Whether it be the Solar System; the rising and setting of the Sun or the particular details of the Earth and how to navigate it, I would say that General Navigation is one of those topics you could associate with Marmite. You'll either love it or loathe it.
In General Navigation, concepts I'd learnt from Year 9 Geography (I didn't take it at G.C.S.E) were either dis-proven or built up to a level in which non-navigators need not understand. For example, take your standard compass and in General Navigation you'll learn that it's far too inaccurate for use in Aviation. What's more is Aviation can make use of not one, but four/five different Norths. Compass North, True North, Magnetic North, Grid North & Inertial North each aligned to different parts of the planet. You could say that's confusing right?
It was safe to say, and the tutor would agree, that as we delved even deeper I and a few others had quite the puzzled looks to our faces as we tried to understand everything. Thankfully though, with in General Navigation being a two-week topic like Principles of Flight, things slowly fell into place over the weekend and into the second week.
When you first join CTC you're provided with a contraption called the CRP-5 and if you haven't seen one of these before I've used it as the featured photo of this blog post (top of the page). I think you'll agree it looks rather alien but it's essentially a navigation computer designed to help with multiple calculations. With two circular faces, lots of numbers and arrows pointing in every direction, it's the CRP-5 that tends to cause the most confusion for cadets and I certainly wasn't exempt from this. Once you know how to use it though it makes what seems like complex calculations incredibly easy. It can do so much too!
Here's a sample question:
What is the direction and velocity of the wind when:
- Track: 239° (T)
- Heading: 229° (T)
- TAS 555 Kts
- G/S 577 Kts
This list shows just how much of a mammoth topic General Navigation is. It's so much to remember!
The conclusion of General Navigation brought the teaching for Module 1 to an end and the exams ever so closer! Before we could sit them though we had to pass CTC's internal mock examinations. The mock examinations aimed to replicate the CAA environment as much as possible and were taken in the CAA approved exam room at CTC in Nursling.
Having finished General Navigation on the Friday our first mock was on Monday so I had a manic weekend trying to revise as much as I could for the mocks in the hope of passing them. Even on the day of the mocks I sat in a quiet area at CTC (as pictured) and read up on things until the last minute.
Whilst the CAA pass mark is 75%, the pass mark for CTC's internal mock is 70% as there is a general belief that in the week between the mocks and the real exams most cadets bring their scores up significantly. I was quite pleased with my mock result in Human Performance and Mass & Balance, achieving 85% in both which is great given the extra time i'd have to improve further! Where General Navigation and Principles of Flight were concerned I only just passed them which highlights just how much work still needed to be done to consolidate everything.
My real exams are on Tuesday & Wednesday next week so this four day weekend is going to spent doing nothing but trying to improve Principles of Flight and General Navigation. I'll most likely go right back to covering the basics with Principles of Flight as that's a topic that continuously builds upon itself so a missing puzzle piece early on can skew your logic. Fingers crossed my efforts will be enough and I'll write an update later in the week!
All the best,