Which ATPL Ground School?

After you complete your PPL if you plan to get to the airlines the next step is ATPL ground school. This is where you do the 14 exams that will allow you to then move on to the CPL ME / IR after you have completed your hour building.
In the UK there are three big ground school providers that people either do a distance learning or residential ground school course with.  So we will show you a list of which ATPL ground school.

  1. Bristol Ground School – One of the most recognisable names in the game. Bristol ground school have been helping pilots through their exams for over 21 years. They are also well known for their question bank which you can subscribe to even if you are not a ground school student.
    As the name suggests the school is based in Bristol. Study is mainly done with books and an online CBT.
    The school says your exams can be completed in 10 to 13 months and the cost of the distance learning package is £2140 including the brush up weekends.
  2. CATS Aviation Training – CATS aviation is based out of Luton with a campus also at Gatwick.
    This school has many options of how to study depending on what you prefer. You can get an online CBT only course with all brush up weekends for £1399 or you can get the course with books provided for £1999.
    If you prefer a residential course you can sign up for their in-house course at a cost of £3999. The residential course comes with the books included.
    CATS also have an offline Ipad application.
  3. ProPilot – ProPilot are based up in Coventry and offer both residential courses as well as distance learning. The distance learning course costs £2100 and comes with printed books or and Ipad app depending on what you prefer. They also have their own question bank called ATPL online which you get 12 months access too. If you are not studying with ProPilot you can still subscribe to this question bank.

On top of this there are many other schools scattered up and down the country that could assist you with the ATPL theory.
No matter which school you pick the ATPL theory is no joke and you will need to commit a substitutional amount of time to studying and passing the exams.

Training via the modular route? Then read The Essential Modular Flight Training Guide.

The essential flight training guide

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Private Pilots License


How many of us have dreamed about learning to fly? Or played Microsoft flight simulator on the PC and thought, wow it would be so cool to learn for real. Then we just dismiss it as a crazy dream and continue living our life.
However every time an aircraft flies overhead you can’t help but look up at it and think, what if?
Well I was the same as all of you, until this year I decided, wait a minute I CAN actually do this. Every year thousands of people get their Private Pilots License which allows them to fly under VFR (Visual Flight Rules) in small light aircraft.
The great thing about the Private Pilots License is that it is also the start of modular flight training which can take you right through to a Frozen Air Transport Pilot License. Once you have this you can apply to airlines for a job!
The Private Pilots License is not a commitment that should be taken lightly. At current rates here in the UK it will cost around £8000 to learn to fly and that is only if you do it in the minimum time of 45 hours.
You should make sure that you have enough money to fly regularly because gaps in training will most likely end in you spending more money to gain your license.
Your instructor will take you from no experience to being able to fly safely, recover from upsets, navigate and become and expert on the radio. On top of this you will also have to complete 9 exams. These exams are the following –

  • Air Law
  • Operational Procedures
  • Human Performance and limitations
  • Meteorology
  • Flight Performance and Planning
  • Aircraft General Knowledge
  • Principles of Flight
  • Communications
  • Navigation

You will be surprised how many flying schools there are all over the country, there is most likely one near you. Most schools will offer trial lessons which will allow you to get a feel for if this is for you. The time you fly on your trial license can also be counted towards your total hours and the 45 you need to be issued your license.
If you have ever dreamed of learning to fly, do it! Get down to your local club and get up in the air.
Thousands of people do it every year so why can’t you?

Where to do your CPL ME / IR

A380 Airbus cockpit

With the cost of finishing your CPL ME /IR here in the UK costing anywhere from £20,000 upwards, many students are looking to see if they can get the same training elsewhere for a lot cheaper. There many really good FTO’s around the world and in some places it is just cheaper to fly, this makes the cost of the courses less.
In this post we look into where to do your CPL ME / IR.
In Europe we are under EASA Regulations which means we can train anywhere in Europe and get our licences issued by the CAA here in England.
Flight training costs are not standardised across the EU and some countries such as Poland and Hungary have significantly cheaper costs.

So far in Europe I have come across three schools where you can do your CPL ME / IR for significantly cheaper than you can in the UK. Here are three schools I have found when looking at the costs of training. As always you need to do your own research and make sure you know what you are getting into. Do not take these as recommendations but more as something to look at when you make your own decisions.
I have listed these schools in terms of price.

Update 2018.
The prices had changed massivley.
As things stand, the schools in Poland and Diamond Flight Academy are the most popular European schools.

