The Checkride

Next Monday, weather permitting, I will start a three day period containing three consecutive check rides. For pilots, that’s not a fun series of days. The checkrides themselves are rather vanilla in flavor: conduct rather boring autorotations, normal and steep approaches, demonstrate knowledge of emergency procedures, perform some turns in holding, and a few instrument approaches. However, should I fail a checkride, the ramifications for me are severe, with consequences including the potential of losing my flying status.

This leads me to refocus on the purpose of the checkride. The purpose of a checkride is to establish whether I am capable of meeting a given aviation standard. That standard does not exist in a vacuum. The standard exists so I may properly employ the taxpayer’s aircraft in a tactically responsible and effective way, in direct support of other American and allied forces. It is not about me and my piloting skills. It’s about the people who need my support, and my obligations as a professional military officer, the Constitution, and the taxpayer’s money.

Should I fail a checkride, I ought to demand appropriate action be taken against me, as that would be the only responsible, professional thing to expect. It would be a failure of the professional ethic for me to retain flight status with a checkride failure.

My flying career is of little consequence in the scheme of things. I am of equally little consequence. However, my obligations to my fellow Marines, and to my country, are burdensome. It is with these obligations in mind, not my personal fortunes, that I prepare for the checkrides.

Needless to say, I probably won’t be posting much next week.

14 Responses to The Checkride

  1. A.E. says:


    Best of luck!

  2. smitteneagle says:

    Thank you, AE, but I like to think that I make my own luck. I shouldn’t require any of yours!

  3. “I make my own luck”

    Work as if everything depended on you, pray as if everything depended on God. I think St. Teresa of Avila first said that.

    So, do make your own luck. In fact, you won’t need luck. Professional competence is not about luck.

    And I’ll pray for you anyway.

  4. Schwabbeau says:

    In my experience with checkrides, Murphy’s Law applies in spades. So if fate can conspire to undermine you on checkride day, I’d take all the luck I can get. That being said, I’m sure you’ll be fine.

    I’m not sure if the part of your post in bold is a jab at me, which I’m fine with, but I’ll just say this: It is precisely because of the aircraft and people I support that makes it all about me and my flying and decision making abilities. As the Aircraft and Mission Commander for my crew and my airplane, if I’m not up to snuff, then the airplanes that don’t get my gas, and ultimately the mission, suffer.

    I’m starting to get the picture that you and I agree far more than we disagree, we’re merely coming at the same conclusion from different viewpoints. I think I can best illustrate my point from your statements:

    ‘My flying career is of little consequence in the scheme of things. I am of equally little consequence.’

    I disagree with this as much as I agree with the conclusion:

    ‘However, my obligations to my fellow Marines, and to my country, are burdensome.’

    If you are of little consequence, then it is of little consequence if you fail. I feel that I am of great consequence, precisely because of the obligations to my fellow Airmen.

  5. smitteneagle says:


    Agree on Murphy.

    It was no jab. If I do jab, I will be much more direct about it. I stab in the chest, not the back.

    I haven’t seen enough of your thought to know whether I agree or disagree, but I invite you to write more. I have no quarrel with you thus far.

    Semper Fidelis,

  6. A.E. says:

    To re-phrase, “Best of luck so you don’t need any luck.”

  7. smitteneagle says:

    Very well, AE. Thanks!

  8. Jonathan says:

    Good fortune. I suspect you will do fine.

  9. Schwabbeau says:

    I guess I had two main points.

    1. By putting myself first (studying my regs, knowing my systems cold) I am supporting my brethren.

    2. Don’t sell yourself short. We all may be cogs in the machine, but if one cog falls out, the clock never reaches morning.

  10. Schwabbeau says:


    So how did your checkride go?

  11. smitteneagle says:

    Thanks, gents.

    Two of them went fine. Third one didn’t happen due to weather issues, so it’s delayed.

    Thanks for asking.


  12. ElamBend says:

    what airframe you flying?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: