It’s been several months since I last shared my Private Pilot Licence (PPL) training progress.
Back then I was waiting to start the PPL ground school. I’ve only had a few flights, and it seemed most PPL students combine the flight training in parallel with the ground school. I also saw how long it took people to complete their course, whilst holding down a full-time job or other activities.
The flying part is of course fun, but when it comes to the ground school, not everyone likes that. I heard so many people had taken more time to finish their course because of the ground school. But also spent more money because they had to do more flight training hours due to not completing the ground school even though they had finished all the flying hours. So they had to do brush up flights before the general flight test.
I, therefore chose to go down another route. No more flying until I had passed all my ground school and written exams. This way, once the written exams are done, all I have to then do is enjoy the fun of flight training, and potentially complete the course in less than 3 weeks – weather permitting of course.
Freedom in the Air (FITA) who are nurturing my dream of becoming a commander of an aeroplane work with CATS Aviation out of Luton. CATS specialise in providing ground school for the commercial pilot and have amazing PPL brush up courses.
FITA enrolled me to the CATS PPL course and I started my ground school a few months ago. Well, after 2 months; some tears of anguish, some tears of joy; many many days of hard work, I have at last completed my exams AND I passed all 9!
The other professional student pilots at CATS were full-time theory students. Unlike them, I had to fit my PPL course around my University studies. My university studies come first, then the flying.
So for me it was harder to manage the time for both courses; but because I love reading and need deadlines to thrive, I was able to balance the week to fit in all my reading and self-study at home.
To recap, there are 9 PPL ground school subjects and thus written exams;
- Flight Planning and performance,
- Air Law,
- Principles of flight,
- Human performance and limitations,
- Operational Procedures,
- Aircraft general knowledge
Many people will agree with me, that navigation, Meteorology, and Aircraft general knowledge are the hardest. But I guess each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, however, those were mine! BUT nothing is difficult, just different. We will all find ways to unlock blockages in learning if we want it badly enough.
One can only sit each PPL exams 3 times, but you are only allowed 4 sittings to complete the whole lot, so you cannot simply take 1 at a time! I had to resit Navigation and Meteorology but passed them second-time around, I passed Navigation with 92% – one of my hardest subjects!
I was very proud of myself! Also, Aircraft General Knowledge, I passed with 100% – I couldn’t believe it! A couple I scraped through, but as long as you pass, at this point in your flying career, percentages do not matter, it is only if you go on to study ATPL, leading to a career as a commercial pilot, percentages do matter there.
I had an absolutely amazing team of instructors at CATS. All my classes and brush up work was done at their very accessible Basepoint in Luton. I took my written exams there as they are an approved Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) exam facility.
Back at CATS, Matt, Dan, Ellie and of course, the wonderful Tim, all went out of their way to make all the students feel at ease, they definitely took a lot of the stress away, leaving me free to concentrate on passing the exams, rather than to sit there fretting!
Behind the scenes there is Lisa and Nicky, apart from being the masters of admin, they’re always good to have a quick pep talk and a coffee with! If it wasn’t for the exams I would have felt like I was on holiday, I had fun and met so many wonderful people including the staff at Basepoint itself and the staff at the restaurant there, both of who helped me in and out of my car each day with my wheelchair. The manager at the restaurant also made me the best chicken and homemade coleslaw every day, so perhaps I’m more biased towards him! Hee hee!
The day I passed my final exam I went to Luton in my brand new leg! It has taken a lot longer (nearly 2years) for me to get my prosthesis, compared to normal folks waiting time (usually 3 months) as I had to get orthopedic doctors to sign off on it, the physiotherapy team were concerned I wouldn’t be able to put weight on my good leg. But after all the waiting, I have my new leg! Although I cannot walk long distances, I do wear it to get around to the boot of my car to take out my wheelchair, I used to crawl!
When I wear my leg, it’s nice not having so many people staring at me, but I’m working hard and hope to be on crutches asap!
I received it two weeks previously, although I cannot walk unaided yet, it does mean I can hobble around to the boot of my car and get my wheelchair out all by myself! So another milestone reached!
I still have a lot of work at physio to do before I can walk on crutches, perhaps not this year, but I’m getting stronger by the day and I can walk short distances using a zimmer frame, so I’m not too disheartened.
But yes, the day I passed my final exam I turned up in my lovely new leg and went upstairs expecting to just have a quick re-sit of my Navigation exam, but to my surprise the lovely Tim was there with all his books and markers ready and waiting to give me a quick brush up lesson beforehand, talk about wonderful! I felt so much more reassured now, as I knew there were a few sections I needed to go over again, specifically, the whizz wheel! (Or CRP-1 computer) It is a miraculous device that a pilot can do any calculations on regarding wind speed, ground speed, TAS, CAS, headwind, crosswind components, every conversion you can think of, need I go on?… It is amazing when you actually see it.
It was created by naval Lt. Phillip Dalton, who sadly had a short life, but he created many different designs. It is even in a Star Trek episode; Mr. Spock uses it to calculate the time when The Enterprise will collide with a planet!
So I definitely needed a brush up with that many calculations! You need to know how to calculate all! But Tim patiently went through it all with me until; I understood where I had been going wrong. After 2 hours roughly I sat the brush-up paper, I only got 2 wrong, so I was allowed to complete the real Navigation paper. You are allowed I think, 35 minutes, but I’m quite quick, 10 minutes later I knew I had answered to the best of my ability. Tim went to mark the paper, I sat there nervously, but when he came with a big grin on his face, I knew I had passed, woohoo! 92%!
I was given my certificate 10 minutes later, and a very happy Kim I am now! I have 3 weeks left of my University work, then I have 2 weeks off before next year starts. However, I’m making sure I am 2 weeks ahead as when the call comes for me to go and practice the practical part, I’ll be ready and waiting! I’m half way there and raring to go! I can’t wait to get up in the air!
These past few months have made me realise that you can reach for the sky..but actually not alone. This has only been possible because of support and service above self of the following organisations. Sure no one can do it for me, but I cannot do it without them: together we can be a lot stronger
Pooleys Flight Equipment: https://www.pooleys.com/
Airplan Flight Equipment (AFE): http://www.afeonline.com/shop/
The Douglas Bader Foundation: http://www.douglasbaderfoundation.com/