Sanders Aviation

J.G. “Gordo” Sanders


Private, Instrument, Commercial, ATP (SEL,MEL)


MEL- Piper PA-23, PA-30, PA-34, PA-44 Beech BE-55, BE-58, BE-76 Cessna 303, 310, 320, 340
Welcome to Sanders Aviation! This website is designed to provide information and assistance to those planning on taking a check ride in the near future (pilot applicants), as well as CFIs (especially recommending CFIs).  We hope the information provided on this site will help you prepare for your check ride as well as make your check ride easier. Following our recommendations and directions will ensure that your eligibility and paperwork requirements are met. In addition to the General Information section, there are several different pages that are specific for each certificate and rating for checkrides conducted at Sanders Aviation.  Also, please find links to other specific documents and information.
Its only natural to be stressed and a little apprehensive about taking check rides.  Most of us (and probably everyone) experience that feeling.  Gordo takes several check rides a year and still admints get stressed and nervous about taking them.  We strive for excellence and to reduce your stress by keeping the test as low-key as possible.  Being adequately prepared, you'll find that it the check ride will be less stressful. 
A.  PREPARE YOURSELF. One of the most important things to keep in mind when preparing for any check ride - is preparing           yourself for it - physically, mentally, emotionally, and of course be up-to-speed in terms of required knowledge and skill.
1.  Be well rested and (to the extent possible) free of any stress and distractions.  
2.  Make sure you've eaten before the check ride.  You may snack during the oral, and will also have an opportunity to grab a      snack between the oral and flight portions of the test.
3.  Postpone the test if you are sick or not feeling well.  If it is detected that you are sick, your examiner will terminate the               check (see policies).
4.  Dress comfortably; but for safety, no flip flops, sandals, high heels, etc.
5.  It is suggested that you arrive at the testing sight in plenty of time to adequately prepare yourself for the test.  Also (if                 possible), do not have any commitments for several hours after the planned completion of the test (just in case                           there are any unexpected delays or complications).
B.  PREPARE THE AIRPLANE- The airplane must be (legally) airworthy and appropriate for the check ride.
1.  It is recommended that you thoroughly preflight (and maybe flight test) the airplane immediately before the scheduled             check so that you have time to resolve any mechanical issues (or arrange for a backup airplane) prior to the test                            beginning.  If the FBO/flight school or the aircraft’s schedule does not allow for this, you may schedule the airplane                    approximately 2 hours after our scheduled appointment starts.  For the purposes of the flight planning, you may use a             generic POH/AFM for the make and model of the plane being used for the flight test.  However, you will need the empty             weight and moment for the airplane we are using.
2.  If a GPS equipped aircraft will be used on a check ride for an Instrument Rating or ATP, the unit must be IFR certified, and         the navigation database must be current.   Note: Portable GPS devices will not be permitted on any flight test. 
3.  Ensure that the aircraft is legally airworthy, which means all required inspections and other maintenance requirements               have been performed, and there are no inoperative items that have not been addressed in compliance with FAR 91.213.
4.  Ensure the aircraft’s logbooks are available and properly endorsed. You will need to bring them to the test for                                 examination. It is recommended that you tag or mark the required inspections and maintenance items for easy                           reference.
5.  If you are taking your check ride at Walker County (KJFX) arrive early to familiarize yourself with the airport, surrounding           areas, runway and ramp facilities.
C.  PREPARE YOUR PAPERWORK- In order to get off to a good start, the paperwork needs to be right. If it's not, the process        will take longer, or the check may have to be postponed. 
1.  The use of  IACRA  is strongly encouraged for the application process.  If IACRA will be used, make sure that you bring a                 completed application (form 8710-1), in case there are problems accessing or completing the IACRA application                         process.  If you (or your instructor) elect not to use IACRA, ensure that the application (8710-1) is properly completed and         signed. Sign using Blue Ink, this makes it easier for FAA personnel to determine that this is an original document.  The               application must be typed or completed electronically. A PDF version of the 8710-1 form is available here , and check this         page for common 8710-1 related errors and issues .
