The Checkride

August 21, 2008

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.

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