I've been talking allot about my flights in this blog, but haven't mentioned ground school much. I actually started ground school before I began flying. I think it's better this way. I quickly discovered, however, many classmates had already begun flying, some had even soloed! Whoa!
In any case, flight school was going to last about 26 weeks, meeting twice a week for 2.5 hours. At the beginning I didn't think it was going to be a big deal for me...after all compared to electronics engineering, how hard can flight school be. Ah yet another humbling experience for me.
Flight school didn't just go over the theory of flight & airplane systems, it got heavy into wheather, communications, pilotage, equipment, medical, and FAA requirements. It was ALLOT of information to assimulate. I never knew I'd have to learn so much about the wheather... By the time your done, I wouldn't be surprised if you could replace the local news wheatherman!
Bottom line, flight school was intense, and certainly not easy. Especially if your like me, and insist on understanding everything (and not just knowing what the answers are). For every hour I spent in class, I spent 2-3 hours studying on my own. The Jeppessen book was at my side most nights.
Why are you considered a "Brain" when you know stuff?
I'd like to think I'm of normal intelligence, with a decent understanding of physics and engineering. Certainly not a brainiac though. For me, I always had to work hard learning stuff, because it never came easy for me. Thus I poor myself into the subject, especially when I'm super motivated! Due to this, I was actually a chapter ahead in class, and the students noticed I seemed to "know" the material well. They immediately labeling me the "brain" of the class, and from then on out, I couldn't shake it.
I can't stand being labeled like that. If they'd just study, they'd know it too. Now, I'd seem to be "expected" to have all the right answers....additional pressure I didn't need. At least it had one benefit, the instructors relied on me to help the class during exercises, flight planning, etc.. They didn't drill or pick on me much. I still had difficulty in areas, especially wheather, medical stuff, etc....but it didn't change my label.
By the time the class reached time to review, I had already been taking practice tests online. http://www.4vfr.com/ Is a GREAT place to begin btw. Also I checked out and purchased the software from www.checkride.com, and found it helpfull as well. If you can make consistent 90% or better, chances are you'll pass the FAA Airman Knowledge Test.
Time for the BIG TEST!
About the time I had my 9th flight, I brought in two test prep exam scores and Rob kindly signed me off to take the exam. I called up the CATS center to schedule it. They could fit me in on that Friday, and I paid my 80$ (BTW, it's NORMALLY 90$, but if you join AOPA, you get a 10$ discount! Check them out www.aopa.com ). I studied and reviewed my butt off for the next few days. The last night of ground school was thursday, and I let them know I'd be taking the test the next day.
Friday came and I drove the 35mile trek to Kinston. (It took me 11 min by air, and a ever so slow feeling to drive it in 30min!) It was a wet and miserable day...perfect for taking a test! lol The auditor shows me to a room with a few PCs and cameras in the wall. I grab my flight computer (the paper version), and my protractor, and sit down. She explains the test system for me, and gives me a figure book, paper, pencils, marker and a clear sheet. "Don't write in the figure book, use the overlay sheet". Oh great...so now I have to worry about a little overlay moving on me while making trip calculations!
The test began smoothly, but my hope for a minimum of lengthy trip planning quickly dissappeared. I had to do three in all, with 1-2 questions on each. It wasn't hard, just time consuming.
About 55min later, I finished my first pass-through of the test. There were a few I wasn't at all sure on, so I went back... One was an moveable card ADF question, and I so dislike those. In the end I went with my first answer (after all your first intuition is usually correct). I hovered the mouse over the "COMPLETE" confirmation button. My goal was to be in the 90% range, but I didn't feel I succeded at doing so. The screen completed, and it told me I.... PASSED! Woot! It tell me HOW WELL I did though.
For that she came in, and said congratulations, you got a 97% and missed two questions! OMG, my jaw dropped... I would've swore I got an 80 something! YES, one major hurdle down...next up, time to work toward soloing!!!!!