Check-ride Nerves.....

Icebergclub

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How does everybody handle there checkride nerves? I would sure like to hear from anybody who has had a hard time in the past with checkride butterflies and how they have overcome them.

I am starting to see folks who get so nervous before a checkride that it effects there performance in the sim, from shaky legs and stuttered speech all the way to big items that cause them to bust the ride.

I would like to think that years of experience, flying many hours and just having seen lots of checkrides equates into a cool head and enough confidence to NOT get nervous for a checkride. But usually this is not the case, I am seeing guys with 19,000+ hours loose the game mentally.

Has anybody gotten professional help for nerves?
What are your tips or tricks for not getting nervous?
Does having a cocky or over confident attitude help?

In my opinion the training department has a huge effect on this, they set the tone of the training and most importantly the quality of the training. I am seeing checkrides given to a higher level than the training was done to. This does not seem fair or right.
Also the checkairman giving the ride during the pre-brief can also have a huge effect on the pilots nerves, I have seen guys set a very harsh tone....."one knot below ref" or "one foot below MDA" and the ride is done. Or most guys who set a nice friendly tone and try to chit-chat or tell some jokes to help make the guy relax.
During my 737 type I heard something that I have never heard before and that was, that the checkairmen is to a certain degree trying to make you nervous to see how you handle it. With the reasoning being that they want this guy who could be a captain of a 737 to be able to handle some stress.
My questions to this is: Isnt checkride stress complety different from flying the line and having a problem stress? In my experience it is different.

Anyway, just looking for other folks experience's in this matter to help myself and many others that this seems to effect. Do we have any shrinks out there for some professional help????

Thanks in advance for any replies...........

Godspeed in all your endeavors
 

bigD

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I'm not an airline pilot yet, so I'm not sure if you're looking for a response from someone like me, but oh well - he goes:

For me - the initial nervousness never seems to go away. After a few checkrides, I thought it would. But it never did. I get the butterflies, and usually toss and turn for hours and hours in bed the night before. I don't think I've ever taken a checkride on any more than 3-4 hours of sleep. I've tried everything I could short of medication and professional help. Some say that preparation is key, but I've gone into checkrides feeling like I knew anything and everything for the oral, and could fly the hell out of the PTS. Didn't seem to matter.

But on the flip side - once I sit down with the examiner or get in the plane, it's all business. The nervousness just disappears. Maybe I'm too focused on the tasks to get nervous, but whatever it is, I'm completely comfortable once the test begins - especially once I step into the plane. Granted, I've only taken 4 real checkrides, but in each case, I flew better on the checkride than I ever did during the training.

It's stange, and I figure that sooner or later after taking all of these checkrides, the initial nervousness will go away. But looking at your profile Iceberg, perhaps it doesn't.
 

bobbysamd

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Checkitis

A lot depends on the purpose of the ride. Certification rides carry a lot of pressure because your career success can depend a great deal on your pass rate. Bust one ride and it's no major deal. Bust two and it might be a problem. Bust more than two and you've probably dug yourself into a hole. Therefore, people are under pressure to pass every ride. Don't forget to factor in the possibility of an unfair or grumpy examiner who takes out his/her mood on you, the hapless applicant.

I was nervous before every FAA ride I took. I was nervous as he!! before my first ERAU 141 ride. My (extremely strict but extremely knowledgable) instructor had given me a somewhat negative writeup and I was led to believe that I would not be hired if I busted. I did fine. I found out many months later that people were given second and third chances to pass their 141 rides. I remember being completely at ease for all my subsequent Riddle 141 rides; in fact, I recall that my initial 141 ME ride nine months after I was hired was an extremely pleasant and relaxed affair.

It goes without saying that you must be prepared and well trained. Maybe overtrained to better than standards to compensate for any deterioration in performance. I found that after I got going with the examiner the tension eased greatly, but never 100 per cent.

Good luck with your rides.
 

aviatrix

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I love the adrenaline rush! It usually makes me perform better! What I cant stand right now are the anxiety attacks late at night when ! think of how bad this industry is at the moment and how pitiful the job search has been!
Good luck to everyone out there dealing with these times!!!
If karma exists (and it has to) we will all be sitting better in the near future, looking back on these times and smiling!
:)
 

hobbsmeter

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I think being nervous for a checkride is a normal part of the process. For me, I look at it as a chance to demonstrate what I have learned during the training process. Being confident helps, being too confident leads to cockiness, which in my opininon is not a good thing during a checkride or flying in general, after all the examiner has many many tricks up his/her sleeve to throw at you, as does Murphy's law. I try to stay humble and make it as fun as I can. Like BigD, I also have a hard time sleeping. I got a whopping 1 hr before my initial CFI ride, but I did fine anyway.
I haven't needed any professional help yet, maybe before my first type ride I will ;)
 

Timebuilder

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The nervousness is normal, to a point. It's a part of the "flight or fight" response. Expect it. Deal with it. Meet it as an adversary, and turn it into an ally.

