Bose A20 review

So a few months back I decided to upgrade my David Clark H10-13.4 to a set of Bose A20’s. I wanted to fly a bit with the new headset before I gave my opinion of them, so this is my Bose A20 review.

Firstly I want to start by saying the David Clark are a great starter headset, in fact of the passive headsets I used they were by far the best and you may find they are perfect for your needs. I am working towards the airlines and as I have a lot of flying to do, I wanted to at least see what the Bose could offer.

The main stumbling point in regards to the Bose is getting your head around the price. Bose strictly control the price of new headsets so you won’t find much variation in regards to price and the standard selling price is £999 for the bluetooth version and £910 for the non bluetooth version in the UK.
The non bluetooth does have a line in so you can feed your iPad or your phone into this headset also, it is just one wire. It does have a mix mode which cuts the line in when you get radio communications but I cannot comment on this as I have never used this mode.
In regards to price there is a second option and that is to purchase a used set. I managed to pick up a later model A20 headset for £500 which to me is a more justifiable cost. I mean £500 is still a lot of money of course but Aviation is not a cheap thing to be involved in and by this point you have probably realised that. It didn’t cost me much to buy a replacement mic sock and foam cups for the the headset.
However, just because something is expensive doesn’t make it poor value for money. You should really do what you can to protect your hearing as once it goes it doesn’t come back. ANR helps this and while you don’t have to spend £900 it doesn’t make a £900 headset poor value. As with anything try a few headsets, I am sure there is someone at your flying club who has a set they will be willing to let you try.

Value / Features
Anyways onto the actual headset and if I think it offers value for money in regards to the cheaper headsets (as it should at £900+).
The first thing to talk about is the active noise reduction. I read reviews where people say they plug it in and turn it on and think is the engine on? I don’t know about all of that as you can clearly hear the engine, but what does change is what level of engine noise you hear.
You can hear the engine running and any changes in it, the difference is how loud it is. When I am wearing the Bose A20 the engine noise is significantly lower. This also extends to communications with ATC, they are nice and clear and the communication is easy to make out. The headset removes the sounds you don’t “need” and just leaves you with the essential sounds. If you try a passive headset then put on the Bose headset you will hear a clear difference between the two.
The next main selling point for me is the comfort levels. As this headset is £910+ you would expect a high quality construction, which you do get. When you pick up the Bose it fees high quality and looks like it costs a lot of money.
I remember after long flights with the David Clarks sometimes I just couldn’t wait to get the headset of my head. As they are passive noise reduction they have quite a high clamping pressure to achieve this. When wearing the Bose I tend to forget it’s there, they are very light and don’t put pressure on my head when flying. After landing I am in no rush to get them off my head which sometimes I am with a long flight with the David Clark’s. In fact, the Bose really are a joy to wear, they are light and so well put together.
The batteries last for ages, in fact since I have gotten them I haven’t had to replace them. Bose state that the two AA batteries should last around 40 hours.
Bose also offer a 5 year warranty on the headsets and from what I can see their fixed price out of warranty repairs are very reasonable also.

So would I recommend the headset? Without a doubt I would say yes, protecting our hearing is important and the Bose A20 can grow with you as you can change the cable for the different type of aircraft you may end up flying.
If the cost of the headset is top much then cheaper headsets like the David Clark’s are still great. In fact these are now my passenger set and I have not had any complaints in regards to them, however now that I have gone ANR, I won’t be going back!

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Module 2 revision week at Bristol Ground School

So I have just got back from Module 2 revision week at Bristol Ground School.

