Week 5 – Revision

Gulfstream II

Not a massive amount to report on this week in comparison to previous weeks. As next week, week 6, is our first exams (Test 1’s) most of this week was given to revision. By the end of the week we had reached the test 1 limits of each subject and even finished the entire DC Electrics and Piston Engines syllabus. That mess that next week, following our exams, we will start AC Electrics and Gas Turbine (Jet) Engines – both subjects carry a much higher waiting in the EASA exams than DC and Pistons.

Tuesday night was our usual Pizza night and Vicky’s birthday, so probably the first time most of the group were out together. The evening also contained the usual drunken mess that we’ve had in previous weeks.

During the week Larry Flynt flew into the airport on his private jet (a jet black Gulfstream II) – You can tell it has been a quiet week if a plane landing at an airport is classed as noteworthy! It is great to be in an environment with so many professional pilots around, it keeps us motivated through the ever growing mountain of books and studying.

As i said previously, next week is our Test 1’s, Monday is also my birthday! We are planning to go out as a group once the exams are over which will be like a belated birthday party!

Private Jet at OXF

P.S. Hi Dan!


Week 4 – Flaps, Slots and Slats

Captain Cam

Week four is now complete and with it the first month of Ground School. We are now a third of the way through Phase One and a sixth of the way through Ground School. AP359 started yesterday (Friday) which means we are no longer the newbies.

On paper this week seemed a lot simpler than week 3, however the work load seemed to step up this week making everything a little more complex. In Principles of Flight we began to look at stability – the subject everyone has said is the most difficult! At the moment it seems pretty straight forward however we have only scratched the surface. Looking ahead the whole of stability is 100 pages of a 700 page text book (a large percentage of PoF). In Piston Engines we looked at propellers, again probably the most complex part of the subject. Propellers would fit much better in PoF rather than Piston Engines as it is all about aerodynamic flow, with the prop being a regular aerofoil (similar to a wing). The other subject causing problems this week was Meteorology. We started to look at Wind, lower winds to be specific. For some reason this subject just didn’t click with me this week, I spent a lot of time going over and over the subject with very little success. On Friday we had a double lesson to finish the day and I feel like the whole thing finally clicked. The subject is actually a lot simpler than I first thought and therefore I feel like I have been overthinking it!
In Airframes we continued to look at Landing Gear, Wheels and Braking systems, all very straight forward. We were scheduled for a lot of Human Performance this week which meant we finished the subject (for Test 1) and were able to do 3 practice papers! Next week we have been scheduled for another 6 hours so I have no idea how we are going to fill that time! In Instruments we also finished everything we need for Test 1. The final section was the Direct Reading Magnetic Compass, an instrument which I understood straight away (possibly because it has limited maths involved!). Finally, in DC Electrics, we finished looking at the Generator for both single and twin engine aircraft and began to look back at what we covered in the first few weeks.

All in all this was probably the most difficult week so far, mainly due to the amount of work we covered. By the end of Tuesday I felt I had reached saturation point and very little would go in after that.

My free time this week was a bit more eventful than the previous weeks. On Monday we welcomed our course mascot Captain Cam to the class. He is a penguin from Build a Bear with a pilots uniform on! On Monday night i decided to pop to Sainsbury’s to stock up for the week and ended up breaking down on the way back! After a 90 min wait for the AA I found out that the clutch was broken and the car was taken away to a garage to be fixed. Tuesday was pizza night and we were joined by some of the Emirates cadets, who had come to watch the football. I didn’t plan to stay in the pub for too longer, however in the end it ended up being a late night (not my usual London late, I was back and in bed by 11.30 – crazy!). Wednesday night became study catch up time, I managed to work solid for about 5/6 hours, which felt good on Thursday! On Thursday evening I went to pick my car up from the Garage in a small village to the north of Oxford. The sun was shining so it was nice to drive around the countryside and forget about work for a bit.

This week we were also given the confirmed date for our Test 1’s (COAA progress tests), which will be 4th & 5th March – Week 6. This means we get a reasonable amount of revision time for most subjects, however i think a few subjects will be crammed into next week in order for us to finish on time!

Week 3 – QNH, QFE, QFF

Another week has finished and this one was the toughest week so far!

Langford MapOnce our timetable for the week was published we could see this week was going to be catch up week. At COAA the ground instructors have a rough guideline of how many hours you should complete each week in each subject, however sometimes they can’t always fit in the hours they need to and as a result you end up with a timetable like ours for week 3. Our catch up consisted of 9 hours of Principles of Flight and 8 hours of Meterology! Having 8/9 hours of any subject in a week is difficult due to to sheer amount of work you cover, especially in subjects like Met and PoF which are relatively complex. The key (as always) is to stay on top of the workload every week!

We didn’t just study Met and PoF this week, we also had the usuals; Piston Engines, DC Electric, Airframe Systems and Flight Instruments.

HydraulicsIn Flight Instruments we finished looking at pressure instruments and started to look at the compass, which meant a nice lesson on magnetism. We also looked at magnetism in DC Electrics as we started the chapter on generators – which is not too different to my degree! Meteorology covered humidity and turbulence, subjects that i think may crop up on a regular basis for the rest of my career. In Piston Engines we looked at the problems of ice build up in an engine and mixture control – keeping the aircraft running as economical as possible (as our instructor keeps pointing out – We are not doing this for fun, its for profit!). And finally in Airframe Systems we continued to look at aircraft hydraulics and began to look at landing gear.

