There’s no better way to get a dialog going about flying than to put forth a set of circumstances that a pilot might have to cope with during a flight, and invite reaction.
Designated pilot examiner Mary Latimer of Texas sparked such a debate in AOPA’s social media channels after posing a checkride scenario, related in the April 18 “Training Tip: Nowhere to runup,” about a pilot’s options for performing a run-up at an airport where no specific run-up area was available.
Suggestions flowed about how to cope with her challenging scenario—one made real by Latimer having administered a number of flight examinations in which pilots had to deal with the exact circumstance she described.
Sharing the practical-test puzzle that those checkride applicants had to solve was an example of scenario-based flight training, which the FAA advocates because it teaches training tasks “in the context of missions and scenarios that mimic the kind of real life flying pilots at all levels will actually do,” according to “An Introduction to Scenario-Based Training.”
Ready for another?
A DPE in the Northwest said he typically reviews the ability of a checkride applicant or flight review candidate to interpret the mountainous area’s airspace at the beginning of the session. Pointing out high terrain on a panel of the Seattle sectional chart, let’s say the spot just to the left of the airspace depiction surrounding Omak Airport, he might probe the pilot’s knowledge by inquiring about minimum weather conditions for a VFR flight in the area.
Giving a correct answer involves more than a rote recital of facts from a source such as Table 3-1-1 of the Aeronautical Information Manual. First, determine the airspace class (outside the ring around Omak, is it Class E or Class G?) then apply the relevant rule.
DPE Eric Gourley of Eastsound, Washington, has observed pilots faltering when explaining operational considerations in areas where charting has changed or airspace is tricky to identify.
To illustrate, he gives a daylight scenario contrasting procedures available to pilots traversing 5,440-foot msl Cascade Pass, a well-used VFR route, below 10,000 feet msl in the absence of several former areas of Class G airspace in the vicinity that reached to that altitude.
“The new charted airspace requires that the pilot must have 3 miles (visibility) any time above 1200' AGL,” he wrote in an email.
“Sounds complicated? It is,” he added.