Bristol Ground School

This course started on a Sunday due to Easter which is great as I only had to take 4 days of work.
There were actually a few people on the course I talk online so it was nice to meet them in person.
I was actually sitting next to a guy I met at my exams in Jan and it seems our schedules are lining up in regards to exams at mod 3, which is nice.
It seems crazy to me that he lives in Newcastle and has to come all the way down south to sit his exams. I think the CAA really need to open more centres in the UK. I am quite lucky that there is a centre right here in Luton.
Pro tip – Book your exams as soon as you start your module even if its 4-6 months away. You will be surprised how quickly some of these exams can fill up.
Oh, I put my exams back to June, I was looking and saw some availability so I decided that I would take the extra month as it can’t hurt can it?
The days at the school are long and I would describe it as a fast paced recap of the ATPL material you have previously read. The real benefit of the course for me is that if you are stuck on something you have a teacher you can ask who will try to answer for you.
Also another benefit of the revision weeks is the interaction with other students. You can get a lot of tips and advice and also just gauge how you are getting on.
We had John for Air law / Radio Nav, Chris and Mac for AGK and JJ for Flight Planning.
My real frustration is the lack of flexibility with the ATPL exams. Even if you read the material for a subject you cannot sit it “early” until you have sat the brush up week.
As you know I have decided to move Flight Planning to Mod 4, so I figured hey ill do the material and sit VFR comms now and get it out the way. Well no, for some reason I am not allowed to do that. I can’t sit the exam until I have sat mod 3 brush up where they basically do no covering of comms.
I don’t blame Bristol for this as no doubt this rule comes from the CAA or EASA and their mandated classroom time.
I have now moved both comms exams to “mod 4” as I really want to get Mass and Balance, Performance, Ops and Principles of Flight done in mod 3. Leaving me 2 “hard” and 2 “easier” exams for mod 4 in General Navigation and Flight planning.
Oh, we was told that from August some exams will be going from multiple choice to an input field. I remember it would include Performance, Flight planning, Mass and Balance and I can’t recall the forth one. It was supposed to be next year however the CAA decided that 1500 new questions a year wasn’t enough, so lets hit this group of students with even more changes. The fact we are going through more changes than anyone in ATPL history clearly isn’t enough.
While I was down there I also paid for and picked up my mod 3 material so I am ready to go straight on to it (and saved £13.50 in shipping costs). Every little helps and all that.
I have booked onto mod 3 which will be at the end of September and I am looking to sit the mod 3 exams in either November or December depending on my progress.
I had planned to do some flying weather permitting over the long weekend however the plane has gone tech so looks like it’s revision for me.

Hour Building: Blackbushe to Kemble (Cotswold) Airport

After trying since the turn of the year I finally managed hour building: Blackbushe to Kemble (Cotswold) Airport.

en route to kemble

So earlier this week it looked like we would have a perfect weekend weather wise, however after being disappointed 90% of the time i have tried to fly this year I was apprehensive.
However, when I woke up the skies were clear so I decided to take advantage. I had a three hour slot in the plane and decided to go to Kemble and back. It wouldn’t leave much time on the ground but you got to take these opportunities when you can.
After checking out the plane I knew time would be limited so I got airborne and set off. There was some haze en route but apart from that it really was a great day to fly.
I talked to Farnborough and Brize Radar en route. This was my first experience of talking to Farnborough and you have to be quick to get your message in! I think it took a good 5 minutes before I was able to get my message across. There was a lot of people inadvertently talking over each other and the controller defiantly had their work out.
At Kemble they asked for a standard overhead join which I had not done since my PPL but it went perfectly with no issues. I must say just the simple circuit direction on Skydemon made this process so much easier.
Kemble is a really cool airport with lots of old jets around ready for scrapping. Also the landing fee is only £8 which is pretty good especially when you consider it costs £30 to land at Shoreham!

old aircraft at kemble

With such a small time window there was just enough time to eat before getting back in the air for the return leg to Blackbushe.
It was uneventful and I spoke to London Centre before switching to Farnborough and back to Blackbushe.
All in all was a great day and I was grateful to get my first land away done since my cross-country qualifier almost a year ago! I look forward to exploring the UK some more this year while building my hours.

Another 1.9 hours in the log book 🙂

Here is a short video from the flight.