2.  We’ve prepared three (3) checklists that will help ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements for the test. You (and            your instructor) are welcome to use them. These are the same checklists that will be used during the qualification                     process. They are:
        a.   Appointment Checklist - This form is used to identify any issues related to your identity, documents, or the tests                          that may become an issue in establishing eligibility to take the test. By doing so prior to the test date, any such issues                can be identified and resolved ahead of time.   If we have not provided you with one, please feel free to download,                      complete, and email it to us.  We will go over the information prior to meeting.  Your instructor will help you if needed.
         b. Eligibility Checklist.  This checklist will list the hourly requirements, as well as the required endorsements, and                               flight/ground training that must be logged. Select the checklist appropriate for the certificate or ratings for your                            test.  Notede that it will be helpful (and save time) if you add up the column totals in your logbook pages.
                      1.  Private Pilot (SEL)
                      3.  Commercial Pilot (SEL)
                      4.  Commercial Pilot (MEL)
                      5.  ATP (SEL & MEL)
                      6.  Multi-engine Add-on (Private Pilot)
                      7.  Multi-engine Add-on (Commercial Pilot)
                      8. Single-engine Add-on (Commercial Pilot) -- Under Construction
               *Note: A complex aircraft is not required for SE add-ons if complexity has been demonstrated during the applicant's                    previous successful CMEL checkride. Refer to the PTS for single engine-specific maneuvers & operations that will be                    required.*
           c.   Check ride Checklist - This is essentially the same checklist that’s contained in the front of the PTS, except that a few                   items have been added.
1.  The test will be conducted as per the appropriate Practical Test Standard (PTS).  You need to be familiar with this                        document, and be knowledgeable in all of the AREAS OF OPERATION and their TASKS appropriate for the certificate and          rating you are seeking.  Your instructor should have trained you in these areas and tasks to the standards listed, and                  reviewed these items with you, in detail, prior to the test.  You can view the appropriate PTS  here .
1.  The first thing we will need to do (after collecting the required fee) is to verify that you’re qualified to take the test.  This                   process involves checking your application (8710-1), logbook (more on that later), and identification.  While the                           paperwork is being examined as well as the aircraft log books (the aircraft must be legally airworthy in order to fly),                     you will be busy completed the necessary flight planning to the day’s flight (which will be separate from any pre-                         assigned flight plans). Then we will give you a  Pre-test Briefing, and then begin the oral portion of the test.  Checkout                 the link (below) for the requirements specific to the certificate/rating that you are seeking.
2.  If you are a foreign national or a non-native English speaker, a simple and short English language test must be                                administered at this time (in accordance with  AC60-28 ).  Check this link for a sample of the test .
3.  Please let me know prior to the day of the check ride if any of the following apply:
         a. You hold a foreign pilot certificate, and are seeking an additional rating, certificate, or removal of limitations.
         b. If you hold a dual citizenship.
         c. If you are re-testing - you must bring your 8040-5.
If there was a flight plan assigned, it will be reviewed in detail, and will likely be a substantial part of the oral.  There will also be questions selected from each task in the PTS, as well as on any questions missed on the knowledge (written) test.  There are no trick questions. If you are well prepared (using the PTS) you should have no problem.  I would suggest that you bring your reference materials (POH/AFM, FAR/AIM, studying materials, etc...). While most of the oral exam is closed book, there are some limited items that may be able to be looked up.  Checkout the links (below) for the specific certificate/rating for more info on the oral portion.
Assuming the oral goes well, after a short break, and a  pre-flight briefing  we will move onto the flight portion.  Again the PTS is the guide. As per the PTS, perfection is NOT the standard.  It may help to visualize this part of the test as an opportunity to show off your skills, and try to have fun doing so. Checkout the links (below) for the specific certificate/rating for more info on the flight portion.  Be sure to checkout the "Special Emphasis" listed in the applicable PTS.
Depending on which certificate/rating you're testing for, you can expect the process to take anywhere from 3-6 hours (including breaks, briefings, and the required paperwork).  Being well prepared, and having the paperwork right will keep the time to a minimum.
