Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Instrument Written Test -- Complete!

Last weekend, I made it through the rest of the King Instrument DVDs. Now, these DVDs are excellent; however, by "excellent" I mean that they present the information needed for test preparation in a very clear, concise and memorable manner. In the end, though, it's still studying for a test, and therefore pretty painful. So I just powered through the rest of the DVDs and called it quits.

Incidentally, these DVDs had a problem on my computer (Windows XP) where any attempt to watch a second video clip would cause the application to crash hard. This is of course problematic, because the course is structured in such a way that you have to watch a video clip, then answer questions, then watch another video clip. I had been quitting the application after answering questions, before the next video clip, and restarting it. What a pain! I tried getting a new DVD drive, but to no avail. Finally I ended up downloading a codec pack from, and somehow installing that fixed whatever the problem was. I guess the biggest reason to put this info in here is just in case someone else has that problem and manages to type the right search words into their favorite search engine.

Anyway, so I finished the DVDs, fixing a technical problem along the way. Monday morning, I was feeling pretty good about myself, so I took a practice exam: 2 wrong, 97%. Pretty good! Later on Monday, I had to go down to the flying club to do some paperwork for a Piper Warrior checkout. I told my instructor about my result, and asked him for an endorsement to take the exam, which he gave me. This saved me a lot of time; my other option was to get the endorsement from King, but to do that, I would have had to take three practice exams, mail or fax the results to them, and have them mail me the endorsement. So, with my endorsement, I reserved the club's CATS testing room, and called up CATS testing: "I'd like to take the instrument airplane exam." "When?" "Tomorrow at 8:30 am." "Sure, no problem."

So Tuesday morning, after scraping ICE off my car window (I know, I know, what am I complaining about...but I live in the San Francisco Bay Area!! This is NOT normal!!!), I got to the club only five minutes late (the 20 minute drive took 55 minutes, thanks to traffic), and started the test in the unheated room. I went through the questions at a pretty deliberate pace, but it still took me about an hour and five minutes. There was one question I kept vacillating on; the rest, I either knew or I had no idea. I submitted the results, and...97%, I missed 2 again! At least I'm consistent...

Based on the codes they gave me, I could guess at the questions I missed. One was, when does the pressure altitude equal the true altitude? I chose "when the atmospheric pressure is 29.92" but the correct answer was "in standard atmospheric conditions." This is the question that I spent a long time deliberating on -- I have the unfortunate ability to justify anything in my head, so I basically justified the wrong one with faulty logic. The bottom line? Temperature DOES matter. The other question had to do with what services were available on a given ILS frequency, and it came down to whether it has TACAN or not. I believe I said it did, whereas it did not. I have not yet looked up how to determine that, but I figure I'll be learning that in my flight lessons.

About flight lessons -- I'm not really sure how to handle this. Sergey is only instructing part time now, as is his first recommendation. And I'm still toying with the idea of doing a 9-day course, though it seems less appealing now than it did before. We shall see; it should be a fun process no matter what!

Meanwhile, weather permitting, we'll be flying out to Lompoc to see Nirmala's parents this weekend, and then back up to Petaluma on Sunday for a show, opening for Tower Of Power. Sweet!

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