ATPL Theory Month 10

The never ending slog of the ATPL exams continues with ATPL theory month 10.
grafam water
I am going to be perfectly honest I was approaching the point where I had enough. Pretty much every night I get in from a long day of work and have to study these exams to the point that it was taking over my life. I made a decision that I am going to make some “me” time every night. If this is watching a movie for 2 hours, or a few games of Fifa, I am no longer going to let the ATPL theory study take over my life.
I have split my study over four modules leaving 2 for any retakes that are needed.
With that being said of course I still have to make sure I put in the work, so I have been studying towards my next set of exams which are in May. I decided that studying 4 exams at the same time around work is way too much, so in my next sitting I will be taking 3. Air Law, Radio Nav and Aircraft General Knowledge. In my opinion this is more than enough to be studying simultanionusly. I have said before I don’t understand the benefit of forcing people to sit multiple exams at the same time rather than one by one so they can get a good understanding of the subject.
I am going through the question bank and looking back at the material to try to fill in gaps in my knowledge.
I am scheduled to do my revision week in Bristol in the middle of April and I will make a decision 1 week before the exams if I am ready to sit them or if I need to push them back a month. I hope I will be ready to sit them as the 18 month clock is already ticking down and quite frankly I want these exams out of my life.
I think I am doing better in AGK and Air Law where as I need to put some more work in Radio Nav.
Hopefully the week down in Bristol next month will be helpful for me and help to fill in what gaps I have in my knowledge.
I also think that the lack of flying this year is not helping me. I have only managed 1.5 hours all in the circuit due to the poor weather. I tried to go to Kemble the weekend just gone but due to 30kts gusting wind en route and 20+ at the airport I decided to scrap that. Hopefully the weather will change soon and I can plan some nice land aways.
For this reason I think it’s a good idea to set my sim back up. I have FSX but as it is so old and with Xplane 11 coming out I think it might be time to make the change.
Anyways, back to my study 🙂

How I will sit my ATPL exams

As I am sure anyone who reads this blog knows, I am currently doing my ATPL theory with Bristol Ground School. This post is just a quick update on how I will sit my ATPL exams.
atpl month 9
The default course from Bristol is 14 exams in 3 sittings. I tried to stick with this but I am finding this too much around a full-time job in IT and life in general. Even though Bristol suggest 3 sittings, you actually have 6 sittings and 18 months to pass all 14 exams. For this reason I have decided to try to complete the exams in 4 sittings which leaves 2 spare for resists if needed. I wouldn’t suggest trying to do your exams in any more than 4 sittings, as should you fail any exams I personally would want at least 2 more attempts at them.
I have spoken to someone who actually split it into 6 sittings and failed an exam in his final sitting, this is not a position you want to be in as he was left with no choice but to sit them all again!
I have spoken to many different trainees in the last month or two and it would seem that quite a few of us are struggling with some of these exams, with some people unfortunately just missing the 75% min score and others just about scraping over the line. Hopefully this will take of some added pressure and allow me to spend more time per exam.
My new ATPL theory course looks like this.

Mod 1 – January 2017

  • Instrumentation
  • Meteorology
  • Human Performance and Limitations

Mod 2 – June 2017

  • Radio Navigation
  • Aircraft General Knowledge and Electrics
  • Air Law

Mod 3 – December 2017

  • IFR Communications
  • Principle of flight
  • Mass and Balance
  • Performance

Mod 4 – April 2018

  • General Navigation
  • Flight Planning
  • VFR Comms
  • Operational Procedures

As you can see it is a bit more spaced out and also I can spend more time on the mod 4 subjects as hopefully I will have at least 6 months to pass them.
I sat my first exams in January 2017, so I have until July 2018 to pass the rest. It is still a long way to go but hopefully this will make it just a bit easier.

Hour building: More circuits 

I was starting to think this weather was never going to change but thankfully this week I did Hour Building: More Circuits.

