Week Ten: Prepping for the PPL

The PPL tests are coming up soon and a diverted 747 came to the Gold Coast. For those wondering, there are two tests required to gain your Private Pilot Licence, a theory test and a flight test. The first step is to complete the theory test that has been coming up and it looks like we will be doing it next week. The first part of the week was mostly revision, then PPL briefs over three pretty heavy days, full of back to back powerpoints and practice tests. I’m glad I read up and used the time leading up to study, because we covered a lot of content over those three days, it required a heck of a lot of concentration and focus to stay on the ball.

You have to use your time wisely. It can be easy to think the next test is forever away and spend hours watching jets take off from the hangar. I have spent plenty of time out there watching, sometimes you have to, just to rest your brain and take five, but there is always that next test in the background and it will creep up on you if you’re not prepared. Like they say, failure to prepare is preparing to fail. A few of the instructors have said this and I agree that you shouldn’t study for the test. By that I mean don’t just try and study to remember the answers, study the topic, understand it fundamentally. If you understand how and why something works or is the way it is then the questions will be easier to answer, at least for me they are because then it doesn’t matter what question you get about the topic.

Let’s use an example, Mixture. There are plenty of questions about this, about what carburettor heat does to it, what happens as you climb, descend and so on. Trying to memorise each potential question and their answers from the practice tests would be futile. Instead, learn about what mixture is and how it works, if you understand the system behind it and also what it does to the air-fuel mixture, then when posed with a question you will be able to logically find the path to the solution, such as “Well if I move the mixture lever in, which opens that hole, which releases more fuel, more fuel is richer, so the answer must be A.” After all most us will be learning this to become an employed, professional pilot. So what good is it to just to pass a test, without remembering any of it fundamentally when the knowledge could one day be needed to save the lives of your passengers, or yourself.

We all have techniques for remembering things, I often draw up diagrams and pictures during a test to help visualise the problem such as with runways, slopes and wind directions. I also pretend my hand is a plane when trying to visualise pitching, banking and axes. I don’t really care how stupid it might look or sound, it works really well for me so use whatever technique you can to give you that edge in a test.

Early in the week a Qantas 747 from Los Angeles had to divert to the Gold Coast due to heavy fog at Brisbane, it was the first time a commercial 747 flight has had to divert to the Gold Coast, causing quite a flurry on Tuesday morning. There was one previous landing back in the 80’s by Qantas as a promotional flight but I believe this is only the second time a 747 has ever touched down at Cooly, and the first with a full load of passengers and their cargo. Just watching all the jets hold above the airport was a sight, contrails everywhere, I bought a little radio from Jaycar recently to tune in to the air traffic and it was pretty chaotic, lots of jets asking to divert, some even mentioning how busy the airport was from what they could see up above, the taxiways were full and plenty was happening. A great experience really, not sure a 747 will ever go to the Gold Coast again so I’m glad I got the chance to see it. Anyway, back to the books, gotta smash this test!


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