The Practical Test Standard (above) is of course the main document to refer to when preparing for the Practical Exam. However, there are some other references that are great both for study and for bringing to the test. A short list is:
- FAR/AIM (Federal Aviation Regulations/Airman's Information Manual)
- Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
- Powered Parachute Bible
- Sport Pilot Check Ride Book by Paul Hamilton
The FAR/AIM lists the regulations that will be discussed during the Practical Exam. This is not a book to be memorized, by any means. It is a book to be reviewed and understood. Since the practical exam is an 'open book' test, it is far more important that you know how to extract the appropriate material from it. The 'AIM' half to the book spells out a lot of airport procedures, airspace facts and other things that you should know how to get to. Source: Hamilton Training Systems
The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge is an FAA document that is well written and informative. It talks about subjects like airspace, aerodynamics, and aero decision making that will be covered during the exam. Source: Hamilton Training Systems
The Powered Parachute Bible is a book by George Begué that discusses a lot of the principles of flying powered parachutes. It is a book that any powered parachute pilot should have and read. Source: The PPC Bible.
The Sport Pilot Check Ride Book is about the closest thing you can get to the actual questions that a Designated Pilot Examiner will ask you during the practical exam. Paul Hamilton (a DPE himself) organized a series of questions and their answers under the PTS format. If you can answer all of the questions Paul presents, you will pass the oral part of the exam with flying colors. Source: Hamilton Training Systems
Step 4. Methods of study.
If you are transitioning from one of the ultralight pilot or instructor programs (EAA pilot, UFI or UFIE; ASC pilot, BFI or AFI; or USUA pilot, BFI or AFI) and you held the rating on or before September 1, 2004, you can get a letter from the appropriate ultralight organization recommending you for the practical test. That means that (if you choose) you can do all of the study and pre pa ring by yourself.
If you are not in that situation, you will at some point need to get a recommendation from a Certified Flight Instructor - Powered Parachute Land (CFI-PPL) in order to take the practical exam. That means it may be appropriate to contact a CFI early on to get his or her recommendations for study.
Preparation should be divided into ground preparation and flying preparation.
The bulk of the time of the exam will be spent on the ground going over regulations, flight planning, weather, aero decision making and other subjects that can be done in a classroom or office environment. These subjects can be prepared for by reviewing the PTS and studying the references listed above. For some people, that works best because of the lack of availability of instructors.
There are other ways, though. One is by going to a sport pilot ground school. One of the best in the country is run by Jim Sweeney of SweeneyCorp. He schedules training events around the country that help students pass both the knowledge and practical tests.
Another is by working with a CFI from another flying discipline. Most of the rules, regulations, airspace, and weather questions are common to most pilots. That means that you can get a lot of help by going to your local airplane CFI at the airport and scheduling some one-on-one time with that local CFI. The CFI can even role play the part of a DPE (he's been through the process himself more than once!) and can help you feel comfortable with the process.
Step 5. Practice the flight maneuvers.
The check ride flight is something that the airplane CFI can't really help you with. This is an area where you need to work with a powered parachute flight instructor. Through the end of January, 2007 you can get that instruction from an ultralight powered parachute instructor from either ASC, EAA, or ASC. Contact the instructors in your area to see if they can help you with the flying.
One of the difficult areas is the ground reference maneuvers. These maneuvers (turns around a point, rectangular pattern, and S-turns) kind of need one-on-one coaching. They certainly need to be practiced BEFORE the check ride. This is an area that trips up a lot of applicants.
If you are a 'pre-9/1/04' ultralight pilot or instructor and are working with a letter from ASC, EAA, or USUA as your recommendation; it is possible to review the flight maneuvers (and anything else) with your DPE BEFORE the check ride begins. That is usually possible for an additional fee if time is available.