Monday, 22 September 2014

Week 3

It's really scary how fast time is going here! As we're a small class I think we're making pretty fast progress as a couple of our test 1s have been brought forward, putting them in week 5 which is just over a week away. Very scary as that marks the half way point of phase one and halfway to school finals and EASAs! So far I feel it's going quite well,  I just need to practice more of the questions to get into the swing of exam mode.

Most of the guys in my class have already got the on-line question banks but I think I'm going to save that for after test 1s, more than anything I don't want my membership to expire before the end of my phase 2 EASAs and test 1 is a sort of progress exam set by Oxford and the marks aren't external. After that I believe we're given an Oxford Aviation question bank which will be great for lots of practice question for school finals and I'm planning on getting an ATPL question bank at that point aswell.

Currently my revision is to come home, make a few notes on the chapter's we've done that day and then do the questions from the textbook. The instructor's are all really great, it's so much more chilled out than when you were back in school but they're always around during the breaks in case you need any extra help. It's just really hard motivating yourself to come home and do more studying and a CBT having been sat in the classroom all day, especially since we've had another full timetable this week.

On Friday night I went to the pub with my new house mate and some of the guys in the new course who live on the same road (my course were being boring and decided to study in the evening!), it's fun to mix up with the others and the only people you really see during ground school are your own course. At least we're not the baby course any more. My weekend consisted of doing work, mostly making colourful revision notes, and a really exciting excursion to Tesco for a weekly food shop, fun, fun.

Oh well, it's only for 6 months and as it's going so fast that really won't be long at all. Motivation; that's the name of the game.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Week two of course Snow White and the Seven giants (the boys are all taller than me!)

Wow, what a busy week! Kind of scary how fast it's gone. We've been packed with 6 lessons a day, followed by a CBT, every day this week. It's been really tiring and you don't really have time to take it in before your next class. By the time you get home you eat something then get back to your books which is so hard to motivate yourself to do. I mean just look at this timetable:

We had quite a bit of PoF (principles of flight) this week which is a little tricky to get your head round at first and you just feel like you've been hit over the back of the head with the amount of information you're supposed to retain each day. It's not too bad when you get home and can consolidate the stuff from the textbook though so it's definitely all manageable. We finished slightly early on Friday as the instructor thought we needed a bit of a break so we went to the pub (of course), some of the best advice we've gotten is to not get too stressed and worn out during this first month. It's all about getting a good routine and getting used to how you study.

This weekend has been so so busy (probably why this blog post is so delayed). On the Friday night as per the instructor's instructions to take things easy, the course went to the pub. There are now 9 of us on 365 as we have a member who has been moved from a different course. I'm still glad it's a small number though as it means we get more attention and get along better.

On Saturday was the open day which was crazy. I went to one of these things last year and now I'm actually helping out?! I felt really proud of myself and it felt weird knowing I'd done a complete 180 in my life, or at least that's how it feels. Can't imagine how it'll feel when I actually get my CPL. On the open day (I had to be there at 8.45??) I did the meet and greet first in the morning, mostly just showing people where the toilets were or where the coffee was, then was sent up to the assessment centre to help run practice sessions of the COMPASS assessment. This was tricky as we were supposed to give verbal instruction, let them practice one or two of each test and then move on. The problem was most people wanted to stay on them and didn't want to switch so we had to be a little forceful at times. But obviously all while being super friendly and promoting Oxford. It was really nice talking to people though and I'll definitely try and do another Open day in the future. One thing that was strange is that I remember being terrified of the COMPASS during my assessment and it actually seemed kind of easy this time around on the few that I tried, could be that I've practised it and seen it all before?

I also felt like the open day would be a good way to meet people who were not on my course (you tend to stick with your own class all day, every day) and it was really lovely to mix and be super jealous of those who've come back from America.

Saturday evening I moved next door into the student house, and I'm finally getting a double bed, yay! I really enjoyed the other house and am very glad they're just over the fence if I need anything. At the moment there's just me and one other guy living here however there should be more moving in with the new course starting at the end of this week. Exciting to see who my new house mates will be (The only thing I know is that they're all boys).

