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Stuff I read while learning PPL

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Stuff I read while learning PPL

Old 17th Nov 2010, 20:26
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Wiltshire, UK
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Stuff I read while learning PPL

I've just passed my PPL Skills Test (yippee) and while I wait for the little brown deposit through my letter box (UK PPL Licenses are apparently delivered in a dark brown folder), I thought I'd make a list of some reading material that motivated and educated me during the course. This is in addition to the standard PPL course material (I used the Trevor Thom books which were enough on their own for self-study).

Several people have documented their PPL training in great detail as blogs or eBooks, which gives some insight into the frustration of circuits, aspects of the different parts of the course and that everyone really does get the same syllabus.

These might not be to everyones taste, but it takes courage to publish the “warts and all” events of learning to fly and nobody is forced to read them, although many do.

Those I read included (in no particular order)
  • Leia Fee, who learnt on a tight budget within the 45 hour minimum
  • Andy Hawkins, who learnt at Brize and has now also done IMC
  • Michael, who kick-started his training in Spain but learnt near Oxford
  • Stevelup, how learnt at Gloucester and now owns a share at Oaksey Park
I also read a
published book published book
about Phil Stone, a management consultant from Newcastle who learnt from scratch in 3 weeks in Florida. This certainly put me off this option (taking 3 weeks out isn’t really feasible for me anyway). The pressure on candidates taking this path is really very strong, despite it being a hobby, and I suspect there is still some learning about UK environment required.

There are several podcasts on iTunes worth listening too – some variable in quality and some very much better than others – mostly from the US. I haven’t found anything from a UK PPL pilot yet. Some record two-way radio conversation between tower and pilot, giving a commentary on what’s going on. (This is almost certainly illegal to publish in the UK). I found it useful even if the radio technique isn’t the same as the UK (there is no separate VHF radio practical exam for the FAA PPL course). One or two are video rather than just audio, which I can’t say I found much more useful. For those interested - the Student Pilot Podcast episode 24 explains the gizmos required to video your own flights.

Flaps podcast is a fairly recent monthly edition – not just for PPLs – humorous style, covering topics of interest to GA pilots in general.

Finally, I’d say I also found the PPRuNe forum very helpful – there is a huge archive of useful posts - and following many of the threads allows the newbie to figure out how some things (should) work in real life, including after passing the test. It also gives some insight into what you can do once you've passed.

Hope the above is useful.

Thanks to all those who contributed to any of the above.


Last edited by SunnyDayInWiltshire; 4th Feb 2012 at 21:39.
SunnyDayInWiltshire is offline  
Old 17th Nov 2010, 20:41
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Swindon, UK
Age: 51
Posts: 7
Wow, fame at last!

Glad to know someone else was reading my blog and (hopefully) found it useful.

I wrote it primarily as an aide-memoire for me, being able to look back on the mistakes and new achievements helped a lot throughout the PPL.

Best of luck with your continued flying career.

adhawkins is offline  
Old 17th Nov 2010, 21:43
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Ireland
Posts: 95
Well done on passing the skills test. How many hours did you put in? I'm also reading Jason Smart's ebook, it's great to get a documented perspective on the PPL training process.
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Old 17th Nov 2010, 21:48
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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Wow, fame at last!

Sometimes it was a bit of a battle forcing myself to write up every single flight, but I stuck with it in the hope that it might be useful to others!
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Old 18th Nov 2010, 06:55
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@adhawkins, stevelup: Fame Indeed - I think you would be surprised how much (positive) effect your writings have. I did make an attempt at a PPL learning blog myself, but failed miserably. It takes time, dedication and perseverance - I used all mine up just learning to fly

