Private Pilot


You and I are going on a day cross-country flight to one of the destinations selected or agreed upon. It will be just us for now; however, we also will be carrying a cooler full of food and beverages that weighs 50 lbs.

We also have items in the back seat (flight kits, etc.) that weigh 20 lbs. We are flying to the destination to attend a sporting event with friends. I am going along as a passenger and am not a certificated pilot, although I have taken a few lessons and have a basic understanding of flying.

This is the reason we are going on the trip. Be prepared to discuss the aspects of flight planning and variations to this plan as we progress through the oral portion of the practical test.

Practical Test Prep Details

To prepare for the practical test, prepare a VFR cross-country flight using pilotage/dead reckoning to conduct the flight. It is preferred to do a direct line route; however, it is not a requirement. The use of VORs is acceptable as long as all required calculations are included in the planning and the nav log.

I normally conduct practical tests from the KAMW airport so I have three options for a cross-country flight. Select anyone for the practical test.

On the day of the test, the flight plan discussion will be to the first fuel stop; however, make sure you are using real-time weather for the day of the test and be ready to discuss destination or first fuel stop weather. If you determine you will need to make a fuel stop prior to the destination, the nav log and flight plan can be just to the first fuel stop and not the destination. Use of either paper charts or digital charts is acceptable. Prepare a Weight and Balance with my weight at 210.

If the practical test will be conducted at another location, we’ll make an agreement on what the destination airport will be for that practical test.




Additional Testing Details

Make sure you bring your username and password for IACRA. This will be needed to have you sign your application once I have verified your identity in the program.

Have your FTN with you.

Don’t forget your government ID with photo, medical (3rd class minimum or Basic Med), Student Pilot certificate, and SODA if you have one issued. For Basic Med applicants, bring your online certification form.

Logbooks—Be sure to total all pages using only ink. Pencil will not be accepted. The FAA considers your logbook as a legal record. Putting tabs or markings in your logbook so the examiner can easily identify and validate the requirements of §61.109 will definitely speed things up. Marking or annotating all endorsements will also facilitate the process.

Ensure you have all aircraft maintenance logs or records with you. Although it would be highly unusual, bring the MEL/CDL if the aircraft has one approved by the FAA. This will be used during the oral portion in a scenario or may be used in real-time if an unairworthy condition exists at the time of the practical flight portion. 

Make sure you have real-time weather to brief the examiner with for the practical test.

Electronic or printed briefing packets work best for efficient test discussion.

Pre-calculate all performance data available in the aircraft POH. Base all calculations at the time of testing using the precalculated weight from the weight and balance. 

Use my weight of 210 lbs. in your weight and balance calculations.

Don’t forget an E6B and charts to do the cross-country portion of the practical test. 

Bring any course completion certificates if you attended a 14 CFR Part 141 school.

Many questions come up, and unfortunately, I can’t answer all of them here, but I will try to help out by describing a couple of items that are frequently asked.

The general conduct of the practical test will be to meet and go over all the admin aspects such as ensuring you have all required personal and aircraft documents, AKTRs, etc. This normally takes some time, so being extremely familiar with the aircraft records and having your logbook annotated will greatly increase the efficiency of the practical test.

Many times I’m asked if paper VFR charts are a requirement for the cross-country nav portion. They are not. However, having a paper backup is always a good thing.

I’m testing your ability to plan and conduct cross-country navigation. I’m not really concerned about what method you use. They are all acceptable. I routinely turn off the “Own Ship” function on Fore Flight during the flight portion. I need to see that you can fly dead reckoning and pilotage, so looking at your iPad and flying the magenta line won’t meet the requirements of the ACS.

To summarize, you certainly may use your iPad for VFR charting purposes but you won’t satisfy the ACS by looking at your iPad and flying the magenta line. You will need to be able to conduct actual pilotage and dead reckoning.

The use of electronic E6Bs is also acceptable. Many applicants still want to use the old whiz wheel E6B, but I have no issue with either one.

Remember, you are the PIC during the flight. I’m just enjoying the ride. If an actual emergency occurs, I’ll certainly help, but I want to see you handle it. Try to always be the PIC.

What examiners are looking for is your ability to make decisions and act on them. Don’t worry about whether or not your decision is what I would do, or what you think I want you to do. I just want you to make decisions.


I’m sure you will still have questions, so please do not hesitate to contact me at any time for clarification! My goal is to insure you are as prepared as you can be so you feel at ease during the practical test.