1st Round of EASA CPL(A) Exams Booked

Since my last post I have been busy studying ~800 pages of course notes for Human Performance, Aircraft General Knowledge, Instrumentation and Principles of Flight. I have passed all 13 Progress Tests for Module 1, booked a three day classroom brush up course (if on an CPL(A) course, CAPT like you to do all required three days up prior to first round of exams) and the exams themselves have been booked via the CAA Web Portal.

Exams are booked for 13th and 14th March at the Ayr Exam Centre near Prestwick Airport with the brush up classroom element taking place 9th to 11th March just up the road in Troon.

No turning back now.

I’m in the middle of exam preparation now and have signed up for Bristol Question Bank as well as Aviation Exam.

Human Performance Mock Exam completed successfully yesterday and am now working on Principles of Flight.

EASA CPL(A) Knowledge Theory Course

An ambition of mine since learning to fly a couple of decades ago is to qualify as a Flight Instructor to put something back into the hobby which has given me so much pleasure and one which I dearly love so much.  The idea of teaching someone the art of flying and seeing them flourish and succeed in whatever path he or she may choose really does drive me towards this ultimate goal.

As the saying goes, it is now or never!

In terms of pre-requisites in order to start a Flight Instruct or Course you need to hold either an EASA CPL(A) or PPL(A) and if the latter at least 200 Hours of Flight Time including 150 Hours of Pilot in Command.  I meet the latter requirements including the other requirements, i.e. 20 hours cross-country time including 300nm Cross-Country flight landing at two airfields other than the initial point of departure.

However, one would be limited to teach people without a licence towards the issue of an LAPL(A) only unless an EASA CPL(A) or CPL Knowledge is also held.  EASA deem “CPL Knowledge” as CPL Theoretical Exams passed and I decided the best course of action would be to enrol in a CPL knowledge course which will also help in re-familiarisation of the theory required for the instructor course.

So with the decision made to sit the examinations, I had another decision to make.  CPL or ATPL theory?  There are numerous schools providing ATPL Distance Learning courses but only a relatively small number of schools providing dedicated CPL courses, primarily because most students will opt to go straight for the ATPL exams which are required for an Airline career and there is no reason not to go straight for these.

I have a career outside of Aviation and if I ever wish to obtain a full EASA Instrument Rating I do not need to sit the IR Theory Exams as I can convert my FAA IR via the EASA CB-IR route.  Therefore, the decision in the end was quite an easy one. for me.  CPL(A) Distance Learning Course.

Unfortunately, whereas there are plentiful ATPL theory schools, there are limited numbers providing dedicated CPL(A) Distance Learning Courses are a little thin on the ground, at least in the UK, options are 50/50 between:

Caledonian Advanced Pilot Training 
CATS Aviation Training

What has swayed the choice in favour of Caledonian for me was their compulsory classroom elements were a commutable distance from where I live in Scotland and required only one day for each of the three modules as opposed to CATS who require attendance at their HQ in Luton for four days for each of their three modules.

Caledonian Advanced Pilot Training it is then and I enrolled this morning.

Upon payment (via Pay Pal) I was promptly sent a Student Application Form which requires the standard information as well as scanned copies of my EASA PPL(A) and Passport for their records.  These are required as they need to ensure I am meet the elegibility requirements to undertake the course (at least an ICAO PPL is required) and they need to also to make sure I am who I say I am!

By return I was sent a link to the PDF materials for Module 1 which is broken down into the following subjects:

Human Factors
Airframes, Systems and Engines
Principles of Flight

Spread across ~800 pages.

Er… what have I gone and done?

From the quick glances I have made to the course notes, they seem to be well written and laid out.  We have progress tests to pass each week with thirteen weeks work for module one based upon ~20 hours studying a week.  They also provide six months free access to Aviation Exam which is enabled approximately a month before your first set of exams to ensure the fullest benefit to their students.

I will keep you all updated as to my perceptions, experiences and progress during the theory course and exams but for now the hard work starts!

EASA SEP(L) Renewal Proficiency Check

After being weathered off last week I met the examiner for an SEP(L) Renewal Proficiency Check today.

Early wake up call as the weather looked as if it may co-operate during the morning and closing in with front coming through early afternoon.  Was half awake as was pretty nervous yet excited and with the prospect of clear skies I logged onto the computer and briefed myself on today’s Weather Forecast and Actual as well as in-scope Notices to Airmen (NOTAM).

The weather looked to be as promised and calling the examiner at a pre-arranged time it was decided as a go and we 

First Renewal Flight

After celebrating my 41st Birthday yesterday I was very much looking forward to today as after nearly seven years of not touching the controls, I had booked in my first flying lesson to renew my SEP(L) rating and convert to an EASA PPL(A).

I have decided to join Fife Flying Club which is based at Fife Airfield in Glenrothes as I used to be based in Fife when I was a syndicate owner of a lovely TB9 a number of years ago. The resident ATO is Tayside Aviation who have a satellite base in Fife and a main hub at Dundee Airport from which they teach PPL(A), CPL(A), IR, MEP and Flight Instructor Courses among ATPL Ground School and even a BSc Degree programme.