On Sunday my parents came to visit. My dad has a PPL so flew down in his Cessna 152 so I had to go back to the airport yet again to great them and we went out for lunch which was really nice. Sunday evening I felt super guilty and attempted to do a little work as I'd seriously missed out that weekend. I'm still not too worried about them though.

I found a solution to my bag being so heavy! Behold the cart, best purchase I've made recently!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Well, I survived the first week!

Week one of ATPL ground school, done. And it's just flown by! A bit scary considering my test 1 exams are now in 5 weeks!

So far, it's been going great although really tiring, I'm hoping that wears off once I get into the swing of being back at school again. I come home from school and spend a few hours consolidating what we've done that day or as the instructors put it "writing a new textbook needlessly". But it helps and we don't have much hardcore homework yet. At the end of each day we have CBT periods with a small test at the end and I've been getting pretty good marks on those so I'm feeling good so far, I thought I'd find this phase more difficult (though I know it will get harder).

Wearing the full uniform and playing with the MASSIVE CRP-5 computer in an instruments class:

My favourite subject at the moment is 'Meterology', and we're doing about the atmosphere, there's a fair amount to learn like all the standard ISA temperatures and pressures for different altitudes but I find it quite interesting. I'm also finding that a lot of the classes link together which definitely helps broaden your understanding and finding out how the pressure we learn about about in say, Met will affect the ASI (airspeed instrument) readings we're studying in 'Aircraft Instruments'. I also love Human Performance but I knew I would, so far we've watched a few videos and discussed what went wrong, really not been difficult at the moment!

My least favourite subject is probably 'Systems', I'm finding it a little dry and technical at the moment as we're learning about structures and composite materials and the different stresses and strains experienced during flight. It feels a little like an engineering course rather than a pilot course however we are only on chapter one and its relevance will probably become clear soon. I guess we have to know that kind of thing to be aware of how the structure of the airplane could be affect by our (extreme) flying. Who knows? I am interested to see if my opinion of my subjects changes throughout the course, which it definitely will.

This weekend I went back into Oxford again to be a tourist and I've got to say what a gorgeous city! The sun was shining and we went all around just enjoying it. There won't be much free time later on in the course so I might as well enjoy seeing this part of the country while I can (while the weather stays nice!)

Monday, 1 September 2014

My very first day of ground school!

So this morning I knew how to tie a Windsor knot - yay, thank you cadets! I had to re-do it a few times as the tie was a bit thick and way too long for me but the know how was definitely there.

Ground school is split into two phases leading up to the dreaded EASA exams, the first set of exams is going to be 1st December which seems really soon!! Luckily on our first day they eased us into it and started off slow with introductory sessions as part of each period where we got to know our instructors. So far they all seem great and most are ex-military which is very interesting.

Phase 1 Exams:

  • Meterology
  • Principles of Flight
  • Power plant (Propulsion)*
  • Human Performance (Yay, Psychology!)*
  • Systems*
  • Instruments*
  • Electronics
Stars are for the ones I had today. We also have allocated times on our schedules for CBTs (Computer Based training) this is just running through a video and then being tested on it. If you don't pass you need to start over and re-do that section. Today we had a short introduction to Principles of Flight on the CBT and I got 100% on my first attempt (Again, thank you Air Cadets!)

They also asked if anyone wanted to be course representative so I volunteered! You just have to take attendance and make sure the classroom's tidy really but it made me feel important :)

I came home and made some notes about the piston engine, the work isn't too tough now and we didn't have much homework as it's only the first day but I know it's only going to get more difficult. First day's are always so scary and I'm glad today turned out okay. I definitely am NOT used to being in a classroom all day though, my back started aching halfway through from being sat at a desk and I surely needed some coffee about halfway through. Oh and the books still weight a tonne, I only took four of them in today and had to lug them all home... Tomorrow's mission is to find somewhere I can buy a little trolley for my flight case.