One of the biggest steps you have to go through before starting at CTC is getting a class 1 medical from the CAA. The good news is I’ve already been cleared as being fit to fly! I haven’t seen many other bloggers talk about the process much, so I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my experiences…
I arrived at Gatwick extremely early, so I spent about 30 minutes plane spotting from the top of Gatwick’s South Terminal’s car park. Not that great since the sun was right in my eyes, but I did get to see a Thomson 787!
After that, it was time to go find the CAA’s Gatwick offices. Their instructions for public transport aren’t the most helpful, but I eventually found the bus stop after asking an Easyjet pilot passing by! Turns out you go down a lift hidden in a dark corner of arrivals, then through a dark underpass to get to the buses…
Once on the bus (I think most buses stopping at the South Terminal go to the CAA), it was only a short trip to the next bus stop for the CAA! Actually, you get dropped off a slight walk away, but if you’re a fan of aviation history and art deco, I would really recommend crossing the road at the bus stop and walking past the beehive, which is Gatwick’s original airport terminal and the first of its kind! I was very surprised at how small it was for such a thing, but I guess when the biggest plane around only carries 8 or so passengers it would have been plenty. The CAA office is just round the corner, less than a 2 minute walk; you can see it from the Beehive!
Once you get to the CAA and taken through to the waiting area, you’ll do exactly that – wait! Bring a good book or an iPad for entertainment, you’ll need it through the day… Eventually someone will bring you through to the surgery (for more waiting).
Most of the tests are very clearly laid out on the CAA website, and for the most part are pretty easy! I was glad to find the blood test is only a tiny pinprick not a full needle, as I’m terrified of that stuff! The ECG was also very easy, as I always imagined the whole jogging on a treadmill kind of setup! One other thing, get comfortable for some of the eye tests – they take far, far longer than you may expect!
After all the tests you’re taken to a final physical check-up with the CAA AME, with some amazingly old-school “tap a hammer” reaction tests! If all has gone well, as it did for me, the AME will sign your certificate and you’ll be all clear! If not, your results will probably be sent for further analysis, but often you’ll get sent your certificate later after all things are verified – I know one other person in my class who had to wait a little, thankfully he was all clear within a few weeks though!
After being given the all clear, it is time to head home! You could just get the return bus if using public transport, but I spotted some cyclists and a couple of airline crew walk into what seems like a lorry car park just opposite the bus stop. Turns out there’s actually a path that runs all the way back to the terminal, with an added bonus – the place is an excellent spotting location! I ended up staying there for about 30 minutes, as you’re right by the approach lights and get a great view – Actually very similar to Myrtle Avenue (which I went to the next day and may have to be an extra post…)
If you keep following the path you’ll eventually get to an unmarked door in the terminal, go up the stairs and you get to the main arrivals area. After that it was an hour-long train journey into the middle of London, where I was to spend the night – The view from my room was utterly incredible, just a short walk from St. Paul’s!
One final note – If you or someone you know is starting at CTC in January 2016 as part of CP141, please let me know! I’d love to get in contact with as many people as possible before starting my course, as its always nice to know people. Send me a tweet or use the contact form on this site to get in touch, and I’ll add you to the Facebook chat we have for CP141.