Settling in – Weeks 2 & 3 at CTC

I’ve started to really settle in to ground school now, which means there hasn’t been a tonne of variety to talk about in my blog, so I’ve combined the two weeks into one post for quality’s sake!


My second week at CTC was, as previously mentioned, reasonably uneventful, with a day continuing Principles Of Flight (PoF) where we discussed control and flaps, which was surprisingly much more complex than I anticipated, although it didn’t help that I was feeling rather tired that day. We also spent a third day on Mass and Balance (M&B), and finished the whole subject – not something I was expecting on my second week! So far I’ve found that the easiest, mainly as there is so little, but also because it is highly logical and thus very easy to get my head around.

The rest of the week was taken up with General Navigation (GNav), which has so far proven to be half extremely easy (as it has a lot of skills I used in my PPL, like using flight computers and plotting courses), and half very difficult (Great circles and globe coordinates are a nightmare to get your head around, particularly convergence which is the difference between different tracks across the globe caused by its curvature!). I’m starting to get it a lot better now I’ve spent two weeks learning it though, thankfully…

Typical revision set-up!
Typical revision set-up!

Friday evening was quite interesting, we had a night out as a CP, as some people wanted to visit a pub/bar called The Hobbit… As the name may suggest, it turned out this bar was very much Lord of the Rings themed, and had a definite alternative atmosphere – Not entirely what I expected! I must say it is one of the more unusual places I’ve visited, and though most of the group left to go clubbing, I stayed behind with a few others since I much prefer a weirdly themed pub! Turned out as a pretty fun night too, watched a few games of pool and got to know some of my course mates I don’t live with a little better.

That weekend, I took it upon myself to explore a little bit more of Southampton, and get a bit of exercise done too, since I’ve been very sedentary the last few weeks as almost all of my day is spent sitting down, either working or driving to CTC. I first went for a little wander around the city centre, which was reasonably interesting though incredibly busy… I did enjoy following the old city walls for a while, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t most interested by the very low aircraft on approach to Southampton Airport!

After that, I also took a much longer walk around Southampton Common, a very large park just around the corner from my house. I felt it was quite pleasant, especially as all the mud had frozen so I could walk across the expanses of grass there, since paths were surprisingly few and far between. I felt sorry for the ducks in the large duck pond which was almost entirely frozen over, squeezing them into a shallow corner! By the end of it all I was very cold myself and pretty worn out, though glad I timed my walk so that I arrived home just before it got dark.

Pretty day in the common - spot the Trislander!
Pretty day in the common – spot the Trislander!

For the third week, I had a few more interesting events to talk about! Our first two days were both continuing on with Gnav, and really helped in getting around the trickier subjects. We’re now most of the way through Gnav too, and only have a couple more days of learning left for it too.

Following that, we had a Computer Based Training (CBT) day on Wednesday, which is basically a day where we have no teaching but are expected to revise and consolidate our knowledge. It also means we don’t have to be at CTC first thing in the morning, and I have to admit I took advantage of that to get an extra hour in bed, which did help later on as I felt much more refreshed for work. After a few hours of revising PoF, we all headed down to the events hall as it is CTC tradition to provide pizza to trainees whenever a new CP starts! They were a little late for us for some reason, but it was a good end to a slightly easier day at CTC, and was nice to see some of the other cadets who are ahead of us.

Thursday was back to PoF, fortunately talking about the more practical side of flying, discussing the physics and principles behind various phases of flight, including straight and level, climbing, descending, and asymmetric (engine failed) flight. After what felt like a very short day, I also got chance to meet with a soon-to-be A320 pilot for Monarch who was doing their type rating at CTC, and it was very nice talking flying in a much less theoretical sense!

To finish up the week we had another day of PoF, discussing the effects of flying close to, and beyond, the speed of sound. This may seem strange since it seems unlikely I’ll fly a supersonic airliner any time soon, though it turns out we still have to consider it as air flowing over wings can break the sound barrier as it speeds up, even though the aircraft itself is only at Mach 0.8, 4/5s of the speed of sound!


Saturday had work put to the back of my mind as I arranged to meet an old school friend who also happened to be at University in Southampton. After a quick visit to an extremely good ice cream and crepe café near the university, we headed over to their accommodation and I was introduced to some of the characters she lives with, which was pretty interesting as I chose not to go to uni and thus had no idea what to expect! Honestly I’m glad I didn’t as the atmosphere wasn’t really one I think I could live in, with so many people sharing one building! I feel incredibly grateful for how good CTC’s accommodation is after that, we get far more space for far fewer people, it has to be said! However, all in all it was great catching up and I was amazed at how much time flew by, it was a good afternoon overall.

Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home

Finally, Sunday was very much dedicated to work to make up for not doing any the day before, and so I got up reasonably early and headed over to a very quiet CTC to do a couple of hours revision. After a couple of hours I realised I had a few errands to do back at home, so I ended up doing housework and shopping for much of the early afternoon! At about 17:00 I headed back to CTC for another few hours of revision as I wanted to really solidify my knowledge of things I’d learned a few weeks ago! I also knew there was a possibility I would get to backseat in a sim while someone got their type rating if I was there long enough… Unfortunately I didn’t quite get that opportunity in the end, but it served as a good motivator and I got plenty of work done, far beyond what I had hoped in fact! I think there are going to be a fair few more evening sessions as it worked really well for me.

I will get into one of these eventually!
I will get into one of these eventually!

And that just about sums up the last two weeks! I do feel bad for going back on my “one post a week” promise immediately, but I feel I’ve really got a better post for it. Not sure how it’ll work out from now, but I do know there will be plenty going on in the next few weeks so stay tuned! This coming week alone I will be starting Human Performance (HPL), (hopefully) finishing Gnav, cooking a non-frozen meal for myself (yes, really!) and finally attending an open day as a cadet, which I’m really looking forward to! If any readers are visiting on the 30th, I hope I’ll get a chance to see you!


In the meantime though, have a great week and thanks for reading!


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