From here you can then complete your MCC / JOC back home in the UK and then apply to the CAA for your Frozen ATPL licence.
I am a big fan of the modular route, if you look around are smart and are prepared to travel you can complete your training without a mortgage sized loan. The savings you make here could go towards the type rating you may have to pay when you finally get employed.

Which GoPro to buy for flying


It seems the must have accessory these days when doing any kind of action activity is the very versatile GoPro camera. However with many models available you may ask which GoPro to buy for flying?
Well in this post I will let you know which models you should look to get and which ones you should avoid.

GoPro Hero
This is the cheapest member of the GoPro family but is also the most basic camera. The video capabilities max out at 1080p 30 frames per second and photos are taken at 5pm. This camera cannot record from an external microphone so ATC comms is a no go.
This camera has the following features –

  • 1080p 30fps video
  • 5mp photos
  • 40m waterproof

GoPro HERO On Amazon UK

GoPro Session
The newest member of the GoPro family the Session is an all in one camera that is lighter and smaller than the other GoPros. I do not recommend this camera due to the fact it cannot accept external misc which if you want to record ATC communications on your video is essential.
The camera has the following features –

    • Smallest, Lightest member of the GoPro Family.
    • Waterproof to 10m
    • Easy One-Button Control
    • 1080p 60fps video.
    • 8MP photos.

GoPro HERO4 Session On Amazon UK

GoPro Hero+
A solid camera but one that I will say you should avoid. Don’t get me wrong it is a good camera and takes a good quality video. Once again it does not accept external microphones so you will not be able to record ATC communication directly onto your videos. If this is not a major issue for you then you can purchase it however most of us would like to do that so we would avoid this one.
The Camera has the following features –

  • 1080p 60fps and 720p 60fps video.
  • 8MP photos.
  • Wifi and Bluetooth.
  • Waterproof to 40m

GoPro HERO on Amazon UK

GoPro 4 Silver
The GoPro 4 Silver is the one that I purchased. It has the ability to connect and external mic using the official go pro audio cable. I would avoid the cheap imitations as people are reporting issues with them not working as intended. It also has a LCD touch screen on the back which makes it easy to view the video and change settings on the go.
The camera has the following features –

  • 1080p60 and 720p120 video
  • 12MP photos up to 30 frames per second
  • Wifi and Bluetooth.
  • Protune for photos and video
  • Waterproof to 40m.

GoPro 4 Silver on Amazon UK.

GoPro 4 Black
The GoPro 4 Black is the top model in the GoPro range. This is what they call their Pro camera and the main feature it has over the silver is that it can take 4k video at 30fps! However the black doesn’t have the LCD touch screen that the silver does. If you have the money and the hardware to edit 4k video then this is basically the best that money can buy.
The camera has the following features –

  • Super slow motion at 240 fps
  • 4K 30fps, 2.7K 60fps, 1080p 120fps and 720p 240fps
  • Protune
  • Waterproof to 40m
  • 12MP photos at 30 fps.
  • Improved audio.
  • Wifi and Bluetooth.

GoPro 4 Black on Amazon UK.


GoPro Hero 5

The latest in the GoPro range is the new hero 5. This camera ups the game in a big way with the following

  • Voice activation
  • Touch display
  • Waterproof without a housing
  • One button control
  • Video Stabilization
  • 4k video, WDR photo, exposure control, stereo audio and GPS.

GoPro Hero 5 on Amazon UK

Once you have decided on your camera there are a few accessories I think everyone will need.

      1. BacPac – This pretty much doubles the GoPro’s battery life and is pretty much essential. There are two versions of the BacPac, one with a LCD screen on it and one without.
        GoPro Battery BacPac On Amazon UK
        GoPro LCD Touch BacPac On Amazon UK


      1. Skeleton Housing or Frame – You will need this to get at the GoPro’s audio ports while it is in use, so you can record the aircraft comms. Click here to learn how to record ATC comms with a GoPro camera.GoPro Skeleton Housing On Amazon UK
        GoPro The Frame On Amazon UK


      1. Go Pro Audio Cable – You will need this cable as well as some others to get the ATC on your videos. The link above explains exactly what is needed to achieve this.
        GoPro audio adapter On Amazon UK.


      1. Suction Mount – Last but not least you will need a suction mount. This allows you to mount your GoPro on an aircraft surface.Let me know which GoPro you went for in the comments.
        GoPro Suction Mount on Amazon UK


    1. MicroSD Card – Last but not least you need a memory card, but you don’t want to buy cheap ones because they do not have the speed required. The Sandisk Extreme is a good card that should satisfy your needs.
      SanDisk Extreme 64 GB microSDXC On Amazon UK.
      SanDisk Extreme 32 GB microSDHC On Amazon Uk.

