, but I don't think I have much of a choice but to take the Stage III with her again.

I requested another check pilot to do it with but apparently I might have not much of a choice (I mean, I should shouldn't I? I'm payin' the bill!).

We'll see what happens.

Thanks again,

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