Richard Wilkening

Celebrating 25 years as a

FAA Designated Pilot Examiner

Des Moines, Iowa FSDO

Serving the aviation community by providing Airplane Pilot Practical Tests in Iowa.

My goal is to provide a welcoming atmosphere and set a positive tone so that each Pilot Applicant can do their very best to demonstrate their knowledge and skills within the FAA Airman Certification Standards (ACS) or Practical Test Standards (PTS).

I conduct checkrides at the Ottumwa, Iowa airport, but do travel to other airports under certain circumstances. There will be an extra fee involved.


$700 for Sport, Private, Instrument, Commercial, Multi Engine, CFI (Add On, Renewal, Reinstatement) and ATP Checkrides.

Retests are $350 if Unsat during the Flight Portion.

Retests are $700 if Unsat during Ground Portion (Oral). If the Ground Portion is unsat the FAA requires we do the complete checkride upon retest.

$50 for DMS Info not submitted at least 36 hrs. prior (see below).

$50 for Administrative Submissions such as Ground Instructor, SIC Type Ratings, CFI Renewal via Activity.

I accept either Cash or Venmo (an App for Credit Cards). If using Venmo, a 2% credit charge will be added to your fee.

Helpful Hints:

The ACS/ PTS has LOTS of good information. In fact, it lists everything you need to bring and everything we're going to do/ talk about during your Practical Test. Few people actually read it, but it's free and informative. Do both of us a favor and read it cover to cover. I know- it's as dry as every other gov't publication, but reading it takes the surprises out of checkride day.

Make sure you have met and logged all the Aeronautical Experience Requirements, your Application is 100% correct, all required Logbook Endorsements are entered, and you've brought everything you're supposed to. Having a preventable "hiccup" right away on checkride day frustrates Applicants and Examiners needlessly. To make checkride day go smoothly, both Applicant and CFI should check and recheck these items. Nothing builds an Applicant's Self Confidence better than knowing they're well prepared and have everything they need.

After the CFI has Electronically signed the Application, print off a copy and hand sign the Recommendation. If IACRA is offline, we can then proceed with paper without delay. If you or your CFI has ANY questions about the application or the process, please call.

The FAA says that there are no "redos" on checkrides. That is to say that you have one opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge/ aeronautical skill within the standard required. Continue reading and there is mention of "consistently exceeding tolerances." What that means is if you slightly exit the parameters, but take corrective action on your own- good job! Exceed the standard and don't take corrective action? Houston- we have a problem.

Another thing being evaluated is judgement. To me, a pilot exercises good judgment if they "go around" when the desired safe outcome is in doubt. This works on Steep Turns as well as Approaches and Landings. Obviously if we have to go around multiple times there is a bigger problem.

Know how to use everything in the airplane, and do so as appropriate. If your airplane has GPS and/ or Autopilot- use them! That's CRM. CRM is good. We'll turn them off if/ when it's appropriate.

RELAX! BREATHE! Your instructor has prepared you well and wouldn't have signed you off if they didn't feel you were ready. You, they, and I want you to succeed. If you're here on checkride day, we all know you can. Try to enjoy this as best as you can given the circumstances. I know checkrides are stressful- I've had a couple myself :) RELAX!

At least 36 hours prior to your Checkride Appointment, I need the following DMS information:

  • Applicant's Name

  • Applicant's Certificate Number

  • Applicant's Phone Number and Email Address

  • Desired Rating

  • FAR 61 or 141? If 141, what school?

  • Aircraft Make/ Model

  • Flight Instructor's Name

  • Flight Instructor's Certificate Number

If you have IACRA completed and signed by the Instructor I can get this information from there if I have your FTN. Otherwise email.

  • Copy of the Airman Knowledge Test results, with the Learning Statement Codes decoded.

Photos and Text Copyright 2021. Richard Wilkening