The weather so far in 2017 has been shocking every time I have tried to fly. I had 5 weeks of successive cancellations so I was very happy when I spotted a gap in the weather this morning. I called Blackbushe and was told that the clouds are at 2000ft, excellent I thought, lets get some circuits in!
By the time I got to the airfield they were at 1500ft, not excellent but still above circuit height, however I needed to get going. I did the check out, thankfully the plane was fueled as there was a queue of people waiting to fill up.
I went up and did 5 circuits, the first one wasn’t my best as I was getting rid of the “ring rust” but it all improved quickly after that one.
On the last circuit however the wind changed pretty big, it was a real battle on final and required a lot of maneuvering to get the plane back down on the ground. I saw the guy after me cancelled his flight due to wind and to be fair, I don’t blame him.
It looks like maybe spring is arriving and I can do some more interesting flights and visit some airfields in the near future.
Well that was a fun break, back to preparing for my next set of exams as my revision week is next month!


ATPL Month 9: Flight Planning, Radio Nav and Aircraft General Knowledge

Oh man what an awful month flying wise this has been. The weather has left me grounded every time I tried to fly so I put in a lot of time on my ATPL theory. This is a quick recap of ATPL Month 9: Flight Planning, Radio Nav and Aircraft General Knowledge.

atpl month 9

As you can see from the last month I have made some great progress and I am currently around 90% through the syllabus in the ATP digital software. I have had just 2 days with no study and I have been putting in on average 4-5 hours a day, it’s been intense.
This only tells half the story, I will now move to the question banks (well once I finish) and refer back to the books often to try to fill in any gaps in my knowledge, so in reality I think finishing the module is only 50% done and the question bank practice is the other 50%.
I have spoken to a few people recently and every is in agreement that the exams seem to be going through huge changes and a lot of people are just about passing some exams and failing others.
On to the subjects, to be fair I didn’t really enjoy that many. AGK, Radio Nav and Air Law are quite a lot of facts to remember and sometimes it feels like my brain is working overtime because these facts are just relentlessly being served up and drilled into your head.
Flight planning I found more “fun”. You use maps and charts to work out your answers. There are two things that I guarantee you will hate MRJT and LRJT. At the moment the feedback seems to be that these questions are not showing up, but they can be put back in at any time!
I have changed my revision week to April due to the speed I was getting through the material and have changed my exams to May. I will see how the progress is over the next few months and if needed push the exams back a month to June, time will tell.
Ah well, lets hope that I can get some flying in this upcoming month to break up this endless study.

This weather is awful

Not really much to say at the moment as this weather is awful so I am pretty much grounded because of it.
Awful weather
As you can see from the forecast from two of my local airports the chances of getting any flying done are pretty slim. I don’t recall the weather last year being this bad but in the first few months of 2017 it has pretty much been awful whenever I have tried to fly.
I really want to start navigating away from the circuit / local area again and I am looking to do my first trip to Kimble in the Cotswolds, however every time I have the plane booked the weather is seeming to put an end to it.
The other day it had dawned on me that my last land away was actually my PPL cross-country qualifier which was ages ago now! I did do a trip to Shoreham (nice airport but £30 landing fee?) but I flew the return leg back to Cranfield. I don’t want to get rusty on the radio or my navigation so I need to make sure I keep practicing.
Also I only have around 60 hours of flight time. I still have a lot of hours to build to be ready for my CPL course and I also need to do a qualifying flight of 300NM with landings at 2 aerodromes.
In the mean time I am focusing on my ATPL theory, I have not to long started Airframe and Systems, Electrics, Power Plant and Emergency Equipment. To say I am not loving it is an understatement but I will go into that in more detail on my next ATPL theory post.
Anyways, lets hope that the weather improves over the next week or so. I can see that Monday and Tuesday are looking good but it seems to head downhill once again after that.
Send your prayers to the weather goods to send us some clear blue skies to disappear into!

Interview with Lauren Richardson, Aerobatics display pilot

It has been a while since we did an interview, so I am very happy to bring you an Interview with Lauren Richardson, Aerobatics display pilot.
As we all know there are many different types of flying that you can do, so it’s great to have Lauren talk about Aerobatics.
If you don’t know about Lauren, then she is a 29 year old PPL holder who has been flying for around 10 years and displaying Aerobatics for 5. You can check her out in the following video!