Love BugsTuesday was our usual pizza night, this time we joined AP357 (the course above us). Its nice to start getting to know other courses, especially the courses that we will be in Phoenix with towards the end of the year. On Thursday most of the group went to a cinema on the other side of Oxford to see “That Awkward Moment”. I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the film! On my way back to London on Friday I got stuff for me and Amy to have a nice Valentines dinner together – a dinner which included lots of catching up on our week. Yesterday (Saturday) me and Amy went for a nice long walk before going our for dinner in the evening. Last night we watch “Silver Linings Playbook” – a great film! Today is study day, getting onto of everything from last week.
On Friday AP359 start, which means we are no longer the new course!

Ramp Aircraft

Week 2 – Transformers, Magneto and One Direction.

Week two of ground school phase one is now complete and the pace of the course is starting to increase!

OXF RampThe start of the week felt much more settled and we are starting to feel less like the new kids (a feeling that won’t completely go way until AP359 start in two weeks). It has been a relatively straight forward week as we continue to work through the EASA syllabus and get ready for Test 1’s (a progress test after 6 weeks).
In Aircraft Instruments we continued to look at the pressure instruments, focusing on the Altimeter and the Mach Meter. Both of which are relatively simple, although they will involve a bit of maths in the exam. The importance of understanding the pressure instruments became apparent when we watch a documentary about Air France flight 744, which disappeared over the Atlantic in 2009. During the flight the pressure sensors became blocked and therefore the pilot was receiving incorrect information from his instruments. As he was unable to spot the problem the aircraft stalled and ultimately crashed. In aviation an incident is never caused by one single element and this is also true of AF744, however it really shows how important our ground school training is!

In piston engines we began looking at methods of cooling and lubricating an engine as well as the fuel it needs to run. In Airframes we began looking at aircraft hydraulics, which play a massive part in the automation of modern aircraft. In Electrics we looked a fuses and batteries, which is much more basic than my degree knowledge (at the moment!). In Meteorology we looked at Pressure Systems, Density and Temperature – yes it is as interesting as it sounds! In Principles of Flight we looked at how an aircraft stays in the air – this time it wasn’t due to PFM (Pure F*cking Magic). And finally in Human Performance we continued to look at the effects of flying on the human body. All in all a busy week!

photo 1-1Next week is going to become a bit more intense as we ramp up the hours of Principles of Flight and Meteorology.

The week wasn’t all work – its really important to take some time out of studying (as our instructors keep telling us). Tuesday night was our usual 2-4-1 pizza night in Kidlington. Its always a nice relaxing atmosphere and so far we have had a different group of people turn up each time. This week we banned anyone from discussing the course as we had already had a pretty intense day. That didn’t quite go to plan, however the balance of conversation worked well!
We aso discovered that someone on our course (who shall remain nameless) has an obsession with penguins… This has lead us to create a course mascot – a penguin in a pilots uniform. He has been named Captain Cam (after our Piston Engine instructor who has an obsession with cam shafts!).

On Thursday it was Happy Hour in school – an evening for all courses to get together over a few (free) beers. Unfortunately a lot of our course decided not to come along so we were only a small group – we still had a great time though. That night we went into Oxford with AP355 (who had just completed phase 1) and AP357 (the course above us). It was a great night!!!

Night in OxfordThis weekend should be relatively relaxed again before another intense week of ground school.

Week 1 – Engines, Instruments and a bit of PFM!

It has been a long week, however the first week of Ground School is complete!

Before starting a COAA anyone I have spoken to, both professional pilots and other cadets, have said that 6 months of ground school will be the most intense and difficult time of my entire career. After only a week I can see what they mean! We are currently in school for  6 lessons a day (each lesson is 1 hour) with an hour for lunch. The day usually ends with a period 7 which is an hour of CBT (Computer Based Training). Many airlines rely on CBT when pilots do type rating so it is good practice to start self teaching at this stage.
photo 5Monday started quiet easily with a brief introduction from Chief Ground instructor, Mike Steer, and our mentor for the next 6 months, Graham Wood. This was followed by an introduction to CBT, which coincidentally has been upgraded and AP358 is the first course to use it. The day then continued with lessons in Airframes, Flight Instruments, Piston Engines, Meteorology and a CBT on Principles of Flight.
As the week progressed we continued studying the subjects we had started on Monday and also started DC Electric and Human Performance. After only a week I can already see the subject(s) that I am going to be putting the most effort into and the subjects that come to me the easiest – although a lot can change within the next few weeks!

This week I have tried to not spend all of my free time studying. As the course progresses I am going to need to put more hours in to studying so I didn’t want to give it 100% in the first week – As our instructors keep pointing out; the course is not a sprint, it is a marathon! You wouldn’t start a marathon running as fast as you can otherwise you would burn out after a few miles.
As a group we went to the pub on Tuesday night to watch the Liverpool v Everton match and have 2-4-1 pizza! On Wednesday I met Fred for a quick drink in Kidlington and then went for a nice home cooked dinner with Fred and Kat on Thursday night – after a few hours study of course!

This weekend I am hoping to have a relaxing Saturday with Amy and get stuck into the books on Sunday ready for week 2!

photo 6