Rich's Quest For Flight

My father was a pilot. He died doing what he loved to do. It has been a goal of my life to become a pilot. Now I have chance to do so. Follow me as I pursue my dream.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Today is an important day.

Medical Certificate: 4-28-06
First Solo: 6-18-06
FAA Written Exam: 8-6-06
Solo Cross Country: To do
Checkride (Verbal & Practical): To do

I started working on the knowledge test right as I was starting my flying lessons. There was the big handbook by Jeppesen to read. Then there was the companion test prep book to go with the handbook. And let's not forget the test prep package from ASA with all the DVDs and dry commentary. There are 657 questions in the FAA test bank, and I must have answered 550 of them, some of them multiple times. Today it all paid off:


The score may make it seem like it was easy, and in some respects it was. You are presented with 3 choices to each answer. One of the choices is frequently improbable. The math problems aren't as easy because you still have to do the calculations. Sometimes with the word problems you can take a good guess. The bottom line is you can't just take this test blind and expect to pass. You have to at least be familiar with the material.

I arrived at the Wisconsin Aviation Flight School in Madison, where they are a designated computer testing center and presented my driver's license and logbook endorsement for verification. The proctor then started the LaserGrade interface that would administer the test. Once I was registered, the application took me through a brief tutorial to explain all of the features. Then it was on to the test. Sixty questions, 150 minutes to complete. The software builds the list of questions during registration, so no two tests are alike, and there's no practical way to just memorize the test. Things went along fine until the first question that required a course direction in the answer. I went to the figure, put the overlay on the course (you're not allowed to write in the supplement) and then......wait a second. Something missing here. No plotter. I FORGOT MY PLOTTER!!!! I'm hosed, for sure!

Now hold on, no need to panic. We can improvise. Let's look at the line. (They had a plastic overlay with a cross hair on it to measure distance). Wouldn't you know, it was a perfect split of the ordinal. And once I did the calculations, the result matched the choice on the screen. And, as luck would have it, the only other problem involving a course direction laid out the same way. So I was spared. A nice feature in the testing application was a flight computer emulator. I found it useful to double check my answers against what I was getting on my manual computer.

But alas, to the bad news. I did miss three questions. It wasn't until I got home that I was able to research the question bank to find them. One question I doubt I would have gotten correct, but the other two were quite preventable. So here they are (I'll leave the answers off to give you all a chance to answer them for yourself. Leave your guesses in the comments):

1. With respect to the certification of aircraft, which is a category of aircraft?
A) Normal, utility, acrobatic.
B) Airplane, rotorcraft, glider.
C) Landplane, seaplane.

2. (Refer to figure 4.) What is the maximum structural cruising speed?
A) 100 MPH.
B) 165 MPH.
C) 208 MPH.

Since you can't see figure 4 here, I will tell you that the answer I chose was answer C. It appears that the correct answer was answer B.

3. The normal radius of the outer area of Class C airspace is
A) 5 nautical miles.
B) 15 nautical miles.
C) 20 nautical miles.

I'm still kicking myself on this one. I spent 5 minutes looking at this one and looking at the Class C airports in the summary, and couldn't see the right answer. Turns out I was measuring the RADIUS when they were looking for DIAMETER. D'oh!

Chance is, even if I had those right, there's no telling how many others were half-baked guesses that could have gone the other way. According to 2005 FAA statistics, 95.5% of all test takers passed the test with a mean score of 84.9. So I didn't do too bad.

That's it for now, folks. Still a light schedule; the night cross country will be on Saturday the 19th. So check back then for the next installment of Rich's Quest For Flight.


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