08/11/2016 – It had been a long time since I’d done any exams, the 1970s in fact, so passing nine before I could get my licence caused me more trepidation than the actual flying. I knew I’d be missing some lessons over winter due to the weather so I’d planned to complete all my exams so as to be ready to finish everything by the time the skies cleared.
I’d been considering exactly how to get through the exams. I seemed to have three main choices;
A) Go away for a week to a residential ground school where I’d learn in a classroom of a few people and take all the exams in the same week.
B) Learn by myself using books, and then just take the exams at the flying school.
C) Use a local ground school where I’d have 1-to-1 tuition immediately followed by the exam.
Option A would work out to be about £1200-£1500 pounds, including all the tuition, exams, accommodation, food etc. It would also entail me being away from home for a week. I felt fairly sure that it would work for me and I would be almost guaranteed to pass all the exams, there would be less distractions while away from home and I would probably study in the hotel. But it was pretty expensive and I didn’t really feel like being away for a week in a room on my own, art wasn’t exactly going to be a holiday.
Option B would be the cheapest, with just the exam costs to pay. Luke, my instructor at Gamston Flying School had also offered to help me out on some of the subjects. But I was a bit wary of doing it from a book as it’s very hard to ask it to explain itself if you don’t really get what it’s saying. I felt there was a possibility I might fail if I went this route. And I really didn’t want to have to take the exams multiple times.
Option C would work out about the same cost as going away to a ground school. The tuition would be more, but there’d be no extra costs for hotel and food. There was a ground school at Gamston – True Air Speed Training – so I’d know where I was going every time. Plus they work closely with my flying school and there’s be no issues getting the completion certificate when it was time to apply for my licence. As it was 1-to-1 training and I had all day to do each subject I knew I’d be able to grill the instructors and make sure I really understood the material.
After weighing up all the options I decided to go for C. I knew it was going to take longer overall as I’d only be doing 1, or at most 2 subjects a week. But I’d given myself a couple of months to get through them all. Plus I could do my Radio-Telephony test there too. You may find another of the options works for you. But as someone who never does exams I wanted to security blanket of someone I could ask direct questions.
On the 8th November I turned up at True Air Speed Training for my first day of tuition and my first exams, Air Law and Operational Procedures. I was much more nervous than I was more the actual flying. Although I’d read the books and done some mock tests I still considered there was a chance I might fail.
I was introduced to Graham, my instructor for the day. Like me he was a middle aged man, and we got on really well. He was very patient with my questions. Often I would ask the same thing multiple times in slightly different formats to make sure I understood everything and he was actually quite pleased that I was so keen to make sure I knew the material. He was also confident at the end of the day that I did know my stuff and he was sure I wouldn’t have any problems with the exams.
Despite this when the time came for the papers I was still pretty nervous. I needn’t have worried though as I got 100% in both Air Law and Operational Procedures! At that point I was pretty sure that the investment I’d made in having personal tuition was going to work out well for me.
If you want to know more, the podcast, as always, contains an expanded version of the above.