Back to School – Week 1 at CTC!

I’ve finally made it – I am now a Cadet at CTC Aviation; in fact, I am one week in to my ATPL ground school already! The whole week has been incredibly busy, as I’ve had to settle in to my new home (for the next 6 months at least) while also spending all day at CTC.

I started on Sunday with the long drive to Southampton with all my stuff, which was a new experience in itself for quite a few reasons – big one being I had never driven anywhere near that far before! Along with that, it was also incredibly rainy and very busy for much of the route, which made driving difficult to say the least… Fortunately I made it to Southampton in one piece, and went for a curry with my parents as they wouldn’t have much chance to see me the following day after I moved in!

Monday was moving-in day, and so I headed up to CTC that morning to collect my keys and the long-awaited uniform. This was also the first time I got to meet a few of my peers who didn’t make it to Families day! Having got all of that I headed straight down to my new home (at a top-secret location…) and managed to grab the perfect room for me even though I was second-to last there! I spent the next couple of hours crudely unpacking everything with my parents, but before too long it was time to change into my new uniform and say goodbye to my parents, as we were expected back to CTC for a maths refresher that afternoon! This was mainly just to get us into the swing of working again as many people (including me) won’t have been doing any classroom learning for some time. Fortunately it was all reasonably easy and after a couple of hours it was time to head back home, where I managed to get most of my stuff neatly arranged, and set up my PC as I have to have some down time too! Another early night followed as I had to get used to 0730 wakeups to get to CTC for 0900…

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Wearing the uniform for the first time!

APD1 made up most of Tuesday, and is largely a day about giving you skills to work better in an airline environment, as well as serving as a good way to get introduced to everyone on your course! We covered things like our skills as individuals and teams, as well as how to manage the work at CTC and beyond effectively, including working out what kinds of learners we were. There was also meant to be a “Meet the Pilot” section where we could talk to a CTC graduate but unfortunately they’d been rostered to fly and were at 35,000 feet that day! As a CP we agreed to all make a trip to a local pub recommended in some advice sent to us from earlier CPs, which made for a great evening and another good chance to talk to everyone and get familiar with the people I’d be living and working with for the next year and a half!

My new house mates (well, most of them) ready for day 1!

The latter half of the week saw us thrown straight in to ground school, with two full days of Principles of Flight (PoF) to start! This is all about how an aircraft flies, and its behaviour in all different parts of flight. Lots of very complex things to learn, but I was amazed at the progress I’ve been making through it; in two days we covered roughly half of the subject, which is an 800-page textbook! I’m feeling reasonably happy with everything so far, with some more work going through my notes and plenty more practice questions I’m confident I can really get the hang of things!

Just the start of my notes from day 1 of PoF!
Just the start of my notes from day 1 of PoF!

Friday was our introduction to Mass and Balance (M&B) which is all about how an aircraft is loaded, and how that loading affects the flight characteristics. A good portion of this is calculating the location of the Centre of Gravity (CofG) and overall mass of an aircraft to ensure it is able to operate within the safe “flight envelope”. This means the subject is a fair bit more maths-y than PoF, though I think I enjoy it a little more as it feels just a little bit more practical than a lot of the PoF information we have to learn, much of which feels more relevant to test pilots and aircraft engineers than pilots!

Overall I’ve really enjoyed my first week at CTC, and am already feeling very settled in which is excellent! Among many things wearing a uniform has been a new experience, however I absolutely love it; it is a constant reminder of how far I’ve come, and that I’m finally on the road to achieving my dream! Going with that I’ve also volunteered for a careers day on January 30th, and am looking forward to paying forward some of the help I received when visiting myself (We’ve also been offered free pizza and sim rides which are totally not why I’m volunteering…)!

Outside of CTC, I’ve also been getting comfortable in Southampton; as a house we’ve already discovered the local ASDA and I spent some of my Saturday exploring the (quite small) city centre. I’m itching to get out a bit more but unfortunately British winters are never pleasant and it has been too miserable outside for me to want to go walking this weekend – Quite dissapointing as it was sunny all week while I was at CTC all day!

Hopefully I can keep up weekly updates like this now things are settling into a regular schedule. I make regular updates on Twitter too if anyone is interested, you can follow me using the sidebar!

Thanks for reading,

Jackson

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