@AOB9: I set myself the goal of getting the PPL during 2010. Started in January but poor weather and aircraft tech problems meant little happened until April. Switched to PA28 and booked 2-3 hours every weekend, with the usual cancellations due to weather, aircraft tech, instructor availability. I found that shorter times between lessons helped maintain momentum - I didn't have to relearn much each time. My best (and most enjoyable) progress was a period of 4-5 days in the summer where I flew every day, sometimes twice. Overall it took 9 months from start to finish, 55 hours (including the PPL skills test lasting 2 hours). I soloed at 17:35, so the old story that your total PPL time is about 3x time to go solo was approximately right. I could possibly have done it a few hours less - it took an hour or two to retrain on the PA28, I was keen to take a short lesson when the conditions really weren't suitable and we had a club trip in the summer, but pretty happy about the time. I had originally started out thinking I'd go for NPPL, but after some advice on PPRuNe plus the flying school saying that you still need almost as many hours training regardless, I switched to PPL after going solo.
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Old 18th Nov 2010, 11:23
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Many congratulations SDiW!
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Old 20th Dec 2010, 22:35
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Winnipeg
Posts: 6
I'm also reading the eBook by Jason Smart
Jason Smart, who wrote an eBook after learning in Leeds
Enjoying it very much. Boy he had a rough time with the Weather compared to where I am (Winnipeg, Canada). I tend to have about 25% of my lessons cancelled due to weather/winter.

(Strange, I can no longer find the link (on PPRuNe?) where you can may a PayPal donation towards his book?).

Steven Smart
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Old 20th Dec 2010, 23:12
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Join Date: May 2007
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I've considered turning my blog into some e-books, available on Amazon.

Was just wondering if people think there'd be any interest on them? Would probably charge a small fee (couple of quid perhaps) but can't realistically see it making me much money! It's mainly the techno-geek in me wanting to have a go at it!

I was considering doing one that documents my PPL training from the first visit to the school, right up to the skills test. Another would then document the IMC rating training and tests.

I guess I could also do a volume that documents my post training flying (perhaps a year at a time) but not sure there'd be much demand for that!

What do people think? Am I deluding myself?


adhawkins is offline  
Old 21st Dec 2010, 15:13
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Somerset
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I've started doing a similar thing (doing a blog that is), thought I was the only one.

These are great blogs folks, they've given me some good ideas as well as being inspiring reads.

Thanks SunnyDay for listing them, and congratulations on the PPL. Have you got your brown envelope yet?

Last edited by bumitch; 21st Dec 2010 at 17:18.
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Old 21st Dec 2010, 19:57
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Books don't make money

@adhawkins: I think compiling your experiences into an easily digestible form and promoting it would be a good idea in principle, but only if done for the right reasons.

Your blog is already easily accessible and follows a clear structure, but formatting as an book with some careful review, topping and tailing would appeal to prospective and current UK PPL students.

Formatting and self-publishing as a book with ISBN number can be done for almost no cost, including being listed on Amazon. You can also publish on Kindle and other eBook formats for free too. Don't underestimate the amount of time it takes to do this properly (proof reading, formatting etc) though. If you want to promote it (being on Amazon with millions of other books doesn't generate sales by default) that takes a lot of time too.

Since the cost of this is almost entirely your own time and effort, probably best to give away free eBook (printed version at cost). There are books around that describe the PPL course but few if any describing it from the student's viewpoint.

Alternatively, there is a real lack of a decent book about the IMC qualification, outside the technical coursework.

Good luck if you choose to proceed.

@bumitch: pleased to say the licence appeared 2 weeks after posting off all the paperwork. Somewhat unimpressive piece of paper that understates the effort and cost of obtaining it.

As an addendum, I'll add a couple of great books to read after passing the test which I think I'll come back to again and again. I've read many others but these worked best for me.

- Clearer Horizons by James Allan (AFE)
- Beyond PPL by Nigel Everett
SunnyDayInWiltshire is offline  
Old 21st Dec 2010, 21:28
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@Rebecca Jayne: thanks. Like most people I've been thwarted by recent bad weather conditions - made several trips to the airfield to look at the clouds recently, but little actual flying.

So instead have been making plans for next year and hope to complete the Night Qualification over the winter. I'd like to gain plenty of VFR experience before thinking about IMC, but will be watching the regulatory developments to see if this must be done before 2012.

Good luck with your PPL training and do keep up the momentum if you can. I reckon that the quicker you can do this, the fewer hours you'll need.
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Old 9th Feb 2011, 09:59
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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I just finished reading Jason Smarts book, I absolutely loved the book and the way how Jason writes, I had many laughs and learned alot, a must read!

Is there paypal for Jason? I would like to send him exactly 14$...
Svanen is offline  

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