Aviation combines check rides, tests, knowledge updates and the bugbear, exams, in order to ensure that flying around the place is as safe as a Boeing. My retired instructor Russell, however, scoffed at the intellectual pilot saying there’s too much time spent on books and too little time spent flying as modern aviators go about their business.
Being older than 50 and deciding to consider commercial flying at my age means that I partially agree with Russell. The older you get, the longer it takes to embed technical knowledge unless of course you have the luxury of not working at all, which makes study a little easier. The 20-somethings who are subsidized by state or mom and pop have all day to pick up those tomes of aviation in order to prepare for the exam. I, on the other hand, am a parent of said 20-somethings and spend most of my time funding health coverage or education. That leaves a few hours a night or early morning in order to flip open Flight Planning ATPL study notes.
Ok, that’s my massively self-serving excuse.
Recently I signed up with RPAS Training Academy in Wonderboom to do drone training. Part of the course is theory, and of course when you have theory you have exams. They were multiple choice and not too onerous and I managed to pass the three which certified pilots write. These included Batteries, drone technical and air law. But the process itself is stressful at any age.
Last year I attempted the Air Law for Commercial pilots exam in February and failed with a miserable 56% where the pass mark is 75%. That set back my plan to become a commercial pilot and instructor as a latter life plan somewhat. But its not over yet, I’m still going ahead with the master plan and as long as my health holds out, I could be an instructor until well into my 70’s based on my medical certification.
That was the other test I managed to pass this last Monday, the infamous Aviation Medical Class I, the highest you can get, but as the years go by, it will become more and more difficult to maintain that level. My doctor is also a pilot and has his own Lancair, which makes me an envious patient. While he was testing my blood pressure, he mentioned that he’d flown back from Stellenbosch the day before at a heady 314 knots and it took him 2 and a half hours to Vanderbijl Park.
Impressive. In my next life I also plan to return as an aviation doctor with my own aeroplane. Right now the big life test is passing flying exams while maintaining a job and keeping my wife and kids happy.
Here’s a little video of my significant other marching around a local sports ground.
As a balancing act its more difficult combining work, love and life than recovering from an unusual attitude at night while flying on instruments. But I’m not complaining, at least I’m not living in Venezuela.