Becoming a Private Pilot is not all just fun and flying with your head in the clouds. It is also about learning, observing and thinking ahead. It is those 4 things that are a big focus for me right now, study time! If I am to be completely honest, its not through choice that they are my single focus right now.
The reason why they are a priority, is because the fun and flying has been significantly restricted of late due to weather and the Commonwealth Heads of Governance Meeting (CHOGM) held in Perth a few weeks back. At the moment I’m up to Navigation Flight #4 (controlled airspace and Perth missed approach) which will be promptly followed by Navigation Flight #5 (controlled airspace solo). These two flights have been cancelled week after week. Damn those Cumulonimbus clouds!
Actually during CHOGM, the kids and I stopped in at Jandakot to pickup a new VTC. However, everything was pretty much closed down, other than the sweet looking police chopper swooping in. Given that damn chopper pretty much had been buzzing overhead 24 x 7 driving everybody I know nuts, we thought it was worth a look. We drove up and caught sight of the aircraft as it was just powering down its turbines. Once everything came to rest, the flight crew got out. I’m sure in paranoia mode, one of the flight crew wandered over to the fence and asked, “Um is there anything I can help you with?”. Just looking, saw you come in. Turns out he was a top bloke. He asked the kids if they wanted some stickers and promptly delivered a colouring in pack and stickers to two smiling young faces. Minutes later, their dad had talked their way in for a closer look We got a quick look before the crew had to turn the chopper around and head back to keep an eye on things.
Anyway back on topic, lets go over those few earlier points again, learning, observing and thinking ahead…
The day I passed my GFPT written test, I bought the Bob Tait “Private Pilot License” VFR [Day] Study Guide. Accompanied by the Aviation Theory Centre Navigation book and a set of practice exams. Sweet, all set!
Well the books had a little time to gather dust as I set my sights on my GFPT flying test and the subsequent joy flights with passengers 🙂 Then it was onto Nav training. All the while my books gathered more dust. It wasn’t till after swapping to JFC that it finally occurred to me, get studying! Since however, it seems my workload has doubled and there are another 10 balls in the air! I’m well known for not taking on a mountain and keeping it simple, not!
Well the study is in full swing now, when I can fit it in at least. It is practically every other day putting a few hours into reading a topic, then reading it again and doing the exercises. Apart from Air Law, the topic that has bored my silly is meteorology. For some reason I struggled to get into it. As a result, its retention in my little brain has been on the lacking side of things. It’s now been 4 times through the chapters covering it!
The penny dropped about a week ago. I was down at Hourglass park in Rockingham watching the planes buzz overhead. My focus should have been a little more on the little hard white ball which the opposition were attempting to hit my way. Luckily our pitcher (baseball) was on the money and not too many balls were being hit. It gave me time to notice the wind direction, the broken Cumulus clouds, some towering and changing right in from of me. Beyond them, there were Alto Stratus looking blocking out most the remaining blue.
Lets just say it got me thinking. Back in the dug out, I pulled out my iPhone, fired up the “Oz Weather” and went straight for the synoptic chart. There it was, the low pressure system! The NAIPS app confirmed the higher level winds were perfectly aligned with isogonals, with the ground level winds about 2/3’s slowed and veered (to the right). I had an “ah ha” moment…
Wow, I guess I must have taken some of this weather thing in 🙂 I enjoyed the moment, and believe me it was only a moment. “Oy! Brett, your turn to bat, hurry up!”…
He has since been heard explaining the cloud types, expected conditions and “oh, thats Verga”, blah blah blah… You get the story!
The point I’m trying to make, find a way to relate those boring things you don’t quite think you ever wanted to know and find a way to apply it and make it practical. In the case of meteorology for me, it was about Observing, observing the weather…
This is the most important point! Start studying for your PPL exam the day you complete your GFPT, in fact start earlier. I have left it way too late! That is most evident in the subject areas which I don’t naturally have an interest. For me it was meteorology! It didn’t capture my interest.
The bad weather and CHOGM have been a god send from one perspective. It has given me more time to study. The reality is that once the next two navs are done and the one after, it is PPL flying test time! The theory test has to be done first.
At this time of your PPL adventure, you should be 100% focused on applying your developing navigation skills. Trust me you don’t need the distraction of theory going on at the same time!i
I had the same aha moment with met, my girlfriend is now sick of me talking about weather, clouds and fronts etc! I love it though, uni helped with the study side of things. Understanding and knowing are two different things! 🙂 good luck with the CASA exam, my advice, show up really early and do everything it says on the confirmation sheet!
As always, a great read my friend. Good luck with the study. I know what you mean regarding Met. Non flyers just don’t get it. On a recent flight Perth to Sydney, i found myself taking many photos of the most breathtaking CB towers. When I show people the photos, the common response is, “Why?”
I did fly on the Friday of the CHOGM weekend. Must say, I found the whole thing a bit of an anti-climax. YPJT to Rotto, up and down the coast, no problem. Probably helped being anti-climactic by failing to listen to the advice of a military pilot friend who suggested (in jest), “As you pass the CBD, build up speed descending, and turn your transponder off. Have the video camera ready after that…” Seemed like a little too much excitment may happen if I were to have adopted that suggestion.
Good luck with the studies.