  1. Hi Lauren, how did you get into flying?
    I’d always wanted to fly for as long as I can remember – from the very first time as a child I asked my parents what the thing was that was drawing a line in the sky over our house. Not being from a monied family I never put too much thought into actually getting into aviation as it was obviously something we as a family could never afford. I decided to leave school when I was 16 to do an apprenticeship in engineering, and when I’d completed that and begun earning a decent wage, I set about saving what spare money I had toward taking flying lessons – I was 19 or 20 when I took my first lesson and loved it.

  2. Tell me about your initial training?
    By the time I’d saved enough money to actually contemplate learning to fly (I didn’t want to get into any debt, or start flying without the means to complete my PPL so this took a while), I lived alongside the runway at RAF Halton – home to a small flying club who catered not just for service personnel, but for a limited number of civilians (mostly local) too. I was fortunate to be allowed to join the club and train there to get my PPL.
    I spent the majority of my time on the venerable Cessna 152, with a mix of some PA28 and even some Cessna 182 flying to mix things up a little. I remember enjoying the challenge of learning to fly immensely, and I think to date, my first solo is still my proudest flying achievement.

  3. How did you end up flying aerobatics?
    People ask me this one all the time, and the answer is simple yet probably quite disappointing. Basically, I got bored. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dismissing A-to-B flying or hiring C152/PA28s to take your mates for a spin, it just wasn’t enough to keep me entertained once I’d gained a few hours. I’ve always needed to be challenged in every aspect of my life or I lose interest. I can distinctly remember one flight where I went out alone in a C152 with no real aim or goal other than to keep some form of currency, when I suddenly realised I wasn’t actually enjoying it all that much. Once the challenge of learning to fly had seemingly finished and I’d got my license, ticked the box, I guess I really needed something else to force me to continue to learn. This is where aerobatics came in (after nearly a 2 year complete layoff from flying after that C152 flight actually). I had a go in a friend of a friend’s Pitts S2A (something I’d always wanted a go in, just so I could say I’d had a go in a Pitts! I didn’t want him to actually turn it upside down…).
    After some persuasion I let the instructor demonstrate a loop to me and that was it – the moment I sat there, looking up through the canopy at the ground BELOW me, I was hooked. I had to do more. It was like a hit of a narcotic, an instant addiction, a challenge that I knew would always be far greater than I could ever perceive myself.

  4. You fly a Pitts Special S1-S, what makes this plane so special?
    Just look at her!
    In all seriousness, she’s about the best value aerobatic aeroplane you can buy. Incredibly capable but still with the character of a biplane. What’s not to love?Lauren Richardson 2
  5. You have achieved so much, how did you manage to progress to where you are at now?
    There are many stories to tell but the truth is, everything I’ve done and achieved has been a result of three key elements: sheer stubbornness/determination, intense hard work (that has at times necessitated some heartbreaking sacrifice), and the support and enthusiasm of some amazing people in the community around me.
    It hasn’t been easy, it has been harder than I can express in words. At times it honestly hasn’t seemed worth it, but each time I’ve felt low something or someone has picked me up – I have a picture on my wall drawn by a 4 year old girl of my aeroplane flying over her family at an airshow a couple of years ago that I look at every now and then as a reminder. I have a selection of emails from people telling me their own stories of things that my efforts and journey have inspired them to go and do. The messages of encouragement and thanks make all the hardship worth it. To inspire and bring some joy into other people’s lives through my own love affair with flying is a huge privilege and something I hope to never lose sight of.

  6. What advice do you have for anyone who want’s to follow in your footsteps?
    Honestly? I’d probably say don’t.
    Unless you’re willing to pursue a goal that will cost everything you earn, scare you senseless, make you ache and hurt and cry and wonder why you even bother…
    If however, you’re willing to give everything of yourself to pursue a dream, and the dream you have is the same as mine, feel free to get in touch and if I can help I will.
    The best advice really is to do what makes you happy. Flying airshows and aerobatics isn’t for everyone but there are a few of us out there who would be lost without it. The sheer joy and freedom is unbeatable, which is why I do it!

