Ask a CFI: Tips for Checkride Success from an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE)

Today we're talking with Todd Ritchey, a senior CFI at Sporty's Academy and FAA Designated Pilot Examiner. Todd shares his tips for how to prepare for the oral exam and practical flight test during the checkride and how to ensure you walk away with a successful outcome.

Video tip: explore the differences in airplane cockpits

While the good ol' Cessna 172 is still the most popular training airplane used by flight schools today, there are hundreds of other aircraft types that are also well-suited for flight training. This week's tip takes a look at some of the variations you'll find in these airplanes, including engine controls, switches, flight controls and flight instruments.

Video tip: Flying with a constant-speed propeller

Airplanes with a high-performance engine typically contain a constant-speed propeller for greater efficiency. Learn all about their operation with our latest tip, including how to properly use the throttle, prop control, manifold pressure gauge and tachometer in each phase of flight.

Video tip: takeoff and landing techniques from a short runway

You'll need to modify your takeoff and landing procedures when operating from shorter runways to obtain the maximum performance from the airplane. These techniques will allow you to shorten the ground roll and also provide additional clearance over obstacles if they are present near the runway.

Video Tip: Convective outlook charts

The week's tip looks at the Convective Outlook chart, which provides both short and long-term planning guidance for determining the location and intensity of thunderstorm activity.

Video tip: takeoffs and landings on grass runways

Taking off and landing on a grass strip requires a modified technique to account for the soft runway surface. You'll typically start practicing these maneuvers after solo, which will also help to improve your technique for normal takeoffs and landings.

Video tip: how to take off in an airplane

Taking off is one of the most exciting moments of every flight, where you get to swiftly accelerate down the runway and lift off to leave the world below. This week's tips takes a look at the step by step procedure to accomplish this task in a Cessna 172, showing each control input necessary to fly a smooth takeoff on your next flight.

Video tip: reducing drag in a Citation X and Cirrus SR-22

Airplane manufacturers go to great lengths to design the exterior surfaces to be as aerodynamically clean as possible to maximize performance. This week's tip takes a look at the drag-reducing features found on two of the fastest airplanes in both the jet and piston aviation segments.

Video tip: types of training airplanes

While you can technically learn to fly and earn your private pilot certificate in just about any type of airplane, you'll quickly learn that certain models are better suited for flight training than others. Here we'll take a look at the most common airplanes used for pilot training and some of the differences among them.

Video tip: flight training across the pond

Many take for granted the freedoms and flexibility extended to pilots flying in the United States. We have access to over 5,000 public airports and can move about the country when we want with limited government regulation and no user fees. Things are a bit different in other parts of the world though, where airspace is more regulated and landing fees are the norm. Learn first hand from Sophie Gilgean who grew up and learned to fly in Belgium about the limitations placed on private aviation in Europe.