This thread should be a great source of tips and tricks :)
The way to think about this is to think about the purpose of being asked to divert during your checkride.
What the examiner will be looking for is not that you have all of the information for every possible airport you might be asked to fly to. The examiner is wanting to see that if you had to divert unexpectedly for whatever reason, that you are able to do this safely. That's the bottom line.
In order to do this, you should start working on the problem during your ground planning, and for the purposes of your checkride, this will be no different to planning any other flight.
Plan for your alternate. You should have charts, frequencies etc and of course, enough fuel. Your examiner is not going to ask you to divert to somewhere when you reach your destination, it's going to be somewhere en-route.
As part of any good plan, you are going to familiarise yourself with possible diversions along the route. If you had an urgent situation (not a dire emergency where nearest available is the only choice) requiring you to divert when you were flying solo after you gained your license, where would you go?
This doesn't mean that you need every possible piece of information for every possible airport but it does mean:
- Do I have enough fuel to make possible diversions?
- Do I have charts on board covering the areas to the left and right of my plan? - Have I folded my charts so that it's easy to see what possible diversions there are easily?
- Do I have Jeppesen (or whatever) on board and is it up to date?
- Have I checked the METARs and NOTAMs for anything significant for those likely diversions.
- Do I have my E6B or other planning tool and do I know how to use it fully?
- Do I know what ATC agencies I would talk to along the route if I need assistance, even if flying in uncontrolled airspace?
In your notebook for the planned flight, write down the likely diversion airfields with their key details.
The list above should be part of any plan, not just for your checkride.
One of the key things you're going to need to figure out is "how long will it take me to get to the diversion"? In order to know this, you're going to need to know the wind at the altitude you are going to be flying at. The way I handled this was to draw a circle on my chart, marked with the wind at altitude, then the corresponding ground speed already worked out on my E6B and written into the circle for each cardinal and mid-cardinal point on the compass rose. You can glance at this little chart to instantly see that if, for example, the requested diversion needs me to fly a heading of 320, I will be doing 86 kts for an airspeed of 100 kts. This saves you having to actually use your E6B in the cockpit to do this. Mark off 0, 45, 90, 135 etc.
If you think about it, doing this in planning will prepare you for any *sensible" diversion you might be asked to make.
When it comes to the time of the diversion, the primary thing your examiner is looking for is do you get "aviate, navigate, communicate"?
The second thing the examiner is looking for is "can you safely divert from en-route"?
If you have planned thoroughly, and you follow aviate, navigate, communicate, then almost by definition, you will safely divert.
So your examiner suddenly says, OK, see that completely unexpected giant sandstorm ahead, you need to get down soon. Please divert to "Mark Watney- Space Pirate" airport.
Avoid the single, most important thing in this whole exercise at this point. Do no go into heads down mode. It's easy to do if you are unprepared. Your head should be down for at most 15 seconds. Do each thing one step at a time, then scan and lookout. If you are well prepared and planned, then not going heads down will be easy.
You now need 3 things immediately - everything else can come later.
- What heading do I need to fly?
- How long will it take me to get
- Can I make it?
For the heading, grab your chart, find the airport, then take a rough heading you need. You don't, at this stage, need to be super accurate. Within 10 or 15 degrees will be good. The important thing is to begin flying to towards the diversion. You can get the ruler out and refine your heading once you've got the initial diversion sorted out. Don't forget to aviate. Keep your head moving, keep your scan and lookout going. When you set up for the new heading and turn on to it, remember the gross error check as you roll out.
How long will it take? Again, you don't need to be super accurate. Grab a quick measure of the distance from the chart and your ruler. Then look at that wind chart you prepared earlier. Get your estimated ground speed.
Can I get there? You should know the aircrafts' fuels consumption numbers so do the quick calculation in your head.
During all of this, remember to aviate at all times. Also, remember to conduct your normal en-route and turn check lists.
Now it's time to communicate. If you are in controlled airspace, let them know you've diverted then start looking for who you might need to talk to along your diversion and get the next frequencies into the box.
When you are safely flying towards your destination, you can start to do some more detailed in-the-air planning to refine your estimated heading and fuel use if needed. You can also now deal with "do I have the NOTAMs and METARs" I need? It's OK not to have them all for every possible airport (you should have them for the most likely ones) because you can always call up ATC. That's one of the reasons they are there - to help pilots dealing with unplanned contingencies.
Remember, the examiner is looking for prior planning and aviate, navigate, communicate. If you do this, I hope that you will see that the unexpected diversion is not actually that scary.
This is primarily a planning exercise, not a flying exercise. Arrive in plenty of time. Recognise that every minute you spend planning will reduce your stress and workload in the air and aim to be ready to go, twiddling your thumbs and itching to get airborne, 15 minutes before your planned time to walk to the aircraft.
You might notice that I've repeated myself a lot. That's deliberate. Prior planning and aviate, navigate, communicate it what this is all about.