  7. What is your favourite aerobatic moves and why?
    It’s very hard to pick just one, so I’m going to list a few:
    The avalanche: a flick roll on top of a loop. There’s just something joyous about the gentle tumble-dryer experience that needs to be felt to be understood.
    Tailslides: straight up until you run out of momentum and thrust, close the throttle and the aeroplane literally drops backward out of the sky on its tail controlled by nothing but gravity. When you get these right they can be insanely violent when the machine transitions from tail down to nose down – it flops very suddenly. I have a video on youtube where you can hear me laughing out loud, they’re so much fun.

  8. What are your goals going forward with your flying?

    Short term:
    Display a few more interesting types (I was honoured to be given a Russian Yak 50 to display last year and I just LOVED it – more of this please!). Write more articles for the aviation magazines (I’m an occasional contributor for Pilot – with Pitts Special and Yak 50 air tests both published, as well as the odd opinion piece). Do more aerobatic and complex/tailwheel instruction. Fly more. Become a better pilot.
    Medium term:
    Do more work as a STEM ambassador and help more youngsters into aviation/engineering. Make a move from engineering for a living into flying.  Do more speaking engagements. Fly more. Become a better pilot.
    Long term:

    Learn to fly historic types and end up as a warbird display pilot. Fly more. Become a better pilot.

    lauren richardson

  9. What are your views on the numbers of female pilots?
    Obviously I’d love to have more women to fly with. Big steps are being made forward by lots of different flying groups to open more women’s eyes to the possibility that they might make good pilots, which ultimately is all we can do. Not everyone wants to fly, not everyone can and not everyone is given the opportunity to. All we can do is try to stack the odds in the favour of those that may want and be able to do it.

  10. You are now doing your ATPL’s, what are your long term goals?
    I’m going through ATPL ground school with Bristol Groundschool and the Wings Alliance (who I’m delighted to say are supporting me as sponsors for the 2017 display season) as I’m wanting to get my CPL and make a bit of a career move into some form of flying for a living (I display on a PPL and the money raised only contributes to the cost of owning and keeping the aeroplane). Ultimately I’d love to get into commercial helicopter flying but it’ll be a few years before I have any chance of affording to do this. In the meantime, CPL, ME/IR if I can afford it – I’d like to do some varied jobs, maybe in the corporate or air ambulance arenas as I’ve no interest in heading to the airlines.

  11. Is there anything you would like to add?
    Flying is amazing, never take for granted the freedom and joy of flight as not everyone gets to experience it. Never stop loving what you do, never stop being scared. The day the dangers no longer scare you or you no longer love what you do, it’s time to move on.
    Never give up on a dream, no matter how nuts it may seem. Determination and hard work are often the keys to opportunity.


I would like to thank Lauren for taking the time to speak to us and you can read all about Lauren and her adventures on her website

ATPL Month 8: Exams and Air Law

A lot happened this month so I will do a quick recap of ATPL month 8: Exams and Air Law.
mod 2 month 8

The month started of with me finally sitting my first ATPL exams.
It felt good to get them out the way, but after having just two days to rest and chill, I ordered module 2 and got cracking.
As you know I am studying with Bristol Ground School and module 2 consists of Air Law, AGK Electrics, Flight Planning and Radio Navigation.
I had previously booked my revision week for May 2017, I am staying with the same lady I did as last time and I have already booked the exams for June. So I am all sorted in regards to the final exam preparation I just need to get through the material and get up to speed before then.
For this reason I had configured my software to make sure I will finish the study material by the end of March at the latest. This should give me around 2 months to go through the QB and to revise in preparation for the exams.
I am currently running a bit ahead of schedule and as things stand I will finish module 2 some point around mid march if I keep the pace up.
I decided to start with air law which is a very important subject with a lot of information, however it is quite possibly the most dry subject you will ever come across and for that reason it is not the most fun to study.
As you can tell it is a lot of rules and regulations that you need to get your head around, however I am making good progress and I am already on lesson 31, there are 37 in total.
It feels like it was so long since I finished reading the material for module 1 but so far I am actually quite enjoying module 2 so far.