PPL Lesson 2: Basic Handling


So today I had PPL Lesson 2: Basic Handling, which was really just getting used to flying an aircraft.
After take off the control was handed to me and more time was spent getting used to setting the trim correctly again. As well as this we did some climbs, some descending, and some turns, nothing too taxing.
We flew up towards Northampton then over an abandoned airport before heading towards the M1 and following it back down towards Milton Keynes back into Cranfield.
My instructor told me that the next lesson we will do some more interesting stuff but he hasn’t told me what exactly yet.
I also asked him if he minded if I use a GoPro camera on my lessons which he said he didn’t. I will be buying a GoPro silver and aim to get some decent video on my lessons going forward and upload it onto Youtube for people to see. I think it will also be good to watch the footage back and analyze what I am doing.
At the moment I am only doing one lesson a week as I don’t want to put too much money into learning without having a medical. I have an initial class 1 medical booked at Gatwick on Friday so once this is issued I will increase the intensity because at 1 a week it will take the best part of a year to learn!
I am fit and healthy but the thought of the medical is still pretty nerve-racking none the less!
My instructor is off next weekend so I have a lesson booked next week Thursday after work which I’m excited for. In the mean time I am going to go shopping for a GoPro!

Modular flight training route

Coming into land

If you are looking into becoming a pilot then you would have heard of the modular flight training route but may not be sure what exactly it is.
The modular flight training route which can also be known as the self improver route is where you do each part of your training in modules and eventually get issued your frozen ATPL licence.
In this post we will explain what exactly you have to do to go down this route which can be £60,000 less than the integrated route.

An EASA Class 1 medical. There is no point spending any money on flight training without getting this out of the way. You cannot fly for an airline without one.

Step one – PPL
The first step on the modular training route is to get your PPL (Private Pilot Licence). This is where you actually learn to fly and takes a minimum of 45 hours. If you go the integrated route you do not actually get issued this.
You also need to get 5 hours at night to get your night rating either during or after your PPL.

Step 2 – Ground School
This is where your whole life becomes dedicated to the 14 ATPL exams you must pass to continue your training. There are two options with these. A residential course where you go to school every day and a distance learning course which is ideal if you still have a job you need to work around.
You have to pass all exams in a maximum of 6 sittings and they are pretty hard so you need to take them very seriously.

Step 3 – Hour Building
This is where you build your hours up to make the CPL pre requisites which are –

  • Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL)
  • 150 hours total time
  • 100 hours Pilot in Command
  • A pass in all 14 ATPL examinations
  • Class 1 Medical
  • 300nm qualifying cross country
  • Must hold a Multi-Engine piston rating (if completing a multi-engine CPL course)

A lot of people go to America to do this as the aircraft rental rates are a lot cheaper even after you add in flights and accommodation.

Step 4
CPL ME/IR. This is where you do your CPL (Commercial Pilots Licence) ME (Multi Engine) IR (Instrument Rating). A lot of students tend to do this on a combined course.

Step 5
MCC / JOC. This is the final step where you do your MCC (Multi Crew Co Operation) and JOC (Jet Orientation Course). The JOC isn’t actually mandatory for licence issue but more and more airlines are asking for one.

From here you can apply to the CAA for your licence issue and start applying to the airlines for a job.

The beauty of the modular training route is that you can do it around your current job and it is cheaper than the integrated route. The downside is some airlines do not accept modular students. However a lot such as Ryanair, Jet2 and Flybe have all taken modular students recently

I have another post on is integrated training worth over £100,000 that you should read.


How to record ATC comms with a Gopro camera

One of the new must have devices when flying is the ever popular go pro camera. There are many videos on YouTube with people who have the ATC comms which make them a lot better. You like myself was most likely wondering, how do they do that? Well in this post I will teach you how to record ATC comms with a Gopro camera.

This is the equipment you will need.

GoPro Camera
The basic go pro camera is NOT good enough for your requirements. It does not have the ability to have a mic in which is essential for this. For this reason you will need a GoPro 3 or higher in the black or silver edition.
GoPro 4 Silver on Amazon UK.
GoPro 4 Black on Amazon UK.

Suction Mount
We now need to find a way to mount the camera to the aircraft surface so for this we use a mount.
GoPro Suction Mount on Amazon UK

Adapters, cables and Housing.
From here you need to get the audio to the go pro camera. So to link the aircraft comms to the GoPro you will then need.
A 6.3mm adapter to go in the aircraft headset jack.
A 3.5mm cable to run from the adapter. (note – not all the knock of cables work, do your research).
A GoPro audio adapter to go from the cable into the GoPro camera.
A GoPro skeleton housing. This allows you to be able to plug the cable in while the go pro is in use.

