THE PPL GROUND SCHOOL
So at very long last you have decided that you want to learn to fly…but then you are told that all the ground school exams must be passed before you can obtain your very own Private Pilots Licence. SCHOOL! GROUND SCHOOL!! EXAMS!!! Well in those great immortal words of Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army – “DON’T PANIC!”
There are in fact 7 ground school exams required for the JAR PPL that you must study for and pass. Then there is a final practical flying test commonly referred to as the GFT (General Flying Test) that you take, which marks the end of your PPL training.
These exams are not as daunting as they first appear. In fact it is often said that anyone who can pass a driving test should have nothing to fear. Having said that, there is some hard work to put in and there are a number of fairly in depth subjects to get to understand, most of which are likely to be somewhat new to you.
I have known of students from as young as 14 to 70 years embark on the PPL training and even heard of students that left school with little or no qualifications whatsoever at all and all have passed and gone on to become good pilots.
It is worth noting that there are a number of ways in which you can study for your private pilots licence ground school exams. Also a side note that should you pass the JAR PPL exams and go on to obtain an NPPL licence, then the JAR PPL exams would still remain valid for you and you could opt to upgrade your licence at a later date.
When it comes to going the self study route, you will likely find that there are numerous books and study material on all of the various ground school subjects. These include the very popular ‘Air Pilot’s Manual Series’ by Trevor Thom; the ‘AFE PPL Course Series’ by Jeremy Pratt and the ‘Skills For Pilots Ground Training Series’ that is published by Oxford Aviation Training.
Each one of these covers all you need to know to pass your ground school exams and get a really good and firm understanding of the subject material. Although they are slightly different in the way that they present the information to the reader, you really cannot go wrong with any of them. However I would advise you to try to have a look at them before you make a purchase and see which you prefer. There are plenty of events or shops such as AFE or Transair, where you can generally go and have a look before you buy. Equally you may find that your instructor has a copy and/or preferred set, which you could peruse.
If the thought of reading all of this information from text books fills you with terror or at least little excitement, you can always consider the various DVD or CD-Roms available from companies like Oxford Aviation Training, who have their Academy series that covers all aspects of the PPL syllabus and beyond.
Intensive Ground School Course.
An alternative to the self study, self paced route is that of an intensive ground school course. These can be either day schools or even intensive residential courses. Often times students are lured away to the sunnier climates of say Florida, where they can incorporate ground school study with almost endless hours of flyable weather. This is really an option for those who want to study and pass the PPL in as short a time as possible. Perhaps you have a desire to go further and embark on a flying career and do an ATPL or CPL.
Equally some student pilots opt for an intensive ground school training course in their own country in order to get the theory out of the way and then undertake an intensive practical course in somewhere like Florida for example.
Lastly many flying schools have a instructors or an instructor that will likely run regular evening classes to cover the ground school exam subjects. This can be a great way of studying with other students, making friends and sharing a common goal.
There Are Some Deadlines
Yes unfortunately there are some deadlines to be considered. You cannot take an eternity to obtain your licence. Well I suppose you could if you keep having to re-sit you exams and this is the very point I am about to make.
When it comes to taking the written PPL exams, there are 7 to be completed before you can obtain that illustrious PPL Licence. Once you have passed the first of these exams, the clock starts ticking and you have 18 months in which you must pass all of the remaining written exams.
I, unfortunately was caught by this rule myself. Flying in the UK can be frustrating at the best of times due to our wonderful weather and where I fly in the North West of England, we can often have all 4 seasons in 1 day, albeit the seasons are much less seasonal these days thanks to global warming (or cooling). Anyway I ended up having to take Air Law again, just after completing my last exam, which I believe was Navigation.
So if the 18 month deadline goes by and you have not passed all the exams, the oldest exam or the first one you took will have to be retaken. Equally you may have to retake more than one if there is 18 months between them. So be warned.
Finally once you have passed all the exams, you have a further 24 months to have your licence issued, otherwise you will have to re-sit all the exams again.
You may ask why anyone would wait 24 months to apply for their licence after having gone through all that study. Well believe you me, it does happen for a number of reasons. Those who embark on intensive ground school courses, may find that they take much longer than anticipated to adapt to the practical aspects of flying and time flies when you’re having fun as the saying goes.
All of the PPL exams are multiple choice and require a 75% pass mark. The only exceptions to this being the radio practical and the GFT (General Flying Test) which are either a pass or fail. PPL exam Pro has been developed to help student pilots gain an unfair advantage in the written exams, go and take a look for yourself.