The question you ask is "How are you finding it?" and the sole word they use to reply is "Intense". If you're wondering what i'm describing here then it's the typical open day conversation between an aspiring pilot and current cadets when discussing ground school. Now that i'm here I can totally appreciate what they were talking about!
Over the past two weeks my CP and I have been climbing the Principles of Flight (PoF) mountain in order to give us a solid understanding of what exactly flight is and how it's physically possible in the first place. Being taught by two knowledgeable instructors in the field, both with quite unique teaching styles, we slowly but surely got through the 800+ pages of the textbook covering everything from Lift all the way through to Supersonic flight (full list at the bottom). Yep, that's right.. 800+ pages. Thankfully though, pilots' don't need to understand PoF to the same level as an engineering graduate but nevertheless the learning curve is somewhat steep for someone with no prior background.
Retaining such a large volume of information is harder than I'd have expected it to be and if I'm being honest I put most of this down to me being quite a visual / hands-on learner. I would much sooner prefer wandering around a small aircraft in order to see its' control surfaces than read about them in a book, but I fully appreciate it's not that practical to do so. To my relief though I have finally found, after seeing another cadet do it, that making mind maps, flash cards, and random post-it notes is the most effective way for me to consolidate everything. I'd also like to thank my parents for their very kind contribution to a large whiteboard will help me significantly as I progress through ground school.
This list shows you just what we cover in Principles of Flight:
It's important to take some time out...
Whilst you don't realise it at the time, laughing and enjoying yourself every now and then is key to keeping motivation levels high and what a film to do just that than Sausage Party. If you haven't watched yet I'd highly recommend it as it's a great laugh. On another occasion a few Southampton based CPs got together to say bye to a couple of cadets as they progress from CTC to their airlines and/or move to the Coventry school. This was a great opportunity to not only put names to faces but also gather tips on the best way to tackle studying.
Having spent 8 full days looking at PoF it was nice to give our minds a break as we re-visited Human Performance & Limitations (HPL). Our final day of HPL teaching saw us learn about the Physiological aspects that affect us in the cockpit and we discussed everything from cockpit ergonomics to automation, management style, human error, stress and our natural response to it (fight or flight). Perhaps most interesting of it all though was looking at the perfect personalities of airline pilots as in knowing them you could look around the room and immediately identify why each and every one of us was sat there in the first place.
With HPL now done our instructor managed to secure all of us some fixed-base simulator time on the Boeing 737-700 (as pictured) during it's down time on Saturday. The aim of the session was to highlight just how the body reacts to stressors as mentioned above and I was placed with my coursemate Matt. Starting at 9am on Saturday we experienced engine fires, cross winds, stalls, total engine losses on approach and more. Flying an airliner certainly isn't as easy as it looks but I'll tell you what, parts of PoF I was struggling to grasp simply clicked when applied to the aircraft environment.
It's only when you're put in situations like we were that you truly understand why two pilots exist as there's certainly no way that an individual would be able to bring down a faulty aircraft without the support of a monitoring pilot adjusting throttles, setting flaps and completing whatever else needs to be done. At least not without any loss of life in the process. Keeping an aircraft straight and level with no engines when mother nature wants to do the complete opposite is very tiring.
All in all despite the sheer size of PoF, today's simulator session created a buzz in nearly everyone on the course and it's certainly brought motivation levels up a notch or two. Next week we turn our attention to another big topic: General Navigation. It's another two week one so I'll post the next update as soon as I can. It's scary how fast time is going as in less than a month I will be sitting my first CAA exams.. eek.
Thanks again for reading,