Train well, and feel confident, not over-confident, about your ability. Know that you can accomplish the tasks. If the checkairman tries to psyche you out, psyche yourself right back in.

A good rest, along with a decent meal, will help. As a friend says, have the heart of a Klingon. Revel in the battle! Glory! Success! Kaplach!
 

navigator72

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Checkride stress

I get very little sleep the night before a checkride. I usually toss and turn
and stare at the alarm clock until it starts going off. Except for the commercial
ride. The night before my commercial checkride, My CFI took me out for dinner and drinks to review what I needed to know (she was great like that!). I had one beer then 2 then 3 then 4 and so on....... next thing you know it is the morning of the checkride and I don't suffer from a lack of sleep, I suffer from a lack of brain cells. It all ended good though, A great checkride and very little stress.....

Disclaimer:
The author of this post does in no way endorse the use of alcoholic beverages to help pass checkrides. I do however endorse the use of alcoholic beverages after you pass the ride!!!!!
 

Icebergclub

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Thanx for all the responses!
 

Dieterly

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Beeing a former checkairman I know the realxed approach during the pre-brief really helps most guys. I liked to say "Let's go in there and have a good time, and hopefully WE can all learn something from it", also liked to add "hey, let's have a few beers when we are done", that got most guys calmed down a bit.
 

cwuflyboy

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One thing that helped me was to Chew gum during the flight, I also heard that spearamint helps you to remember things, don't know if its true though ;) .
 

wingnutt

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haha, you know what they say about checkrides...

a checkride should be like a skirt, short enough to keep your interest, but long enough to cover everything ;)
 

surplus1

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Icebergclub said:
How does everybody handle there checkride nerves? I would sure like to hear from anybody who has had a hard time in the past with checkride butterflies and how they have overcome them.
Nice post, sir. Interesting subject and pertinent observations.

I am starting to see folks who get so nervous before a checkride that it effects there performance in the sim, from shaky legs and stuttered speech all the way to big items that cause them to bust the ride.

I would like to think that years of experience, flying many hours and just having seen lots of checkrides equates into a cool head and enough confidence to NOT get nervous for a checkride. But usually this is not the case, I am seeing guys with 19,000+ hours loose the game mentally.
I've seen the same things over the years. I think a major factor is the environment in which the particular pilots experience was obtained. If the environment was what I call "healthy", much of the natural tendency to be aprenhensive when faced with a critical problem diminishes or goes away all together. For the career airline pilot (depending to some extent on the policies and contract of the airline he works for), poor performance can become career threatening. Often its not his "flying" that the seasoned pilot worries about, but his future.

Of course the nervousness or worry that we call checkitis, does affect the "flying", so one feeds the other.

Has anybody gotten professional help for nerves?
What are your tips or tricks for not getting nervous?
Does having a cocky or over confident attitude help?
I've never sought professional help nor do I know anyone that has. For me, preparation is a big help. I begin the reviews a couple of months before my due date. One reason is because it helps me to get through the ride. The other is because I like to know what I'm doing. I don't think a professional pilot should ever be cocky so that's negative for me. Over-confidence would fall into the same category. However, if you're well prepared and know that you are, confidence helps.

In my opinion the training department has a huge effect on this, they set the tone of the training and most importantly the quality of the training. I am seeing checkrides given to a higher level than the training was done to. This does not seem fair or right.
We have the same opinion on that. The training department is the key element. Not just the quantity or quality of information they dispense but, most importantly, the attitude they have and the attitude of the Company, i.e., the mangers that run the department.

This has been a big enough problem at airlines where I've worked (and others), that we carefully revised our contract to provide a counter for know-it-all managers and misguided instructors. The contract can level the playing field, get rid of the creeps and protect the pilots, without diminishing in any way the quality of the program. Matter of fact it improves the program.

When the Company adopts or is forced to adopt proper procedures, much of the problem goes away.

Also the checkairman giving the ride during the pre-brief can also have a huge effect on the pilots nerves, I have seen guys set a very harsh tone....."one knot below ref" or "one foot below MDA" and the ride is done. Or most guys who set a nice friendly tone and try to chit-chat or tell some jokes to help make the guy relax.
To me, the check airman scenario is related to what I said about the training department. First of all (which I think is the case in many airlines), check airmen should be in the Flight Standards department and not in the training department. Their purpose is quality control and you don't get that when they are also the instructors in the training department. The Fox should never be in charge of the hen house. When checking and teaching people come from the same department, you can and usually do develop real problems. The checkers cover up bad training and the trainers cover up bad checking. They need to be separate.

