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My checkride with the FAA

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You guys have been with me my entire aviation career and I consider all of you family.

Last October, I had an off-airport landing that turned into a write off of the aircraft, a twin-engine Cessna.

It was 3:30 in the morning, 200 ft. ceilings, and foggy. I had already gone missed at my destination and continued onto an alternate which was reporting 500 ft ceilings and ½ mile vis, plenty for an LPV… or so I thought. I got about a two to two and a half mile final and saw some lights that turned out to be a house instead of the airport environment. Through a series of bad decisions and fatigue induced thinking, I descended far too low and impacted the ground 1 mile west of the runway. I immediately gave it full power and climbed out and then saw the actual runway and landed and got the airplane in the hanger.

Long story short, the FAA started an investigation, and that leads us to yesterday.

I was mailed the certified letter, etc. that leads to investigation, gave statements, and put the ride off to yesterday as I wanted to use the new company airplane for it, that didn’t end up happening and I borrowed a different airplane.

I got there, we went through all the sign-in procedures and the airworthiness guys went out to ramp the airplane. I went into the briefing room and the examiner (inspector?) briefed me, told me what parts of the ACS we needed to cover, commercial mins, etc. He also told me what his plan was, and all the general check ride stuff a DPE covers i.e. failure, pass, continuation.

We got in the airplane, went through the checklists, and he said he was going to create the accident flight as close as possible, so two approaches, one at a different airport and then another approach back into the FSDO airport.

We took off, I flew a ILS into the first airport with a missed approach and a hold with the AP, flew back to the original airport and hand flew the GPS approach to a full stop landing, maybe 0.6 in the air. He was a cool examiner and it was one of the most stress-free check rides I have had.

All in all, it wasn’t an airplane failure or bad flying that caused the entire action, it was a failure between the yoke and the seatback and I have learned a lot from the episode, including going to recurrent training every year whether the insurance requires it or not. I’ve also learned to be more of a manager and less of an employee for the company I work with.

Our FSDO guys are very professional, objective and caring. I know this bucks the trend of “If the FAA isn’t happy blah blah blah” but I have had nothing but good experiences with them and I appreciate their objectivity and lack of placing blame throughout the entire process.

Relevant METARS, the accident was at 0802UTC

KEOK 010655Z AUTO 05005KT 2SM BR OVC003 14/14 A3014 RMK AO2
KEOK 010715Z AUTO VRB04KT 2SM BR OVC003 14/14 A3015 RMK AO2
KEOK 010755Z AUTO 03003KT 1SM BR OVC003 14/14 A3015 RMK AO2
KEOK 010815Z AUTO 03005KT 1/2SM BR OVC002 14/14 A3015 RMK AO2
KEOK 010835Z AUTO 03003KT 1/2SM BR OVC002 14/14 A3015 RMK AO2

I am not saying this to make my head bigger, its to add context that this can happen to anyone. I am a 3000+ hr pilot with 1000+ hrs in twin Cessnas and 500 hrs flying last year.

30 seconds of lackadaisical attitude and I could have ruined my career.

Edited by remingtonbox
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Thanks for the update Rem, happy the outcome wasn't worse. 3:30 in the morning with 200ft ceiling and foggy is not a good time to be flying.

Oh well, no one injured except the aircraft, and any  landing you walk away from is a good one.




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Way to get back on the horse and ride it like a pro Remington. I think the FAA well knows that bad things happen when bad weather and fatigue hits a pilot, I'm glad the situation didn't end up worse and your still around to move on. Keep on trucking. 

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Glad you got things sorted out, it can happen to the best of them. Tiredness  and bad weather can be a bastard whether you're flying a plane, navigating a ship or driving a vehicle.  Just glad you didn't actually land on the house!  Many years ago a BOAC VC-10 came within a few metres of landing on the A4 Bath Road which runs alongside the north boundary of Heathrow.  They had popped out of low clouds at night and mistook the lights of a major trunk road for the runway lights! Luckily they pulled up in time but it scared the crap out of the locals! We all learn by our mistakes no matter what.

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