It’s checkride day (congratulations!) and you have been authorized to solo a short distance to the nearby airport where your local designated pilot examiner works. You are generally familiar with that airport from past practice sessions in its traffic pattern, so you have made a confident arrival and a nice landing.
With the ground phase of the checkride complete, you and the DPE are aboard your trainer, ready to do some flying. But as you head out toward the runway in use—which will require a long roll down the lone runway to its takeoff end, absent a parallel taxiway—an uneasy thought comes to mind: Is there a place to taxi off and do an engine runup and pretakeoff checks at the runway’s end?
Take the advice of Mary Latimer, a flight instructor and DPE at Wilbarger County Airport in Vernon, Texas: Do not leave the answer to this important question to chance.
Perhaps there is a place to run up on the taxiway that leads from the ramp to the runway. But if there is no “hammerhead” area along the taxiway, that option may be foreclosed. You could perform the pretakeoff checklists before taxiing onto the runway, but if there is traffic following you out, that won’t work.
What about running up on the runway, in position for takeoff? Sitting there with your back to the final approach has risks, and might elicit a frown from your examiner. From that location you might do the runup before turning around for takeoff—that is, facing the final approach course—still an awkward scenario, “but at least you’d be facing traffic,” Latimer said.
Clearly the ideal place to have done your runup under such circumstances would have been on the ramp (considerately removed from other aircraft), a decision you would have made if you had done your homework by remembering to study the options in advance.
“Not every airport is laid out the way your home airport is,” Latimer says, adding that some pilots wrongly assume that if the airport they usually fly from has a certain feature, such as a runup area, other airports will too.
Whatever options you might consider, do not inform your DPE that under the circumstances, you will skip the runup, and take off.
One applicant Latimer flew with made that decision, she said, recalling that the checkride “did not go well.”