About me

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to fly a plane. When I was young, my family would take me to Bristol (and sometimes Heathrow) for a day of plane-spotting. I’d gaze mesmerisingly at the planes landing & taking-off and dream that one day it would be me sitting in the front seat.

Up until I was 13, I planned to finish education and start a career in aviation, aiming to fly commercial airliners. Then, sadly, my eyesight deteriorated from perfect 20/20 to barely being able to see more than a couple of feet in front of me without glasses. Someone told me I didn’t stand a chance of getting a job as a pilot because they don’t recruit anyone who needs glasses. I resigned myself to never being able to fly.

As it turned out, I’ve been incredibly lucky to enjoy a very successful career working within digital marketing (“making websites” if you’re wondering what that means!). After 12 years of full time employment, I became freelance (setting up my own company) in March 2013 and am now my own boss.

The Civil Aviation Authority do now allow you to be a pilot even if you wear glasses and contact lenses (so long as your prescription is within certain limits). So, in June 2013 I booked my first trial flight lesson. I was hooked, and promptly signed up for training to obtain my Private Pilots Licence (PPL).  I live in Monmouthshire, a county in Wales, in the United Kingdom and am learnt to fly with Aeros at Gloucestershire Airport

After around 12 months of training, I had passed all my exams and my final flight test. In September 2014, I received my PPL Licence and had fulfilled my dream of becoming a pilot!

This blog chronicles my training journey…

15 thoughts on “About me

  1. Hi
    I just want to say how helpful this website has been to me in terms of providing an overall picture of the build up to the skills test. Im currently revising for my skills test having completed all groundexams/ QXC etc. I was wondering if you could provide me with any pointers on what sort of oral questions you were asked by the examiner on the day of the skills test? I’ve revised all the technical aspects of the plane I fly (PA28-140) using mainly revision guides and POH/FM, but it would be helpful to get some feeback from someome thats already been through the experience.
    Once again, great website.
    David

    1. Hi David. So sorry for the late reply, I missed the comment notification somehow.
      To answer your question, whilst doing the A-check, the examiner pointed to various bits of the aircraft and asked me what they were called, what they do etc. To be honest, I was absolutely hopeless at answering the questions as it had been such a long time since I did Aircraft General Knowledge, and I’m not a mechanically-minded kind of person. Luckily that didn’t stop me from passing my test though. At the end of the day, the examiner wants you to pass – it’s human nature – and will be friendly and do whatever they can to nudge you along in the right direction. I’m sure you’ll be fine! Although judging by how long ago you asked the question, you’ve probably got your PPL by now! Let me know how you get/got on.
      Cheers,
      Nic

  2. Dear Nic
    Five months ago I set myself a task to get a PPL before Easter. I started flying at Wycombe Airpark. Despite some pretty nasty weather resulting in many non flying days, I managed to get the hours in, pass all the exams, RT Test, QXC and finally yesterday my GFT which I passed just in time for Easter.
    I wanted to say a huge thank to you….. your blog was invaluable to me along the way and especially for revision this week
    Thank you so much for your help!
    Bill

    1. Huge congratulations to you, Bill! What an achievement. Five months is an incredibly quick timeframe. Enjoy your newly earned wings, and I wish you many hours of happy flying! If you’re ever heading to Gloucester or Kemble, let me know!

  3. Hi, I too live in Monouthshire – Abergavenny. I stumbled upon your blog and found it to be extremely usefull.
    I did some rotary flying a few years ago, and recently did an hours trial flight with Gower flight school…Im now hooked all over again !! and planning on undegoing ppl(A) in the new year, so sites like these are excellent preparation.
    Many thanks for posting your account of flight training.

    Vince

    1. Great stuff, glad you found the site useful.

      Best of luck with your training. Once you start, you simply can’t stop. Be warned! Happy flying!

  4. Hi Nic….reading your account of various flights and watching the videos is a massive help. Im just about to start ppl , and this blog give a fantastic insight.
    Its worth anyone reading this along side the books.

    Good luck with all future flying….maybe see round sometime 🙂

  5. Hello Nic,

    I have been reading a few of your blogs: I like your method of continual learning; I try to do the same with a list of “lessons (re-learnt)” after each flight with or without instructor. Frightening how one can sometimes forget or mess up something that should be “automatic”, but no two flights are ever the same.

    I will be taking my pre-test flight in a couple of weeks and practical test a fortnight after (all being well).

    I fly in France and “in French” but would be really interested to compare a couple of things with you for example: we have something that we call PTU, PTL, and PTE with reduced motor that I have always struggled with that I can’t find on the English EASA programme:
    PTU stands for Regaining Ground in a U;
    PTL stands for Regaining Ground in an L, and
    PTE stands for Regaining Ground in a framework….
    all methods use what we call 2AP (2x glide path angle).

    Does any of this relate to a specific part of your training?

    Obviously all these techniques are used to improve one’s skill in an emergency landing but are practiced on the home aerodrome with an instructor, and all result in a physical landing when successful, or a go around when not.

    1. Hi Peter… I am not familiar with those PTX terms. Could you describe the procedure in a bit more detail, and I will see if they are called something else in the English training.

      Good luck with your test by the way. Enjoy it, relax, and you’ll be fine!

      1. I will let you know in ten days Nic, but enjoyable wasn’t the experience I really had in mind…

        In the meantime by reading through some of your lessons I think that you use the term PFL for an “encadrement” (or PTE), where with engine at idle, we keep a point on the level wing in line with the centre line of the runway or chosen landing field and then converge at 30° until 45° to touch down aiming point at which point steep turn onto short final.

        Cheers,
        Peter

  6. Hello Nic,

    Well after what seems like the longest training in Anglo-French aviation history (I took my first lesson in Shoreham in July 1980!), I managed to bag it first time, although I wasn’t expecting so much “interaction” with the examiner…

    For the nav I wanted to fly at 3500 feet; he wanted me to fly at FL75 due west into the sun (I couldn’t see a thing and had to keep pitching down to try and pick out land marks). With the re-routement I wanted to pass by a point that I was familiar with, he wanted me to go direct potentially through a prohibited zone, oh là là..

    Then for the practical, the examiner thought my stalls were too tame and put my little PA38 into a really (honestly quite frightening stall) that I had to recover from whilst in a state of semi shock (he said that is what it is like in real life); I was also a bit surprised by his emergency landing request when at only 2000 feet without warning: I really had to think and react fast, again he said that that was real life stuff…. (I would call it Sully stuff).

    There was 15kt gusting cross winds (the limit for the PA38); and I was given the choice to do the test or re-book for another day: I chose to go ahead, as I am comfortable flying in winds and changing runways, but I was wasn’t expecting to finish the test with an emergency no power landing in Cannes with the full cross wind, and by this time it was night time… very pretty, but high stress (even my instructor said, that experienced pilots often cock up this manoeuvre)… Was it the “hand of God”? It must have been one of the most precise landings that I have ever achieved, bang on the numbers, and those magic words: well done you have passed: How big can a grin get?

    Wise words from both examiner and instructor: now the apprenticeship starts!

  7. PS my next challenge will be the FCL.055; I guess that they don’t make you do that in England..

    And keep up the blog… I would love to follow your trips with your wife 😉

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