In July 1983, I experienced an interesting instrument rating check ride as the examinee. Although intercoms and headsets weren’t in common use then, I had a David Clark headset loaned by my instructor and I wore my own. I thought the reduced noise would make the experience that much better and safer. The examiner agreed and readily accepted the offer. Check one.
We were at a towered field. I did everything by the book: We took off and flew all the assigned approaches. I was careful to hold right rudder during climb. I also used rudder when entering and exiting turns. There was nothing that seemed out of the ordinary after well over an hour in the air. All of my approaches were good. Check two.
Notwithstanding my seemingly noteworthy flying skills, I heard this from the right seat during our return to home base: “You are not controlling this aircraft properly.” I was thinking, “Did I hear that right?” This was an instrument check ride, after all, wasn’t it? What was he talking about? I couldn’t be that bad, could I?
Expecting that I had somehow unknowingly blown my check ride, we landed, shut everything down and he informed me I had…well…passed! A bit confused but obviously glad I hadn’t actually blown it, I accepted the good news not wishing to open my mouth and undo it, and simply thanked him. I never told my instrument instructor what the examiner had said, only that he passed me.
That incident stuck with me for years after, not really understanding it. One day, I returned to my logbook and again read the examiner’s tiny stamp. His name was Myron Goulian.
My instrument check ride examiner was Mike Goulian’s father! I have never forgotten what really being in control is all about, and what real stick and rudder skills mean to someone who has mastered them. It was a lifetime lesson in precision for everything flying.