It's official. I'm legit now. As of October 16, 2010, I have passed my private pilot's checkride!
I went through a DPE who works at a nearby FBO and who does a lot of the checkrides at my flight school. I was nervous going in, and the oral exam began at 8 AM, which made me a little more nervous as I'm not a morning person.
The oral went well and was informal, almost conversational. The DPE began talking about a recent flight he had made, and then started drilling me with questions about that flight. He was so sneaky about it that I didn't even realize it was the exam until a few minutes into it, and I think that helped me perform a little better.
After the oral, we went to the flight school and I preflighted my mighty Cessna 152. We took to the skies and flew to the first waypoint on my planned cross-country, where we did some short and soft field operations and a few power failures. The DPE climbed me, had me do a six-stall series, and then put me into some unusual attitudes.
Before I knew it, the wheels squeaked down at my home airport, and I was done. I was a bundle of nerved as we taxied back and I secured the plane; the DPE didn't tell me if I passed or failed, but instead asked me to meet him back at his FBO, which left me quite uncertain.
I drove back to the DPE's FBO, and there he was, filling out the FAA forms to get me my pilot's certificate! I had PASSED! I was absolutely elated. October 16 of 2010 will live in my memory for some years, I suspect.
Since the arrival of my temporary airman's certificate, I've used the privileges granted me by the FAA to take my wife flightseeing over our house and introduce her to the wonder of General Aviation. I have several small trips planned out, and I plan to use the privileges granted to me by the FAA as best I can for the forseeable future.