Perhaps its a bit different when you're starting out, but a professional pilot that's been doing the job for years doesn't need flying lessons from some check airman who more often than not doesn't fly the line very much. There are some really great check airmen. There are also a lot of political apointees who think they're the cats meow.

A check ride should never be a means of trying to embarrass you or threaten you. It confirms the quality of your training and provides an opportunity to convey tidbits of good information and tips that folks with time to bury their heads in books can pick up more readily. Check airmen that intimidate or attempt to do so should be removed.

Again, sound Company policies or in their absence a good contract, will establish procedures to train check airmen and monitor their performance, just like they monitor the performance of line pilots. The policies/contract should also provide a means that allows review of their work and protects pilots that don't do well due to some check airman's "novel" approach to reality.

When these things are in place, as I believe they should be everywhere, the pressure pot is largely removed and pilots can in many cases look forward with pleasure to their upcoming training and proficiency reviews. A check ride should be "just another flight" where everything doesn't go right with the machine. If you can fly an approach and deal with mechanicals on the line, there is no reason you can't do it in the sim. Good training and professional checking, leads to good performance. When professional airmen perform poorly, it is usually due to poor training or inferior checking.

A taining/checking program that prides itself on high failure rates is also one that needs to be revamped from top to bottom including a lot of personnel changes.

During my 737 type I heard something that I have never heard before and that was, that the checkairmen is to a certain degree trying to make you nervous to see how you handle it. With the reasoning being that they want this guy who could be a captain of a 737 to be able to handle some stress.
My questions to this is: Isnt checkride stress complety different from flying the line and having a problem stress? In my experience it is different.
I don't doubt you heard that but this pilot thinks its garbage. A check airman that tries to "make you nervous" to "see how you handle it" is an idiot in my book and shouldn't be a check airman. A company that fosters that philosophy is in left field.

I understand you question. In my opinion, checkrides stress should NOT be different from flying the line and having the same problem stress. When it is, to me, the cause is the training department or the flight standards department. The objective should be to make the training and testing as close to the real life environment and scenario as is humanly and technologically possible.

When your training/checking department is doing something else, its broke and needs to be fixed.

Anyway, just looking for other folks experience's in this matter to help myself and many others that this seems to effect. Do we have any shrinks out there for some professional help????
I'm sure not a shrink. I've had checkitis in some environments and felt completely at ease in others. I doubt what I've said is much help for someone that gets up tight but I will say this.

Assuming you take the time to prepare with review of systems and rules knowledge, If you get real nervous everytime you have to take a ride its probably not your fault. Chances are the problem comes from your training department or checking department or both. I don't know what you can do to overcome that other than be confindent in the knowledge that you know your job and you can do it well. If you really believe that, it may help.

Remember too that you have the right to discontinue the ride, before you blow it, if you don't think you're being treated fairly. That won't get you a pass, but it could avoid a down and you can try again another day.

Finally, if the equipment (simulator) isn't up to snuff, don't try to tough it out. Make them fix it. Those darn things get better every day, but they all have their idiosincracies and they need to be well maintained and working properly. Control input functions are especially important and so is the visual programming. A malfunctiong box is far worse than a malfunctioning airplane. Also, you should not be trying to do anything in a box that you can't do in the live airplane. Anyone that tries to push you into that needs an attitude adjustment.

For those of you dealing with the FAA, keep this in mind. There are very few of them that can do themselves what they often ask you to do. They aren't gods, but unfortunately some think they are. When you run in to one of those, send him home. There are other days.

For the guys that fly at regionals and want jobs at the majors... With the reporting we have today, it is not in your best interest to be failing checkrides. Be careful, be prepared and don't let check airmen sucker you into failures.

May the Force be with you.
 

ksu_aviator

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I heard this advice from a football coach:

You should only be nervous about a game if you aren't fully prepared.
My best checkrides are the ones I over prepared for. A little trick I relearned in the airlines is to make lots and lots of flash cards.

Short answers are the best, don't give out too much information. You may dig your own grave.

Don't guess. If you don't know, you don't know.
 

Austpilot

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I agree with Ksu - the best checkrides are the ones you over prepare for - remember, you can never do enough preparation as far as I'm concerned. I've heard all the same things over the years - though probably the best bit of info is to know that the check pilots are not out to fail you. They have been in the same situation and they know.

I think another good bit of advice is don't wait for a few days before your check to pull out the FCOM,manuals and swat up - as a professional pilot you should be pulling out the books every now and then to make sure you know important things like memory items,configurations,limitations,standard calls etc. How many of you guys if put on the spot now could word for word verbatim call out all memory items for emergency and abnormal operations?

Relax, don't view simulators as big white boxes of death, and or don't view a checkride as a necessary evil - it's all a learning experience and thats probably the most mature way to look at it.

Also - as we say in Australia - lets ave a few beers at the end of the ride mate!!! - this is the best part!!
 
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