Today in the mail I received a special envelope from the Department of Transportation. Inside held a plastic card I never thought I would be privileged enough to hold. It has my name on it, as well as the words “Commercial Pilot.”
Over the summer, I had completed the multi-engine commercial check ride, however I still did not feel like I had earned the right to call myself a commercial pilot. I worked hard, and after one vigorous week of training and studying, I aced a check ride full of fun but difficult maneuvers. These included lazy eights, eights-on-pylons, a short-field landing within one hundred feet, and the infamous power off 180 landing within two hundred feet.
The power off 180 fails a ton of people each year, including a friend of mine who is now a great flight instructor. On downwind, once crossing the landing target point on the runway, the throttle is pulled to idle, and the pilot must land the aircraft within two hundred feet of the selected point without being short. Touching the throttle is not allowed past this point, so the energy of the airplane must be managed to perfectly land on speed and distance on that target. This is very hard, especially with changing winds and temperatures from day to day that always make the maneuver different. The day I took the ride, I made it my best landing to date. It was beautiful, and my heart raced afterwards. The examiner looked over and said that was the best power off 180 and landing he’d seen in at least five years.
The rest of my maneuvers were well-flown as well, and I passed with flying colors. It was a lot of fun to fly the airplane to its limits and look outside the windshield again. The flight instructor ride is the same, but from the right seat with a grueling oral exam beforehand. This was a good foundation for me to have as I seek out that next accomplishment in my career. As of now, I can apply to registered commercial operators, and fly just about any aircraft. This is a near dream come true, and I am very excited to enter the latter half of my education. It’s time to hit the books for an extensive review, and start to build hours and consider some of the companies that I have met. I’m h0nored to enter this tier of pilots, and look forward to entering the community of flight instructors soon.