Sam Waller

Course: Modular ATPL, MEP, CPL, IR

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When I started looking for flight schools I had already decided that I wanted to do my training in the UK and  had decided to go down the modular route so I could gain my PPL and do my hour building while working full time, before committing to the cost of commercial training. I visited various schools in the UK and after a tour of BCFT I was impressed by the school, all the staff I met were very welcoming, the facilities were modern and up to date and I was happy the size of the school, which made it a more personal training environment.

I started my time at BCFT with six months ground school covering all the 14 ATPL subjects and taking the exams at the CAA headquarters, Gatwick. All the instructors were knowledgeable of their subjects and more than willing to spend extra time helping if it was needed. I always heard from people that I’d spoken to or articles that I had read online that the ground school and accompanying exams are tougher parts of training, while this is definitely true, I found that the instructors at BCFT prepared me well for these exams and made sure I was ready to sit them when the time came. Another aspect I found helpful during my time in ground school was staying in the student hotel, which is just a short drive from the airport. Staying here meant that I was constantly in the ATPL environment and mixing with other students who were at various stages of their training, so we were able to help each other out and prepare for the exams together!

After I finished ground school, I progressed onto the flight training, probably the most exciting and enjoyable part of the training! One of the best perks of being based at Bournemouth airport is that it is fully controlled, with commercial traffic operating in and out all day, giving anyone training here great experience of operating in a busy and professional environment. A great skill to have when going into the airlines. I started with the Commercial Pilot’s Licence and Multi Engine rating, a great course comprising of VFR navigation, basic instrument flight and best of all learning to fly a multi engine plane for the first time! The Piper PA28 and Beech 76 Duchess that I flew during the CPL and MEP rating were traditional and stable training aircraft, making the process of flying them an enjoyable experience while improving my skills. All the instructors I flew with during this course were great, they ensured that my skills were up to standard for the flight test while making the entire course enjoyable! The school also encourages back seating other students flights, which is a great opportunity for learning and one I found really helpful as you’re able to pick up on various things you may have missed if you were focussing on flying the aircraft.

After completing the CPL and MEP rating, I progressed onto the Instrument rating, which was personally the part of training I was looking forward to the most. It started with 30 hours in the simulator. The simulator at BCFT has the old style ‘steam driven’ gauges, something that I wanted to use so I could get good experience of using them and a solid understanding of instrument flying before progressing onto the more modern glass cockpits that are available. You start out with the basic procedures of instrument flying, including holding and approaches before moving onto flying full routes in the sim. I found this building block style of teaching worked really well for me as I was constantly adding to what I had learnt in the previous sessions until I was flying the full route and test profiles in the sim covering everything in the syllabus. It soon came around that the 30 hours in the sim were over and I was progressing back onto the aircraft again to start instrument flying in the Duchess! The BE76 Duchess that BCFT operate are fitted with the G500 glass cockpit, making an excellent platform, they were intuitive and easy to use for instrument flying. I flew exciting routes to Alderney, Exeter and Cardiff from Bournemouth gaining valuable experience of flying in different airways and the different approaches at these airports while integrating with commercial traffic throughout. During the Instrument rating the instructors were testing our knowledge and helping us improve with not only the flying side of the course but also the theory side, ensuring that I was fully ready for test and I would be able to answer any of the theory questions the examiner could ask during the pre-test briefing!

I really thoroughly enjoyed my time at BCFT and thank all the instructors and staff I met along the way for helping me and making sure I was prepared for every step of the training, but for also making it an enjoyable experience throughout!