1.  Throughout the test....
          A. The instructor will be using a written Plan of Action (used to organize the practical test)
          B. The instructor will be taking notes for the debrief, and to ensure check was conducted per my checklist.
          C. Oral questioning will continue throughout the test. ASA Oral Exam Guides are strongly recommended as study guides                for all applicants.
2.  Three possible outcomes are:
              1) PASS = Temporary airman certificate
              2) FAIL = Notice of disapproval of application (Credit may be given for AREAS of OPERATION and TASKS completed)
              3) Letter of Discontinuance - Issued in the event the test cannot be completed once it has begun. This is not a failure,                      and credit will be given to those AREAS of OPERATION and TASKS completed.
3.  The test may be discontinued at anytime by either the examiner (Gordo) or the applicant (you).
4.  The failure of one or more TASKS will result in the failure of the associated AREA of OPERATION, and therefore a failure of         the TEST.
5.  In the event of a failure of a TASK /AREA of OPERATION, the examiner may elect to continue the test with the concurrence      of the applicant, in order to complete as many TASKS/AREAS of OPERATION as possible or practical.
6.  If a TASK (maneuver or question) does not go well, we suggest that you put it behind you and try to continue with check         in order to get as much credit as possible. If you elect to continue with the test, the examiner will usually elect to continue      the test unless he thinks that you are unable to put it behind you and concentrate on flying the airplane and at the task at       hand, or if there will be extensive re-training required.  Depending on the nature of the failure, it may be entirely possible         that we could do a successful re-test after some additional training on the same day.
7.  If possible, we suggest that you arrange for the instructor who endorsed you, to be available to clear up any paperwork or            qualifying issues that may arise. We also suggest that you have your (or another) flight instructor available in the event             of a failure. If it’s just a matter of cleaning up a couple of things, time and schedule permitting, the instructor could                      immediately provide the additional necessary training, re-sign you off, and the re-check could be completed that same            day. (The fee for a re-check will depend on the extent of the re check needed).
8.  Daylight & VFR conditions are required for all tests except:
         a.  Tests for an Instrument Rating, ATP, or MEL add-on can be conducted at night.
         b.  Tests for ATP can be conducted at night, under IFR or VFR, and in limited IFR conditions.
         c.  Tests for a Commercial or ATP can be conducted if an IFR departure is needed to reach VFR conditions, provided that                  the applicant holds an instrument Rating, and is current on instruments (as required by 61.57). The same hold true if                  an instrument approach is necessary to return to the airport of departure.
9.  For Instrument Rating, Commercial, or ATP applicants: --If a Flight Training Device is to be used, I need a copy of the                   Letter of Authorization for that device prior to the flight check.  Note that the number of tasks allowed to be performed in         a FTD is very limited. See the appropriate PTS appendix.
10.  Foreign Students/ Applicants
           a.  The address on the 8710 and medical certificate should be you home address (permanent mailing address)...not the                  school's address.  If you wish to have a certificate mailed to the school (or somewhere other than your home                                  address) it should be noted on a separate piece of paper. If using IACRA, there is a place to indicate such.
           b.  It's is highly recommended that you allow (as a buffer) 2-4 weeks between the expected date of your check ride and                    your return home this will allow some addition time in case your course completion and check ride is delayed for                        any reason.
           c.  If you hold a dual citizenship, you must first be cleared by the FSDO before taking the practical test.  Note that IACRA                 cannot be used.
      Checkrides conducted with IACRA at KJFX: $500
      Checkrides conducted with a paper 8710-1 at KJFX: $550
      CFI Initial Checkrides at KJFX: $600 (Must have FSDO referal)
       Please call for a price quote on a checkride conducted a location of your choice within the Birmingham FSDO.
      *Payment is expected prior to the beginning of the checkride, and is accepted in the form of cash only.*
     4.  ATP
     7. ALL CERTIFICATES / RATINGS-  COMMON ERRORS - For information about what we have found to be common weak                 areas or reasons for failures.
C.  CFI INFORMATION--- CFIs click here .
Feel free to email or call us to set up a check ride, or if your have any questions or issues you wish to discuss.  Also, please let us know if you have any comments or problems with this site.
Hangar: 205-384-IFLY (4359)
Cell: 205-544-0202
Special thanks to DPE Jim Currier for his assistance.