On the 20 November 2017 I started my first full day on ATPL theory ground school. It has been 14 weeks since starting and I have sat my first three EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) exams.
My first 3 months have been eventful, stressful, sometimes filled with school drama and otherwise very routine up early and studying late. My school, Airways Aviation, is based in Oxford Airport and I decided to opt for my own accommodation, so am renting a couple of miles away from the airport in a house were there is no semblance of aviation (other than my room), which gives me a small escape. My class is made of 18 guys, of ages varying from 18-31 ….. suffice to say I’m not the dad of the class but I’m also not far from it! Some coming from as close as Bedford and others from as far as Kuwait.
The subjects we have been taught in our first phase have been Aircraft General Knowledge (Electrics, Engines and Systems), General Navigation and Air law. AGK and Gen Nav are rather interesting but Air Law is the counter opposite generally made up of nonsensical facts that you are mandated to learn and then quickly forget. AGK and Gen Nav are mathematical and technical in nature but the technicality of the subjects isn’t why these subjects are difficult, its the volume of information that is bewildering. For example, we have to learn the intricacy about every part of aircraft: hydraulics, electrical systems, engines, and the operation of systems like the: primary & secondary flight controls, landing gear, pressurisation systems and aircraft structures etc.
I thought I knew how to navigate using my chart, map, compass and stopwatch as I had done for 100 hours before. Well, Gen Nav has a way of telling you, you know nothing, in particular from an old RAF navigator. Who knew different chart projections exist, and apparently the Earth is not flat – I wish it was, so I wouldn’t have to work out convergency and conversion angle to follow a great circle route! Hats off to the navigators of old who had to do this manually (or just follow rhumb line routes). Nowadays the flight management computer in modern jets computes convergency and a corrected heading tens of times a second. Next you know a monkey is going to be flying the plane…. oh wait!
All this learning does often result in:
So, three months culminated in 3 exams on the 21/22 February. Exam results are usually issued on the Friday via email, so a well deserved hangover was cured when I received 3 “Your result for XXX has been updated” emails with PDFs attached. Three passes with an average of 88% followed by an urge for more celebratory beer.
No rest for the wicked, 11 more to go and phase 2 starts on the 26 February.