28 May Exams Exams Exams and the UK
Alright. I have a huge smile on my face still. I went to Wellesbourne, Mountford airport. Take flight aviation has its home base here. It is here where I will take 4 theory exams for the PPL.
The goal for this trip was to take 4 theory exams + eye exam + medical exam. It took a few tries emailing flight schools who were willing to accept a student for just the exams. Eventually I found one and the instructor and examiner's name is Sat. He told me where to go and he'd pick me up from Leamington Spa train station. I flew to Stansted and took the bus to Baker street in London. From there I took the train to Leamington Spa.
I met Sat, a nice guy with a nice car. Driving to the school was quick and easy. As everyone knows, in the UK they drive on the left. So when I tried to get in on the right passenger side I saw a steering wheel, oww crap, wrong door! Anyways. Once at the school I had a quick look around and saw that the PPL license is much more common here in the UK. There were 3 flight schools there and 2 dozen airplanes. Pipers, Cessna's dual engine aircraft and even a business jet. We started right away at around noon. First exam was Human performance. It took half an hour and was pretty straight forward. The result 85% a pass!! We then continued with general aircraft knowledge. This subject required some ground school. After half an hour I felt ready for the exam. It was a big exam with 50 multiple choice question and I had 90 minutes to complete it. It was harder than the other exam. Unfortunately I cannot know which answers I answered incorrectly. But in the end it didn't really matter that much because I also passed this exam with 85% correct.
The last exam of the day was Air law. Because this is an important part of flying I took some extra ground school. We talked about UK airspace and some other details that are frequently asked in the exam. After an hour it was time for the exam. It was pretty warm in the room so after a little while the AC sprung alive and I jumped in my seat! Afterwards I was happy the exam was done and I had a pretty good feeling about the results. Sat checked it when I finished and it was a pass, again with 85% correctly answered questions. Sat suggested that since things are going so well we might be able to take an extra exam, flight planning and performance. I didn't study the subject before but he said it was a pretty straight forward exam. So I agreed that I would study the book at the hostel and get some ground instruction in the morning.
So with 3 exams passed I was very happy and I was ready to see some more of the scenery so I told Sat that I would walk the 5 km to the hostel. He didn't think that was a good idea so he drove me 3 km and I could walk the rest. He dropped me off at a side road that let to the hostel. It was a nice walk, the weather was perfect and it turned out that a lot of rich people live here. There were some huge houses which could easily feature on MTV's Cribs. Finding the hostel was easy. This would be the first time I'd stay in a hostel so I didn't really know what to expect. I checked in got the key and went up to my room. There were 3 stacked beds and one of them was already in use. I made my bed and I went on a shower hunt on my way out to the grocery store. It turns out they have Spar's in the UK to! I asked for some directions and went on a little walk trip again. Here also, some nice houses along the way. The Spar was a bit disappointing and they didn't have any real food so I just settled for some muffins and some chicken cold cuts. (Ok I guess this story gets a bit long but I hope you guys hang in there. I like to read this back in a few years and remember the details as well so it might be a bit wordy some times.) The way back was the same as the way there so it was easy ^^. I hit the shower and tried to study a bit, but that wasn't going to work. I skipped the night before so I was very tired. In 5 minutes I was asleep.
Good morning, ow damn someone new has arrived in the bed next to me and the other guy was also back. I woke up at 8 and took all my stuff with me and I headed back to the flight school. With gps on the phone it was a breeze. Sat would meet me at 11 so I had some time to spare which I could use to study for the extra exam. After turning on the main road I understand why Sat said it wasn't a good idea to walk. Wow it was a very busy road with no walkways and very dangerous turns which forced me to walk in the tall grass. My new trolley was busted up a bit and my shoes were wet. After like 5 minutes some guy in a very nice car stopped and asked if I wanted a lift. I sure wanted to live to tell the tale so I got in and off we went. We talked a little what I was doing. About one minute after I got into the car the guy got a phone call from work. I directed him to the school shook hands and off he went. Thanks Paul!
I arrived at the flight school, closed as expected, I went to the restaurant for breakfast, closed until 9 PM, not as expected. So back to the flight school where I read for about 1.5 hours. Back to the restaurant, I was pretty excited about the English breakfast because I like food as some of you know. So I ordered a breakfast. When they brought it up I was like wow that ain't no breakfast that's a complete dinner! Beans, 2 big eggs, 2 sausages and 3 pork meat thingies plus 4 slices of bread and lastly 1 disk of black pudding. I saw on discovery channel how that was made so I put that side for the birds, they might like it, tho I doubt that. It sure was tasty and filled me up for the rest of the day, so I thought!
When Sat came we did some ground school about the planning and performance part and I was ready for the test. Yay a pass again! 80%. Not bad for one day of studying! The exam was pretty easy and it incorporated some of the stuff of the previous exams so all in all 4 exams passed. 1 left to take, the hardest one, metrology! Sat had another student for a flight training so after the exam he went flying. It gave me some time to study some more for metrology and when he was back I took the exam. This one was hard as expected but in the end, another pass! 85% again. I'm pretty consistent with the scores tho. The minimum score to pass is 75% by the way.
