Navigation Continued…

Last night, Wednesday January 4, 2012 was my first Ground School class after the holidays. I was excited to return to class and a couple of hours before leaving I checked my email and saw that Mr. Whipple had sent us the following email:

Subject: Class Tonight

Hope all of you had a great holiday break and are having a great start to the New Year. Thank you for being patient with me and the wedding trip to Colorado. I am back and we will have class tonight (Wednesday) at 6 PM. We will continue where we left off with the Navigation unit. I will talk about the cross country you were to plan to International Falls and we will correct the take home practice test. Sander, I will be there early (5:30) to sign you off.

See you tonight.


It was the last sentence that caught my attention. Mr. Whipple was going to sign off Sander. Sander is a student studying with us and he’s from the Netherlands and is on contract work with the University of Minnesota for 2 years. He and I are usually very early for class and we’re either reviewing for the quiz or chatting before class begins. Signing off is the process that Mr. Whipple has to do for us to take the final FAA Knowledge Test. It is a note that he writes stating that the student concerned has taken the Ground School class and is now knowledgeable enough to take the FAA exam.

So when I arrived and walked in to the school building I saw Sander standing there at the counter with two other gentlemen on the other side seated at a computer conversing with him. We greeted one another and I asked if he was registering for the final test, and he said, “Yes I am”. Sander had mentioned to Mr. Whipple during class, when we were discussing if we should have a class over the holidays, that he wouldn’t be able to attend classes after the holidays as he was going on vacation to Hawaii, and we’re almost done with Ground School now. There are only three classes left. So this was the reason that Sander was taking the test now. “So you’ve been studying over the holidays?” I asked. Sander replied, “Yes and in addition to the Jeppesens’ Private Pilot FAA Airman Knowledge Test Guide, he had been taking practice tests online at“. This was a website Mr. Whipple had given us in our very first class which I had forgotten about. Just then Mr. Whipple walked in and said hello to us all and asked Sander what time he was taking his test. Sander said at 6.00 pm and a special invigilator had arrived from St. Paul for the test. Mr. Whipple signed him off and as he and I went upstairs to the class room, Mr. Whipple said, “Sander, please come and tell me how you do on the test when you’re done”. Since it’s a computerized test, you get to know the results immediately the test is over. Sander said, “Yes I will”, with a smile.

When we were in class, Mr. Whipple put his laptop bag on the table and another bag on the floor. He then began chatting and making the coffee for us all simultaneously. “Oh and I’ve brought some more new cookies!” he said smilingly. He proceeded to tell me about his son’s wedding went in Colorado and that he drove there when he should have flown his plane there since the weather was so lovely when he left and when he returned. His daughter attended the wedding from Vietnam, minus her very young children as it was a 26 hour flight! Just then Dr. Rehmann, another student and actually a qualified AME (Airman Medical Examiner) and Mr. Whipples’ General Practitioner walked in. He joined the conversation and laughingly said how he came to class on Monday and no one was here. Mr. Whipple and I laughed in unison. It was about 6pm now and nearly all the students had arrived and Mr. Whipple began by correcting the take home test he had given us. Then he proceeded to explain in detail the entire flight plan he had assigned us. This took a major part of the class when it wasn’t supposed to, but a number of students interrupted Mr. Whipple with questions. Around 7.30 pm Sander opened the classroom door and standing in the doorway said with a huge grin on his face, that he had gotten a staggering 98%!!! That meant that he only got one wrong out of 60 questions, and you need 70% to pass. Mr. Whipple was very pleased and said smilingly, “Why so high?!” I was dumbfounded and other students looked at each other in amazement. Having said that, Sander didn’t stay long and left. Mr. Whipple told him to keep in touch as Sander seemed eager to go home.

Mr. Whipple looked at his watch and said, “Oh I’m way behind. I better get a move on if I’m to cover Navigation”. Having finished with the flight plan review, he continued with the Navigation chapter. Mr. Whipple began by telling us what a VOR (Very High Frequency Omni-directional Range) was and pilots can use this in navigation. VOR’s are the most commonly used radio navigation system with more than 1000 stations in service in the US. In addition to VOR’s Mr. Whipple explained how to interpret information provided by VOR’s and how to use it in navigation. Again, this took considerable time and Mr. Whipple said he would have to finish off Navigation next week as the class had come to an end. He ended the class by saying that on Monday we would have a quiz on Navigation and then the following Wednesday the final Stage III exam which we would take in class. This would cover the entire Ground School Course. This would give us and Mr. Whipple an idea as to where we were in our knowledge and if we were ready to take the FAA Knowledge Test. So this week is going to be pretty busy for all of us. 😦


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