Having endured my longest ever flying journey, moved in to CTC's Clearways Accommodation and enjoyed my first weekend visiting Raglan beach and Bridal Veil falls with coursemates, it was time for us all to return to some structure. Arriving nice and early our first day consisted of various introductions from the centre director to the head of training and even health and safety, followed by a talk on the structure of our course and it's many milestones. Later on in the day we were given a tour of the facilities, including the apron and aircraft. Being up and close with the flying operation here made my hairs stand up on end as the fruits of six months hard work are finally within reach.
After lunch we set up IT accounts to aid with eventual flight planning and rostering before collecting our training documents and aircraft flight manuals. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I and one other coursemate had been assigned the Cessna C172 (as per photo) complete with a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit. Having initially expected the Diamond DA20 typical of most New Zealand Whitetail courses, I'm looking forward to getting to grips with electronic flight instruments from day one.
Towards the end of the day a local bank visited the training centre to open fee-free current accounts for those of us whom required one. Despite having a Revolut card, I had also brought currency with me and didn't like the idea of holding on to it, so took them up on their offer to deposit it at their Hamilton branch.
Based on CTC Aviation's huge presence in New Zealand - second in total flying hours to Air New Zealand - and the fact each of us have 14 ATPL exam passes, we are exempt from local authorities requirement to possess a local private pilots licences in order to fly solo. Such an exemption is not without its conditions though, so just when we thought ground school was over we were told we had to complete two additional exams: "New Zealand / United Kingdom Differences" and "New Zealand PPL Air Law".
With New Zealand being miles away from Europe and the chances of us operating here commercially being quite slim, it's no surprise that the EASA ATPL syllabus didn't cover the nation in great depth. Therefore, during differences training we covered the local meteorology, climatology, charts, airspace, air traffic services and search and rescue among other things. Unsurprisingly there was quite a lot of overlap in many places, but there was also a fair amount of variation in others. We were given the rest of the afternoon and evening to revise before sitting the paper the next morning. With a pass mark of 70%, I'm pleased to say I attained higher and could therefore put a tick in one of two exam boxes.
With differences out of the way it was time for PPL Air Law!
Having already completed the topic of Air Law to ATPL standard and with both New Zealand and the UK being members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, most of this topic was overlap. With that said though, there are still variations. For example, there's no upper age limit for pilots here which means that whilst 70 year old John Doe can't fly for the airlines as they set their own limitations, there's nothing to say he can't be found crop-dusting or towing a glider. Some other differences include mountainous flying, weather services, requiring type-ratings on every type / variant of aircraft and air traffic control availability.
Given the weekend to revise, we were booked to sit the exams a few km down the road in a nearby shopping centre. With 35 questions to complete in 70 minutes I'm pleased to say I can also put a tick in the Air Law exam box having passed with a score of 80%. All that remains between our CP and flying now is meeting our primary instructors, a couple of briefings on our assigned aircraft and, of course, mother nature! At the time of writing this post it's quite a toasty 25°C outside which makes a change from our autumnal climate back home. With that said though there's certainly plenty of cloud cover which can cause bother for us newbie pilots. Here's to hoping I can keep in her good books and have a nice and clear day for my first few flights.
That's it for now, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my Monday before training continues tomorrow. I'll be back with another blog or vlog update as soon as I can.
All the best,