Then it was time to hurry to Leamington Spa again for my eye examination. I was there 5 minutes before the appointment started and Sat was the taxi driver. Thanks Sat for all the classes and the taxi rides. See you later!
The eye examination was very unusual. I came in and put this piece of paper under her eyes and asked if they could fill it in. The optometrist never saw the form before so she had to read it and said "hmm… this is not a standard test its' going to cost some more time then usual. I'm like ok as long as you can do all the test I'm good. One test was for peripheral vision; the "corner of your eye" sight test machine was broken. I was like oww no damn, why does this happen to me! I got the medical exam right after this. Then she said well we'll just use the broken machine because only the button was broken. I was like ok whatever just get it done. So after a whole battery of tests where she had to gather instruments and cards from other rooms I passed and I my eyes were good enough to fly.
Then it was on to the Aeromedical Examiner. I made all appoints over the internet so I didn't really know what to expect. I got in the medical centre and asked the lady behind the desk. I got some forms and a pee tube. It was narrow and tall. That certainly wasn't thought up by someone who actually needs to use it. Anyways I went to the loo and filled it up. Hmm it was warm hehe. Then I had the ECG and that is the point where most people fail if they fail. The nurse said it all checked out and that was a big relief. I got the paper with the data and after that I was called into the doctor's office. He was a nice guy and did some tests and after an hour he printed out the medical certificate! Wohoo now it was official I'm fit to fly so the next step is to enrol into flight school and get the Visa process started. But more about that in a later blog.
Then it was time to find my couch. There is this website www.couchsurfing.org where people can sign up who have a couch to offer for visitors. Did I mention that this is free!!! I contacted the guy who I was going to stay at a few weeks before and gave me his contact details. It was very near to the med office and the train station. So I gps'ed the s*** out of the phone again and went on with my business. I rang the doorbell and Jullien opened. He's a cool guy from France who worked as a French teacher in a private school in the UK for a year. He was actually leaving back to France in 2 days so I was just in time. We talked a bit outside on the patio and he ordered pizza. Some of his housemates also came out to say hello and to eat pizza. I dunno what went wrong but in the end we had 6 large pizzas instead of 4. One of his housemates called Domino's and in the end we could keep the 2 extra pizzas and Jullien would get store credit. Jullien had to celebrate his goodbyes in Birmingham so he said that I could stay in his room and he'd stay in Birmingham (3 hour train ride) for the night. Perfect! I took a shower and hit the sack early.
The next day I got up early and sat in the garden to let all the exams that were passed sink in and for the smile to grow. All this hard work and detailed planning worked out perfectly! I managed to pass 1 extra exam, breezed through the medical exam and had met a nice guy and a free bed to stay in. To top it off there were 2.5 left over pizzas for breakfast. How good does it get I ask you. After a while Jullien came back home and it was time for me to catch the train back to London. We said goodbye and thanked him for everything he did and off I went again. This was my first couch surfing experience and I think there are going to be more of those. It's a great way to get to know the local community and it's free. The only thing that you have to do is offer a couch for visitors of your country. Because I live in a hole, no one contacted me for a couch yet.
So in London again, I arrived there around noon so I had 4 hours to spend. I bought a day travel card for the tube so I could get around quickly. I wanted to go to Buckingham palace but I ended up at the houses of parliament and Trevelga square. Not a bad mistake but nevertheless I had to find my way to the palace. Once I finally got there, there wasn't that much to see so I quickly walked through Hide Park to the subway station to find the London Bridge. I came out the station and had no clue where to go. I just walked to the water and crossed a bridge. I could see the London Bridge from there so I obviously was on the wrong bridge. I just knew; keep to the right at the end of the bridge. Turning right let me through all kinds of small streets and I think I was in the financial district because a lot of suits greeted me. I could hear them think. What's this guy with his trolley doing here?? Eventually I arrived at the London Tower so the Bridge was close by. I popped in the souvenir shop for a shot glass (I collect thos) and walked over the bridge. Right after I crossed it the alarms sounded and the bridge was lifted (that only happens 3 times a day or so). I watched it and it was pretty amazing seeing such a huge bridge lift without any afford!
Back to the same subway station where I came from. It was a rather long walk and I was tired. Once again, gps to the rescue. I got off at Baker street's subway station and 15 minutes before the bus would leave I was there. Perfect timing! The Easybus transfer is a breeze and it's about 4 euro one way which is a great rate and the little busses (15 peeps) are comfy. At the airport I found a very friendly toilet which I needed really badly! Once I was happy again I went to the gate and off to Germany again. The flight was delayed by an hour. We just stood on the apron there and did nothing. I was like, urg get out of the way!! I'll fly the plane myself! Haha ok that is still not possible but yes who knows maybe one day! My brother picked me up and he was very happy to see me …. All in all a very productive and fun trip. Time flew by and now I'm ready the visa and school enrolment procedures. I hope the story isn't to long and see you next time. That'll be when the visa appointment