First trip to Gatwick…

First of all, an apology! It’s been some time since my last post due to a busy few months of study! 

Alongside my degree studies, I have been building hours and working towards my first ATPL module of exams. I booked my exams back in February and have just returned from Gatwick last night. I opted to sit them at Gatwick upon the recommendation of a friend, this alongside being surrounded by Aviation, made it seem like the best option! It is a shame however, that most exam venues are down south. It’s alike the initial class one medical scenario, the CAA really should focus on setting up a venue for exams and initial medicals in somewhere like Leeds or Manchester. Anyhow, I stayed a 25 minute walk from the CAA at the Premier Inn Manor Royal. This hotel is located in and amongst various Aviation companies including Virgin Atlantic’s HQ and ‘The Base’. I was lucky enough to be able to see aircraft arriving and departing from my room with the help of my scanner to hear radio transmissions. This definitely made the stay more bearable!

I had booked to sit General Navigation on the Monday, Meteorology on the Tuesday, Human Performance & Limitations on Wednesday and finally, Instruments on Thursday. About two weeks before the exams, worrying my weak subjects, both Met & Gen Nav, I decided to cancel Gen Nav and move it back. This allowed me more time to sort out Meteorology. The last week before exams really involved blasting through the remaining question bank questions and focusing on the recent exam feedback. I cannot explain how helpful the feedback on both ATPForum and Facebook ATPL Theory Students group were in prepare for what was to come on the exams. I therefore provided my own feedback to help others!

One of the things I was most intrigued about before even arriving at Gatwick was what the CAA would be like and how they would go about exams. I can’t describe how odd it was being at the home of the UK aviation regulator, sat under their roof amongst those making decisions about airspace, aircrew and regulations. Aviation House is a very impressive building, visitors like myself are processed by security at the main desk, given a visitor badge and sent through to the very impressive Atrium, where there are plenty of seats and coffee shop to sit and get some last minute revision! The two invigilators, Ronda and Jill were the most friendly invigilators I have ever met. It’s a shame they aren’t like this at University! The process from start to finish was extremely smooth and efficient which made it much easier to settle into the exam and do my best!

Meteorology was a very difficult exam, there were plenty of new questions, I struggled with various ones where two answers seemed extremely viable, this was the case across all three exams I sat. Human Performance & Limitations was the most challenging, it was very different to the question bank and had the dreaded new scenarios. These scenarios were very ambiguous whilst the answers were extremely subjective. I didn’t hesitate to leave a comment for the CAA to tell them what I thought. Instruments was an absolute dream of an exam, I do believe I got very lucky as nearly all questions were from the question bank or slightly re-worded except a few new ones. The Quadrant system is very easy to use and makes it very clear and easy to return to questions unanswered or flagged. I only got one quadrant question across all three exams, this was on Instrumentation and involved ticking five of six options with regards to what a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) is able to record.

I literally received my results this morning whilst at work. Prior to receiving them I was extremely nervous, I don’t think I have shaken so much in my life. I really couldn’t gauge how I had done in the exams. Thankfully, after great trepidation, I received my results, one after the other, passing all free. The relief is unreal, three down eleven to go! Here I go!

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