After almost a year of procrastination, I finally worked up the courage to sit the Private Pilot Licence (PPL), theory test. Before we get into the test however, I’ll back up a little and fill you in on where I’ve been for the last year while MIA from this blog.
As you’ll note from the post below, the last flight I took was on the 24th December 2012. This was the day I took my dad flying around the bay. After said flight, I should have sat the PPL theory test, completed a couple of laps of the circuit in the C172 and then started navigation flights to complete my PPL. So how did this all fall apart, well, like most accidents in aviation, it wasn’t the result of one incident in isolation, rather the product of many smaller occurrences which resulted in me losing a year of my journey.
It all started with me having a great idea to quit my secure, well-paying government job to chase one that I would actually enjoy, something more aligned with my future aspirations. A job with Virgin Australia. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of working with the airline, the people are great, the conditions are excellent and nothing beats marshalling a B737 at night. Loved it! The only downfall, however, as is the case with most aviation jobs, there’s no job security and the pay is dismal to say the least. Not that anyone can duly complain however, as it is something that you are very much aware of when entering the industry. It’s just not ideal to be in that situation when you are trying to fund flying training and want to live on more than MI Goring and Spam.
Whilst I did give it a good go (around 9 months), I decided to swallow my pride and head back to a contact centre job to try and build back the savings I lost working at Virgin. Not once did I give up on my dream of flying or lose motivation though. From the onset, I decided to give myself a year to raise enough funds to finance my PPL (approx. $11.000), get a few expensive events out of the way and study for my PPL theory test.
10 months on from the last time I stepped foot in Gil Layt’s flying school and my finances were looking good and I’m engaged to the beautiful Katie. It’s now October 2013. The one thing I was still missing was confidence in my knowledge for the PPL theory test. Even though in that time, I had read the Aviation Theory Centre books cover to cover and completed the Online Aviation Theory course. I just didn’t feel comfortable.
I decided to make a phone call to my old flying school for some advice. A familiar voice answered and after a brief conversation with my instructor Robert, I was inspired to get my theory up to scratch and the test done. From that time on, each Sunday, I would attend Gil Layt’s Flying School and annoy Robert with as many questions as I could come up with. A million practice exams later and I decided to bite the bullet and book in for my test.
It’s now the present day.
Walking into Gil Layt’s I felt like a condemned man, the nerves were unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I felt confident in my knowledge though not in my ability to pass the test. I nervously made conversation with the friendly Fab (another instructor at Gill Layt’s), while Gil set up the CASA exam on the flying school computer.
After setting up my mountains of gear (ERSA, AIP, CAR, CAO etc etc) and attending the bathroom for the trillionth time that morning, I nervously sat down and hovered the curser over the exam start button. I knew full well that once pressed, the timer would begin counting and my fate would be decided in 3 hours and 30 minutes. Until this day, I’d never been so nervous that I felt the need to give myself a pep talk, anyone overhearing this must have thought I was nuts.
I had it all planned out, I would go through the whole exam once answering only those questions that I was 100% sure of without using too many resources or chewing up too much time. I would then concentrate on the questions that had a higher weighting and then go back and fill in the gaps using what time I had left. I pressed the button and off I went. The first 5 questions went something like this; next, next, next, next, next. Crap!
After finally hitting a series of questions I felt ok about, my nerves calmed a little and I got into my groove. I finished all of the questions with heaps of time to spare and spent the rest of the time going over each question, one by one, ensuring I checked every detail of each question carefully. I kept checking questions until there was 3 minutes left on the clock. At that stage, I realised I’d arrived at the point of no return, at this point, there was nothing further I could do to influence the outcome. My fate had already been decided. I took a deep breath and pressed the ‘end test’ button. As the result loaded, the nerves returned and my heart jumped up into my throat. It felt like I’d waited an eternity before the screen popped up advising me that I had passed. The joy I felt was indescribable.