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Top 10 tips for doing your NPPL

Handmade flying study notes

Below are our top 10 tips for completing your NPPL.

Tip 1  – Find time to study

It’s important that you find time to sit down and get your head into your books and study. We all learn in different ways and finding the best way we learn will help to keep what we’re reading, stay in our heads! If you’re retired, great, you may have plenty of time. For you, it could be more about finding somewhere with no distractions to study. For those working, make 1-2 hours in the evening, every two or three days, to study. If you’re on business from time to time – take the books with you. Time on a train or on a plane can be well spent studying. If you take an hour for lunch, perhaps find a corner or local coffee shop to study for 30 minutes. Perhaps with a cup of coffee and some relaxing jazz background music?

Tip 2 – Practice on the sim (and at home)

If the weather looks pants don’t cancel the lesson, call the office and change it for sim time! The Ikarus C42 simulator at Airbourne is fantastic. When I was doing my licence several years ago, it provided a lower cost solution that meant I could practice to my heart’s content and cock-ups wouldn’t mean an unserviceable aeroplane!

Ikarus C42 motion simulator
The Airbourne Ikarus C42 simulator visiting a show.

If you have a computer at home, it’s also well worth looking into simulating at home. There are various degrees of how far you can take this (most of which is beyond the scope of this post) but there are some very excellent simulators available with some incredible kit. All you really need though, is a joystick, the software and maybe a set of rudder pedals and you should be good to go.

There are various simulators available:

They all have their own advantages and disadvantages. Microsoft Flight Simulator is probably the most popular but worth having a go on all of them. Plus, for both Microsoft Flight Simulator and Prepare3D there is our very own aircraft available for download and purchase! There are also Ikarus C42 models available for X-Plane.

Ikarus C42 for FSX and Prepar3D
Our very own G-CCYR on FSX and Prepar3D!

Tip 3 – Record CD of radio for practice in the car

Something I found very useful was to create recordings of radio conversations. I enrolled the help of my wife to be the controller (so there was some variation!) and I not only created my own lists but used references from the Skyway Code book. I then put these recordings onto a CD and put that in the player in the car. For those without a CD player, you can put the file on your phone or tablet and play that through your car.

Either way, I found it incredibly helpful for practicing comms chat and radiotelephony procedures.

Tip 4 – Get a Flyer subscription

Flyer magazine
Source: Flyer magazine

As a subscriber myself I do recommend this magazine (not endorsed by Airbourne, author’s opinion only) as a great way of getting news and information on the industry. Flyer magazine is a general aviation mag but leans much more towards lightweight fixed wing and microlights. It has some great opinion pieces in it, useful learnings taken from air accidents, information on new aircraft and lots more. Plus, there;s always a bunch of free landing fees. It costs around £7 a quarter and personally, I think it’s worth the great information found within.

Tip 5 – Join online forums and talk to people

There are a fair few online forums available for you to get involved in. Forums are great sources of information and a great place to talk to like minded people. Here are a few common ones that you can look into. You’ll usually find different sub-forums for specific topics such as training.

Tip 6 – Watch YouTube videos

During my training I watched hours upon hours of YouTube videos. There are some exceptional content producers out there who are just like you and me but put amazing talent and time into producing videos for us. Absolutely use these to learn (keeping in mind they are not instructors) and find out how others approach things.

Take a look at our post on top YouTube personalities.

There are also a few more people worth checking out and taking note of:

  • You Have Control – our very own instructor Ben Hilton’s channel
  • Jodel Flyer – Interesting content covering problems and cross country trips
  • Ben Atkinson – A Heart FM radio presenter, recently passed and transitioned from Skyranger to C42

Tip 7 – Visit a control tower

What better way to get some insight knowledge than talking to the people on the other end of the radio? Remember there are different types of controller. I recommend talking to as many as possible to give you a broader experience. However, the simpler ones are those with air/ground radio (such as Popham or Clench Common) and those with an information service (like Goodwood or Kemble). Both are reasonably different and talking to them can help increase your understanding and airmanship.

Kemble air traffic control
Kemble ATC. Source Paul B. on FourSquare – https://foursquare.com/v/air-traffic–cotswold-airport/4d4959589526b60cf86177ee?openPhotoId=4e60951c1495676d54ea8b64

Tip 8 – Read the safety sense leaflets

These really are an excellent resource, especially if you are learning to fly. Written by the CAA in an easy to digest format with useful additional links to further reading and sources.

You can find the complete list on the CAA website. Well worth taking the time to read through them all. There are not only leaflets but some posters too.

Tip 9 – Talk to other pilots

Sounds silly but if, like me, you have to travel some distance to the airfield, none of your friends are pilots and you only ever see other pilots at the airfield, it’s very easy to rarely speak ‘planes’ at all! Like most pilots and more so, student pilots, I love talking planes. Especially when there’s the opportunity to learn.

I highly recommend taking advantage of any opportunity you have to learn from other pilots. Obviously, do your due diligence after, not all advice is good advice, but talking is good none the less. If you come across someone who has an interest in aviation have a chat and swap numbers. You never know, in the future there might be an opportunity to have a unique flight or cost share with someone.

The cafe is also a great place to chat, as well as fly-ins, social evenings and more. If you can, go to as many as possible.

Popham often does events, plus in the summer, we at Airbourne put on BBQs some Thursday evenings by the hangers. A great opportunity to chat, mingle and maybe get a cheeky evening flight in!

Tip 10 – Re-create lessons through drawings or notes

This one isn’t for everyone but I found it very useful. One of the ways in which some of us learn is through re-creation and repetition. As I was working through my studies I made digital presentations or digital notes along the way. I then printed these and laminated them making some great revision cards! Going that extra mile to help yourself learn can really make a difference.

Handmade flying study notes Handmade flying study notes

Disclaimer: This article was written for information only and was up to date at the time of writing. Please always ask a qualified instructor for more information and discuss airfield operations and the use of aircraft equipment with a suitably qualified person.