As you will by now have realised, I am not the most academic oriented people. I find book learning tedious and frustrating, especially when it comes to subjects that are more theoretical. I am much more responsive to such subjects where I can get my hands on them, or at least visualise the process in a practical application. Principles of flight for example I find much easier, than performance planning… which is why I am pleased to tell you I have completed ALL of my written exams.
I can not tell you the sense of relief I am feeling, or triumph… I have just one more step to go and I’ll have my PPL. It’s a thrilling thought.
Having completed all of the exams now, and while the experience is fresh in my mind, I’d like to quickly share with you my advice on the order in which you should consider doing your exams, if you’re going to be learning how to fly. This is based purely on my own experience and a little of ‘get the worst out of the way first’ thinking.
Exam 1. Aviation Law Examination
This exam consists of 16 multiple choice questions to be answered in 35 minutes, covering the legislative side of General Aviation. Topics covered range from the establishment of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in the 1940’s through to the practical application of The Rules of The Air in the modern aviation environment.
Exam 2. Meteorology Examination
16 multiple choice questions to be answered in 50 minutes. This subject provides the PPL student with a firm foundation in basic weather theory enabling interpretation of actual weather reports and forecasts to ensure safe flight.
Exam 3. Aircraft (General) Knowledge Examination:
16 multiple choice questions to be answered in 35 minutes. All matters technical are covered within this subject. Engines, airframes, fuel and oil systems.
Exam 4. Navigation and Radio Aids Examination
12 multiple choice questions to be answered in 45 minutes. From Form of the Earth to GPS, the student is taken through the same basic navigation techniques that have served past aviators so well to the radio navigation aids as employed by today’s aeroplanes.
Exam 5. Human Performance and Limitations Examination
12 multiple choice questions to be answered in 25 minutes. Aviation is a demanding and unfamiliar environment to the novice pilot, and this subject covers the psychological effects and conditions that trainee aviators will find themselves subjected to during their flying careers.
Exam 6. Flight Performance and Planning Examination
12 multiple choice questions to be answered in 45 minutes. The calculations that guarantee safe flight begin long before the engine is started. A pilot must be able to calculate the length of runway required for take-off and landing, as well as whether an aeroplane is correctly loaded within weight and balance limits, and with sufficient fuel for the planned flight.
Exam 7. Communications Examination
12 multiple choice questions to be answered in 20 minutes. The theoretical side of aviation Radio-Telephony (RT) communications, ranging from the phonetic alphabet through to the finer points of the ‘language’ of flying.
Exam 8. Operational Procedures Examination
12 multiple choice questions to be answered in 30 minutes. This subject covers standard procedures for pilots to ensure rules are complied with and safety is maintained.
Exam 9. Principles of Flight
12 multiple choice questions to be answered in 35 minutes. This subject covers how and why aircraft fly, lift, drag, thrust and weight are all examined in detail.
My next step is to brush up on practical skills and go through some ‘practice tests’ but before that I’m having a week off, bumbling around Cornwall. As I write this, the sun is shining, birds are singing and the waves are gently washing the shore in the background. Life, is, good.