FAA Written Exam Preparation

Last night as I was going through my emails and deleting the unwanted ones, I came across an email from Twin Cities Aviation. I usually read these emails which are in the form of a Newsletter, but somehow I missed this one. So I opened it and started reading, and to my pleasant surprise, they were holding an 8 week ground school to prepare private pilot students for the FAA Written Exam and for Instrument Training also. The email was dated 11/03/2011, the class was commencing on 11/09/2011, and I was reading it on 11/08/2011. As I read further, I discovered that I still had one more week left to apply for the Ground School from the date I received the email. So I immediately wrote an email to the school as it was around 11.00 pm and they were closed. Early the next morning I logged on to see if I received a reply, and I hadn’t. So I called the school to inquire if the class was full, and I was informed that it wasn’t, but the organizer of the class wasn’t there and he would call me if I left my name and number. At around 1.10 pm I received a call from Twin Cities Aviation school and the gentleman told me that this class was for preparing students for the FAA written exam and there were two options. Option 1 was $350 plus tax and books were not included, and Option 2 was $650 plus tax and books were included i.e. the entire Private Pilot’s Kit. Further, half of the Option 2 cost would be refunded, if the student decided to learn to fly with Twin Cities Aviation.

I informed the gentleman that I was already taking flying lessons with Thunderbird Aviation in Crystal and that I already had the Private Pilot’s Kit. He then proceeded to ask me which books I had and if I had any DVD’s etc. I replied in the affirmative and stated that my books and DVD’s were from King Schools. I was then asked if I had the slide rule that helps in plotting the course of a flight, I said yes. “Okay, why don’t you bring your Private Pilot’s Kit tonight and I’ll see what extra, if anything, you might need. You already seem to have pretty much everything”, he replied.

Although my class was from 6.00 pm to 9.00 pm, I left home at around 4.40 pm to allow for rush hour and getting lost since I’ve never been to this school before. The school is in Blaine which is about 22 miles (approximately 30 minutes) from my home. I was glad that I left early as it was pretty crowded on the roads and I reached the school at 5.35 pm. I walked to the front desk and was immediately greeted with a “Howdy!”, no, the word Partner did not follow! 😀 The gentleman recognized the Private Pilot’s Bag I was carrying and said, “Oh you’ve brought the Kit”. He then went through the contents of the bag and suggested a Text Book, a Test Guide and a Record Folder. He also recommended the FAR (Federal Aviation Regulations) Handbook, but then said, “You can purchase that later, as you won’t need it immediately”. The total bill including course fees and taxes was $475.28. The text book itself, a hard cover, was $84.95. “Will that be Cash, Cheque or Credit?” asked the gentleman. I paid by cheque and once my receipt was printed off and the purchased goods were presented to me, I was escorted to my class room. I was led through an immense hangar containing several wonderful airplanes even a couple of Cirrus planes also. I noticed the Cirrus because I think it looks very beautiful and sleek.

Cirrus SR22 in the hangar at Twin Cities Aviation Ground School

We walked up a flight of stairs and there, in the room sitting on the chair was my instructor, to whom I was introduced. “Hello, my name is Dan Whipple”. The gentleman who brought me to the class room told Mr. Whipple, that I just registered, and then left. Mr. Whipple gave me a sign in sheet which required me to enter my home address and contact information. He then asked me if I was a student pilot or if I was going to take the examination first and then learn to fly later. I told him that I was already a student pilot at Thunderbird Aviation. He seemed pleasantly surprised and said, “Oh, I taught flying there for a good 30 years before moving out to Coon Rapids, and now I’m retired and just fly for fun, and teach these classes. Are they not teaching Ground School at Thunderbird?” “No they’re not, they have these King School books and DVD’s they want students to learn from and said they had a 95% success rate”, I said. “Well you really have to be dedicated to study that material at home. I’ve had many students in similar situations and they never finished them and it’s difficult to keep up with that method of study”, said Mr. Whipple. I agreed.

Books purchased for FAA Exam

Mr. Whipple is a tall man probably over six feet, with grey hair, a moustache, square-shaped spectacles and a baritone voice. He’s probably in his late fifties to early sixties and is a very nice and pleasant gentleman. He’s a high school teacher by profession and originally from South Dakota where he learned to fly in 1965 in a Piper Cub PA-18, was married in 1970 and has been teaching flying ever since.  He has 4500 hours of total flying time and has taught his four children to fly. “I’ve brought some coffee for all of us and there are some cookies, so please help yourself” he said, and as I got up to get my coffee and cookies, another student walked in.

There are 9 students in the class including myself but only 6 were present this evening. Mr. Whipple began class at 6.00 pm sharp, an indication that he was not going to wait if I ever decided to walk in late. He had a laptop and an overhead projector ready for teaching the class. His method of teaching is very laid back as it were, and he said, “If anyone has any questions, or you do not understand anything, just please stop me and ask. Don’t wait till I’ve finished or moved to another topic”. As he taught class, Mr. Whipple was full of humour and anecdotes from his younger days. For instance, he said that there was no radio communication when he learned to fly. There were no headphones so it was very noisy and now he couldn’t hear even with his hearing aids! 😀 I enjoyed the class very much and before we knew it was 8.40 pm and the last slide was finished with. Mr. Whipple said, “Well I’ve covered everything I wanted to and please don’t forget to read for the quiz and the chapters for the next class also. Any questions, comments or concerns?” No one said anything and Mr. Whipple said, “Okay, see you next week”, and with that I walked out of the class room, a very happy student (having made a good decision) and looking forward to my next class. 😀


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