Having visited Fife a couple of weeks ago I had booked myself in with an instructor whom I knew as he used to check me out from time to time when I was a syndicate owner of a lovely TB9 based at Fife Airport.

The day starts promising with a wake up call to go and put our horses out into the field for the day (they should be out full time from next week, I do like summer!). After a 45 minute drive I arrive at Fife and walk into Tayside Aviation where I was greeted by my instructor and also a new instructor who had only passed his Assessment of Competence a week earlier.

Last time I was a member they had the flying school in the main building where the famous Tipsy Nipper restaurant is located. Since then a lot has changed with the restaurant expanding a little, the old “greenhouse” radio room being demolished and a new pre-fabricated building serving its purpose as the premises for Tayside Aviation and an outpost for the Radio operator.

I was asked if I would mind if I was swapped over to the new instructor and I gladly said that was no problem at all, for it will give him experience with putting someone through an SEP(L) renewal programme.

The plan for this first flight was to see how rusty I was and to plan what we were to do from there. We were to depart and head East, along the coast towards Crail where we would go through upper air work such as Steep Turns. On the way we would practice slow flight and on the way back a load of PFL’s. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end!

Medical Renewed

I am really happy as today I once again have a valid Medical Certificate and can book some slots at the flying club to renew my SEP(L) rating.

Having learnt towards the end of last Century, I hold a lifetime valid UK-issued Private Pilots Licence and for a number of years I enjoyed flying around various parts of the UK, Channel Islands and France attending various fly-ins in the process and even managed a few flying holidays across the pond in GA-haven… United States.

Over the years I added IMC and Night Ratings to my PPL as well as gaining a full FAA CPL/IR in Single and Multi Engine aeroplanes.

Moved to Scotland in 2008 and bought a share in a lovely TB9 a year later.  Flying around the Scottish Countryside is a sight to behold and can be simply stunning on a clear day.  What an experience!  However, for various reasons, mid-2011, I decided it was time to sell my share and unknown to me at the time it would be the last time I flew as Pilot in Command.

Fast forward to earlier this year and I decided it was time to get back into the saddle.

Since then I have been shedding excess weight as I simply had to if I wish not to have health problems in future years and as a treat to myself decided to book an appointment to renew my medical at the friendly local AME

Today was D-Day but I needn’t have worried as the medical itself was pretty straight forward.  Fill in the medical form/questionnaire prior to turning up at the surgery but don’t sign it until with the Doctor.  Urine sample whilst you are waiting for your appointment so make sure you drink lots of water before you go!  You want a full bladder.  First things first, checked my Passport to prove I was who I say I am.

We discussed a few things from the contents of the form and the first item on the agenda was blood pressure.  Now I knew my blood pressure was normal a couple of weeks prior and was shocked to see it pretty high at the medical, white coat syndrome is something I’ve not experienced before but sure enough a few minutes later my blood pressure was normal.

My weight wasn’t even raised as an issue as my BMI was worked out to be 27.2 which wasn’t bad considering I started the year at 35.7 and when I said what I had been doing the AME was well pleased with my progress over the last few months especially as my parents have Type 2 Diabetes and High Blood Pressure so I do need to look after myself and watch my weight.  I’m working on ensuring my BMI is down to the top end of “normal” by the end of the year, this is definitely do-able.

I cut my weight down by simply cutting out all bad foods, replacing with healthy alternatives and eating in moderation.  Plus personal training sessions twice a week to get my fitness levels up although I have had PT sessions since last April but my weight has remained roughly the same (254 lbs) because I wasn’t eating healthily!  If I can do it then I’m sure you can, just takes will power initially but just becomes the norm after a while.

Next was climb onto the bed and standard limb checks, he did put the gloves on and I started to become a little worried but I needn’t have been, just a check for a hernia.  As I have diagnosed Asthma I had to obtain a written report from my GP and do a best of three peak-flow tests, all within limit guidance and fine.

A hearing check was repeating a sentence that the doctor spoke quietly behind me.  If, down the line I decide to go for a full IR I will need to pass the Class 1 Audiometry test as an additional requirement.

Last but not least for the main part of the medical was the various eye tests, standard Snellen Eye Chart for Distance as well as a Short Distance version for reading.  Standard colour test using the book.  Convergence check using a pencil as a focus and that was it for the main part of the medical.

There was confusion over whether I required an ECG or not, I was sure I did need one as I am over 40 and the CAA Medical Department confirmed the same when the AME called.  The AME was trying to save me money which was nice.

The ECG came back as normal which he was more than pleased with (probably because he didn’t need to pay the CAA any referral fees!) and nothing more to be said except, “you’ve passed with only the require correcting lenses and a spare pair available limitation and that will be £280 please”, said with a smile.

Was at the surgery for around an hour and out I walked with a newly printed EASA Class 2 medical.  Happy days!  I am now free to join the flying club and book some lessons to renew my SEP(L)!

On-wards and upwards!