From here you just connect the 6.3mm adapter to the aircraft headset jack. The 3.5mm audio cable runs from that to one end of the GoPro audio adapter and then the other end plugs into the your camera.
Then you have ATC comms and passenger communication recorded directly onto your video.

Career change to pilot

a319 easyjet

I currently have a pretty good job, I work in IT something I have done since leaving university. I earn a good enough salary and would actually most likely be taking a pay cut to become a pilot after all the training is done.
Why am I looking to make a career change to pilot?
Passion. While I like my job and I like to think I am pretty good at it (IT Engineer) I love planes! My favourite part of any holiday is the flight and I just find aircraft to be so fascinating and amazing.
I have always wanted to be a pilot deep down. The only thing that has stopped me is money. For this reason I went into my other passion of computers. Years ago I decided I was going to have a shot at this and I began to save with the intention to train the modular route.
I am now 30 years old so really if I am going to do this, it needs to be now. I also said that I wanted to begin my training around 30 and be able to pretty much go from one section to the next.
We spend a lot of our life working and I feel that people should be doing something they love and are passionate about. The happiest people are the ones who have jobs that they love to do. When we do something we love, we are not working at all, but getting paid for our hobby.
My intention is to stay working my job as long as possible, this is the beauty of the modular route. You can hold down a day job and study through the evenings and fly after work and/or at the weekends.
I have also been very passionate about travel all my life, in fact I would say it’s my biggest interest.
At the end of the day, sometimes in life you just have to take a leap of faith. Yes this might be an expensive gamble that doesn’t pay off but it’s better to look back in 30 years and say “I tried” rather than “I wish I tried”.
Fortune favours the brave and all that.
With a bit of luck an airline will see my passion and I will be able to complete my career change to pilot.

PPL Lesson 1: Basic Handling


Yesterday I tried to get my PPL of to a good start but the weather and poor viability put an end to that. Today I woke up to clear blue skies and so I was very optimistic about managing to get PPL Lesson 1: Basic Handling.
As I suspected, we were able to fly so I spoke to my instructor Martin and found out we will be flying in Yankee Bravo today (pictured).
We ran through the A check which is the check you do if you are the first person to use the plane that day. After this we then went through the pre take off checks before my instructor radioed to the tower that we were ready to go.I did the pedal work to keep the plane on the yellow line and after a few more checks we were lined up on the runway ready to go.
We set of and hit a whopping 60 knots before the instructor rotated then it was over to me.
There was nothing to taxing done up here, we did a few turns and I learned how the trim worked (something I think will be very handy going forward).

Above the clouds c152
We went up above the clouds which was very cool. I was surprised that at only 4000ft we were already above the clouds.
I asked my instructor how we would know if other planes were in the cloud and he told me that they had to radio to the tower which makes perfect sense. He also had an app for traffic which helped you to know what was around you.
It felt like we wasn’t up there that long but it was already time to descend and come back into land. My instructor handled the landing as the visibility on the ground wasn’t excellent. No doubt I will be able to get some practice on take offs and landings on my upcoming lessons.
I must admit I felt a bit weird on the climb out but I quickly got over it and started to enjoy it .
Anyways I am booked up for next Sunday so weather permitting lesson two will take place then.

Grounded due to low visibility

Today I learned of the joys of the weather here in the UK. When I arrived at the school today visibility was just 3km the minimum for visual flight is 5km which basically means that we was grounded due to low visibility. Luckily there was a slot tomorrow where we will try again to get the first lesson of the PPL out of the way.
cessna 152










I used the time to speak to my instructor and find out a bit more about what I am signing myself up for.
We took a tour of the plane that we was scheduled to use (above) and went through the instruments and controls. I even found out that we may be flying to France at some point!
I saw the Cessna 172 that we flew on my trail lesson and found out that the school has 10 planes in total. The only other customer at the school this morning looked around 14 and with me being 30 I suddenly started to feel pretty  old. The good news is my instructor told me his last few students had completed the course in 45 hours which from a money point of view would be ideal for me.
I plan to get in a few hours a week because I want to spend the majority of 2016 getting through my ATPL exams. The distance learning course I will use says that the exams will take a whooping 9 months! With ground school being 4 days per module and there being 3 modules in total I need to get it all out the way in 2o16 so I can do hour building early in 2017. However I do not want to get ahead of myself and start thinking about the next step when this one has hardly started.
Lets hope the weather tomorrow will allow me to start my aviation career!