A failed checkride turned out to be a key learning experience for Mihir Trivedi, who used it to his advantage to complete his private pilot certificate in August. The 2017 AOPA You Can Fly High School Flight Training Scholarship winner breezed through initial training, solo, and cross-country requirements by flying five to six times a week throughout the summer.
However, he was pink-slipped for his simulated engine out performance during a checkride—a procedure required by the Airman Certification Standards for the Private Pilot-Airplane certificate.
“We did all the maneuvers and started in the pattern for short field landings, soft field landings, and things like that,” during the initial checkride. “The last thing was a simulated engine failure and it was a windy day, with a crosswind, too,” Trivedi recalled. “I was flying a bit wide, going off course, and I dumped my flaps too early. I knew I wasn’t going to make the field so I had to add power” and perform a go-around, which sealed his fate.
Two weeks after the failed checkride Trivedi was again behind the controls of the Cessna 172P—with the same designated pilot examiner—and this time he passed with flying colors.
“Once he cut the power, my approach and my glide were fine although I was pretty high at the time. I didn’t really land on the center line but a little left of it and pretty far down [the runway]. The ACS standard is just to make it to the field, so I did that for sure.”
After so much practice, Trivedi was relieved about the emergency landing and “was fairly confident” that he passed the practical exam. “When we got back I turned off the aircraft, tied it down, and he [the examiner] asked me ‘Is the airplane secure?’ I said, ‘Of course it is,’ and then I saw the left tie down wasn’t fastened.” The nervous omission made Trivedi’s heart sink for a moment before the examiner turned to him and said, “Congratulations.”
The San Jose, California-based 18-year-old had begun his initial pilot training in January with money he borrowed from his older brother Naman, whom he promptly paid back with the scholarship funds.
Trivedi was so thankful of his brother’s generosity that he honored his older sibling with first-flight privileges. Trivedi took Naman and Naman’s girlfriend on an aerial tour of the Santa Cruz Mountains valley beginning at his Reid-Hillview of Santa Clara County Airport home base. He flew past Anderson Lake, Coyote Lake, and down to the San Martin Airport—a scenic route cradled by 4,265-foot Mount Hamilton and the Lick Observatory to the east and 3,488-foot Mount Umunhum to the west.
He said he “felt a little bit bad,” when he asked his female passenger for her weight before the flight. Trivedi also wanted to keep the experience short and positive for his brother who he knew “kind of gets airsick.”
The AOPA High School Flight Training Scholarship program launched in 2016 and focuses on helping young men and women pursue their dreams of becoming a pilot. This program is part of the larger High School Aviation Initiative, which is working with high schools to develop more aviation science, technology, engineering, and math programs.
The AOPA High School Aviation Initiative is one of the components of You Can Fly, an umbrella program to build the pilot community with initiatives to support flying clubs, encourage best practices in flight training, get lapsed pilots back in the air, bring AOPA's resources and expertise to pilot groups across the country, and help high school students learn about careers in aviation.
Cindy Hasselbring, the director of the AOPA high school curriculum, said a number of the association’s 2017 scholarship winners have soloed and several have gone on to complete their private pilot certificates. “It’s very exciting to see them earn their wings.”
The incoming Massachusetts Institute of Technology freshman said he had his sights set on either an electronic engineering and computer science degree; or an aeronautical engineering degree. “I’m going to continue flying around Boston just to keep up during the school year,” Trivedi told AOPA via telephone while packing for his cross-country move. “Mom’s going to miss me but Dad’s excited for the journey.”
And what about his long-range aviation plans? “I definitely want to apply for the astronaut corps, it looks like it’ll be a pretty good place to be in the future.”