Sunday, 31 August 2014

My brand new kit!

Thought I'd share some piccies to give you an idea of how much new kit we were given on Friday!

So here is everything:

Let's break it down!

Flight Bag

As well as the brand new, leather, super professional looking flight bag it contained the following: 
  • Clipboard
  • CPR-5 flight computer
  • Scientific calculator (loving the attention to detail here Oxford!)
  • Compass (drawing, not navigational)
  • HighVis vest
  • Fuel contamination checker
  • Two types of rulers, one was square!
I love how even the flight computer has to have the Oxford logo on it:

It actually looks really complicated and scary, I have not a clue how to use this thing. 

The 'make your momma's proud' kind, I wanted to cry when I put mine on because this is actually happening. You can take it back to exchange as long as you don't take the tags off or ruin them (just like in NEXT), I already ordered the smallest sizes in everything so I'll just have to rock it even though the shirts are too long and the jacket is like a tent. C'est La Vie. 

  • Jacket - Mine is way too big for me! 
  • Two pairs of Black trousers
  • Two Sweaters - One light and one heavy
  • 5x Shirts, I opted for 3 long sleeve and 2 short sleeved. It gets cold in winter, not a clue how I'll cope in Arizona...
  • Navy Tie
Not to mention the name badge and Epaulettes! These are the starting ones with one silver band, you get different ones after you've gained your CPL. 

The books

14 ATPL textbooks and one Jeppeson Airway Manual for student pilot navigation. I've got a lot of reading to do!

Enrolment Day! - 29/08/2014

Didn't sleep one bit the night before, I was so nervous (also kind of excited). I arrived and checked in and straight away I met two of the guys on my course, glad I'd turned up in the right place. We were led to a lounge area to meet the other members of my course, mine is a pretty small one and there are only 8 of us in total, and I'm the only girl (well this is different!)

The whole day went really well I feel, all the staff and my fellow course mates were so friendly. We started off with the boring stuff; the mandatory health and safety brief. Before going to collect our books. I couldn't even lift the box! There are 14 ATPL textbooks and they are heavy, luckily someone was on hand to carry them up to the classroom for me. We had to have photos taken for our security passes and collected our uniforms, so much stuff to take home!

We met with our chief ground school instructor who sort of welcomed us onto the course and kind of worried us about the course; ground school does sound really tough. There were a load of forms in our pack to fill out including signing up for the brand new BSc in Air Transport Management degree programme, that's something fun to have under the belt and it's all included in the course. I also registered with a local GP and handed in my 9 page training agreement to Oxford; It's like a huge contract.

I say Enrolment day, it was more like a half day really and keen to get acquainted we decided to go to the pub for a few drinks. Most of the guys live in Langford halls and dropping off their stuff was easy, I'd been lucky enough to be offered a lift by one of the students living next door (I was so grateful) so after he'd dropped me off we went to the Black Horse pub in Kidlington. I was so happy everyone got along but with only 8 of us it doesn't make it that difficult. We even had plans to spend the weekend together exploring Oxford, which is a great way to unwind in our last free weekend before the dreaded ground school. Bring on Monday!

Arriving in Kidlington - 28/08/2014

I arrived in Kidlington the day before my enrolment (definitely didn't give myself enough time to settle in or unpack but what the hey!) feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement but fairly prepared for the course ahead. Here's everything I had to get sorted before starting:

CAA UK class one medical
I actually got this one back in October before I went for my OAA Assessment just so I knew everything was alright before I started. You need to bring the medical certificate and your current passport in to be able to enrol.

BALPA Life and loss of medical Insurance 
Oxford recommend a membership with BALPA (which is free to student pilots!) and they do trainee pilot insurance so it's really easy to sort out and saves you from searching around for the best deals. This is just a bit of reassurance for you in case anything went wrong with your medical you wouldn't also be burdened with the massive repayment rates for the training.

I decided that a house share would be the way forward as the internet is not a fan of Langford or Upper Heyford (the OAA halls of residence), plus they're more expensive. I'm going to be sharing with 4 other student pilots, though I'm not sure who yet and it's only about a 10 minute walk to the airport. As the house is still currently occupied I'm going to be a lodger in a neighbours family house which I was a bit unsure of at first, but they're so friendly and welcoming and even cook for me that it's definitely a way to ease back into the student lifestyle.

You need to have confirmed with OAA beforehand where your funding is going to come from. To sure your place on a course you need to pay the £5,000 deposit and then pay the initial training fee installment (£27,000) 7 days prior to the course starting.

All uniform needs to be ordered through OAA well in advance just so they can get everything in for you, especially if you have irregular sizes. You need to pick how many short or long sleeve shirts you want then give your sizes for shirts, trousers, jumpers and jackets. In shops I'm borderline size 8-10 depending where I go (even a size 6 in NEXT!) so ordered the smallest size in everything, I'm seriously hoping it'll be okay. Uniform is all included in the course fees though so no extra cost....

...Apart from shoes, you need to get shoes yourself, I found this one really tricky even though there were guidelines as to shoe style, it's so much easier for boys! I needed to find some black leather court shoe style, no stiletto or kitten heels, no decor or buckles, absolutely no metal. It's surprisingly hard to find something that fits all these requirements but I turned to my old friend Clark's and landed on these two:

Courts for ground school and flats for flying? Again, I'm hoping they'll be alright.

Name Badge
Part of the uniform requires you to wear a name badge at all times, apparently you're allowed an appropriate nickname. I just went for the boring approach and wrote my surname and first name. You need to order this one in advance as well when you order uniform.

Later in the day I was given a tour around the house I would be moving into in about two weeks which was fantastic as there are currently 5 student pilots living there at the moment. I spent the evening chatting to them about ground school (they're nearly finished with so know everything about it) which was invaluable. I was also kind of proud of myself, I'd describe myself as a shy person but I'd managed to go around and ask questions to complete strangers and spend most of the evening there without feeling any uncomfort. What a step up from when I first arrived at University!

The advice I was repeatedly getting from them was to keep on top of the work from day one and to 'smash the bank' (?). I later learnt that this refers to question banks that you can use to practice from to prepare for the exams so I'm definitely going to give that a try. The first exams are in about 6 weeks which is seriously soon so I am feeling nervous about the workload.