I am of course talking about the exam here and not the limitations of my abilities as a human (of which there are many – I couldn’t run a marathon for example). As you will be aware, in order to gain a EASA PPL, or even an LAPL you’re required to sit 9 exams covering a range of subjects from “Air Law” through to navigation and “Human Performance and Limitations”. To do all of the exams you’re afforded 6 “sittings” each of which lasts for 10 days – quite why they do it like this I don’t know, it seems like a pointless administration exercise, but that’s just how it works.
There is no real order in which to take the exams, but to balance things out, ideally you need to do 2 or 3 exams during each sitting, so you’re not super stressed and overwhelmed by the process later in the course. I have already taken Air Law which was the most sensible exam to take first and tomorrow I’ll be sitting “Human Performance”. This exam covers all of the information you need to know about the effects of being a human on your flying. When I started this process, I had no idea that I would be learning about so many different topics and how much knowledge I would be gaining. I am really quite enjoying it. For example I now know that there are different types of memory depending on the action and how the mind is affected by external factors, I know real medical terms and have a better understanding of what happens at altitude… I have learned all about how the ear works, how the eyes focus light and what parts of the retina are sensitive to certain conditions… all things I have never had to consider in the past such as, how oxygen decreases in the body, what the effects of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are, how your brain reacts to different “pictures” like wider runways than you expect, or runways that slope. Lots of it is just common sense, but a great deal of Human Performance is medically based too.
A pilot has to be proficient in so many areas to ensure they are as safe as can possibly be and these exams are designed to ensure that everyone is trained to the same basic standard… A standard that I was at first worried about attaining as I have never been the academic type, nor are my mental mathematic skills very good, I am very much more “hands on” when it comes to learning, I am not one for the theory behind something, or rather, I am but I need to know how it works first so I can visualise the process as I study the theory. Maybe this is why I find maths (and always have) so tediously difficult. but, step by step, bit by bit I can see myself actually getting there… Im astounded by my own “human performance” so far. You actually can teach a not so old dog new tricks. It’s brilliant!
There are a lot of resources out there that will help with exam revision and my advice is, use as many of them as you can. Along with the Pooleys exam revision papers, Im also subscribing to a number of online revision tools. Each online resource is about £20 and most I discover are based on real exam questions so whether thats a subscription to www.pplcruiser.co.uk or www.airquiz.com or www.ppltutor.com the more resources you have, the better your revision will be. Im now at the point of getting steady 95% scores on all of the resources I have… so we’ll see what tomorrow brings after my early morning lesson.
This morning I woke at 6am, ready to start the day. I looked out of the window and the sky was azure, not a cloud to be seen.. it was a good day for flying. That is at least until I drove over Pepperpot Hill on the A36. North of the hill, was overcast, low-laying cloud and downright nasty. What’s more, My lesson wasn’t actually booked until 10:30am – So I had woken at the crack of dawn, rushed my morning ablutions and fought through the traffic for no reason at all… not a happy puppy. I took the opportunity to sit-down and nail exam 2 in my course as described above before I flew…. and I did. I mean, like totally nailed it… I’m worried now that I may be setting myself up for a fall. Two 100% passes in a row… the next 7 can’t be this easy, surely?