Last week I had my 3rd flying lesson with Ivan. When I reached the flight school, I had the pleasure of meeting Gautam for the first time. He started FITA and now helps to run the not-for-profit organisation. He’d come to personally deliver my student starter kit that I will be using to do the self-study reading and keep as my pilot bag. It contains everything the student pilot needs to complete the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) course and beyond. It has all the books I will need to study and pass the PPL written theory tests.

Students at FITA are very privileged because the starter pack and books are provided free of charge by Jeremy Pratt and Sebastian Pooley. Both men are icons in the UK General Aviation Sector.

The books seem very full and can be overwhelming at first glance. However, when you fall in love with a subject – and for me its aviation – then you want to learn about it and nothing will stop you nor hold you back from educating yourself, no matter how hard its seems at first.

During my school days, I was an A star student and did all my coursework, I loved school! However, towards the end of my last year I got very ill and couldn’t complete my GCSE exams; I’m now making up for lost time! Which is why I want to maximise this new found desire to learn about a subject that I’m really interested in.

Education is now my food; it ignites the fire in my stomach and gives me the confidence and self-belief to change the course of my life for the better. Certainly there are many transferable skills I can take from what I learn at flight school to other areas of my life. I’m really enjoying being a student now, something I never thought I would say or feel.
There are 8 books, 1 is a great book about Neil Williams, an amazing RAF pilot, among a million other things, but you don’t need to learn that, it’s just for fun!
Inside my flight bag was the most beautiful, sweet and inspiring letter from none other than the author of the PPL books – Jeremy Pratt.

He had his first flying lesson at 14 years old, then became an instructor aged 19; has flown commercially and now the Managing Director of Airplan Flight Equipment (AFE), among a ton of other things! What a career he’s had and he took the time to write me a letter, that’s just awesome!

The best book I have is the syllabus and course guide; that will help me make a good study plan, and the logbook. After each flight with the instructor or solo flights one day as pilot in command, you log the hours flown, your take off and landing airports, what exercise you did and so on. Over time it logs all your flying experiences. It’s becoming a great way to track my progress after just 3 flights. I can’t wait to fill it up.

Just for fun, I’m looking at the UK airfield flight guide – planning where I’m going to go once I’m fully licenced, but before then its time to study!
The PPL course consists of 9, theoretical knowledge written exams. I found out Jeremy Pratt helped restructure the current PPL syllabus. You have to have a minimum pass mark of 75% for each exam.

The 9 theory subjects are:

• Aviation Law
• Operational Procedures
• Meteorology
• Navigation
• Aircraft Technical
• Principles of Flight
• Flight Planning & Performance
• Human Performance
• Communications

The first book the study guide recommends you to read is Air Law. So I’ve been cracking on with that. Before any student pilot has their first solo flight, it’s a good idea to pass Air Law and Meteorology. FITA made this short film about how the new PPL syllabus changed with the man responsible for reviewing the subject at the Civil Aviation Authority. It provides more background to the written exams.

At first I was learning every single little word and just focusing on that one subject. Now I’m learning all the key points and facts, as well as reading around each subject. FITA collaborates with CATS Aviation Training, based near Luton Airport, providing FITA’s student with the ground theory tuition. They have a great and free online PPL portal for student pilots. CATS specialise in teaching the commercial pilot theory courses. Which makes it even better to have the chance to learn side-by-side with future fast jet pilots. That should make my learning curve steep.

At the end of each month, CATS hold brush up courses, which I can attend at their school with other students. During the weeklong course, we’ll spend each day revising one of the PPL subjects, then at the end of that day, take and hopefully pass the exam we will be revising for.

If you’re a very good student and hardworking, you can take all 9 exams in that one week. I’m hoping to do all 9!

I’m halfway through Air Law now and gradually working my way through the other subjects! At the end of every chapter there are little quizzes. It recommends if you don’t get 80% then to go back and re-summarise everything you have learnt. I’m finding Air Law to be the hardest as it’s all about knowing the rules and regulations of the air and on the ground. A lot of it you just have to learn by memory.

I’m finding the other subjects a little easier to get my head around, so hopefully I won’t have too much trouble, but after saying that I am just going through all the abbreviations you are required to know, there’s a lot of them by the way!

I’ll feel better if I can get all the written exams out the way first. I know other students fly and sit exams as they do the flight training. But for me, carefully listening to the advice of others more experienced, I feel I will enjoy the flying more if I get all the exams out the way first. And it’s a good way to maximise the flying costs budget.

That way there won’t be too many gaps in my flight training – well – apart from what the weather could do; so I can just focus on the flying without the stress of thinking about doing the written tests. Even if you finish all your flying training exercises within the minimum 45 hours, you cannot take the flight skills tests until you pass all the theory exams. Once you have all the written exams completed, they are valid for 18 months, in which time you have to complete the flight training in.

So keep your fingers crossed for me world! In that my head won’t explode from all the info I am taking in, or maybe my brain will expand! Who knows!
It gives me a lot of energy from the support I have from my friends and family and the team at FITA giving me all the positive encouragement a girl could need. Therefore I’d better crack on as I’m determined to prove my worth!

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