Saturday, 24 April 2010

Embassy Trip

Another week down, 3 more weeks of classes to go! The exams on Monday and Tuesday went reasonably well, I don’t have all my results with me but I know the average was 89%. Although I am happy with this I know it could have been more but I only got 74% in Aircraft Performance which brought the average down. However, I know this was just a blip, and celebrations still ensued on Tuesday evening. The whole class plus quite a few more people had a barbecue outside the halls of residence at the airport. It was a great evening, only spoiled by the fact embassywe were straight back in to classrooms on Wednesday morning as we  began our stretch of Ground School. We also picked up the last of our subjects, Mass & Balance with one of our favourite teachers, Ed Waddon.

It was only a 2 day week, as Friday was our trip to the US Embassy to apply/beg for our Visas. After driving home to Norfolk on Thursday evening, I was up at 3.30am to catch the train in to London on Friday morning. The Embassy is an enormous building, and security was tight; we were made to queue outside before passing through airport style security. Inside we were given a number 25500_111670492204741_100000853711725_76927_5097588_nand called up to give our fingerprints and process our forms, and also again for a brief interview. We were all a bit nervous about how thorough they would be, however I was basically just asked to confirm why I was  travelling and how long my course lasts for before being told my Visa was approved. We spent the rest of the day doing the tourist thing around London, visiting the Palace and having dinner by the London Eye. It was a beautiful day and I managed to catch a bit of sunburn as well, something I guess I’ll need to get used to when I head out to Phoenix!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Test 2s

I almost can’t believe I’m saying it but Test 2 exams have arrived, which means I’ve hit the half way point of Phase 2. The time really seems to be going quickly now, and we are fully immersed in work. The workload is as heavy as it has ever been, and over the next couple of days I’ll find out if my hard work is paying off. So, the exams we have on Monday and Tuesday are:

  • General Navigation
  • Operational Procedures
  • Flight Planning
  • Radio Navigation
  • Air Law
  • Aircraft Performance

Whereas most of the exams from Phase 1 seemed to last about 30 minutes before everyone was handing in their papers and leaving, a few of these promise to be quite long affairs. General Navigation is a 2 hour exam and we’ve been told to expect to be in there for the whole time, and Flight Planning is pretty much the same. The reason being that DSC00099 each question will probably require a good deal of working out, and praying that the answer you get appears as one of the options!

After that, it’s back to lessons from Tuesday afternoon. We also have our visit to the US Embassy booked for Friday, so it will be quite a short week of classes. I’ll be travelling home on Thursday evening and then catching the train to London from Norwich on Friday at 5.10am! I expect to be sleeping through most of that journey! And assuming everything goes okay, it’s three more weeks of classes, followed by exams, and Ground School will be over. I’m not counting down the days already, honestly…

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Sunshine in Oxford

As the days get warmer and exams get nearer and nearer, thoughts are already starting to turn to Phoenix! We had a presentation today from the Head of Flying Training, preparing us for the adventure that awaits us. He basically just gave us a brief about where we will be staying and the facilities, a bit about the area and a little bit about the flying too. It DSC00072really does feel that it’s just around the corner now, although in reality of course there is still a long way to go.

It will be a week on Monday that we will be sitting our Test 2 exams, and we are racing through the subjects, in fact we have already completed the Flight Planning material. There is a very different feel to the subjects in this phase; it was very easy just to remember correct answers for  Phase 1 as each question was very black and white. However, there is a large amount of calculation and chart plotting required for these questions, which means if you don’t know the material and the methods, you are in trouble. There is also a real sense that what we are learning now isn’t just to pass exams, a lot of it is stuff that we will be using day to day in Arizona and beyond.

We also had a presentation from EasyJet, though I wasn’t too impressed  with them. They offer a scheme for new pilots caDSC00069lled ‘flexi-crew’, which basically means they can work you as little or often as they like, with no job security whatsoever, plus you have to pay for the training. Although this scheme is the only option for some guys leaving Oxford at the moment, predictions are showing more and more that there will be a much healthier job market at the end for us, and we might be able to land something a bit better. To be honest, I have heard a lot more positives about Ryanair than EasyJet. Still, it’s a long way off yet!