Unofficial Guide to UK CAA Drone Licence Pilot Training

by Jose
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Hi, my name is Paul and I’ve just finished the three day intensive course with air down at prompt and less course for the unmanned aviation qualification and a past. I should say that I’m, not at all connected with air, and so this is an independent video and the reason I’m doing it is to try and simplify, I suppose, the process of getting to grips with.

Some of the course study material. So when you sign up with you every a you log into their web portal and you download five documents, which are the welcome pack, the course study manual, the quick reference handbook, the exam reference material and the skills test guide.

And if you were to perhaps open the exam reference material by mistake, first, you might just give up on the whole idea, because it’s. Quite a daunting package that so don ‘ T. Look at that one yet, but the most important document that you download and the one that you spend the most time with is the course study manual.

Now that I have to say, is it really well written an enjoyable read and it forms the basis of one of the exams? You have two exams on the course. You have a multiple choice, exam and you have a flight planning exam, and then you have a skills test.

So the course study manual forms the basis of the multiple choice exam at the end of day two and as I said it’s really. Well written, but these are a pile of ppl books. I started selling for a ppl and run out of money, but those are the books that I got and you know that’s.

It well that’s, just one subject and it’s, a weighty tome. The core study manual pray sees those into an easily digestible document. Now you have to read it. I read it first on a train trip from London to Leeds.

So what’s, that till house that’s? All it takes, and I’ve, read it probably four or five times before I attended the course bear in mind that the exam is an open book exam. So you can have that with you.

You can have the course studying manual open when you’re doing the exam, but the critical thing when you’ve, read it that many times and you’re familiar with the subjects in it. Is you know exactly where to go to look for the answers? I mean you know the answers, but you’re double-checking them.

So you have a multiple-choice question. You think, oh, I know the answer that I will just double-check it and you can find it instantly so that’s. One of the real benefits of reading the course study manual is that it enables you to know exactly where to find the answer to a question in your exam.

So take my advice. Yes, thank you so the course 30 minute it’s. A really easy to read document covers all the subjects you need to know about and within that. If I just show you here on my iPad, it’s very useful to have them on an iPad which you can refer.

You can dip it on any journey, just pop into a document. Those little boxes here this one here, the green boxes. They’re, called top tips now my top tip for the top tips, as they are top tips, anything that they say there as a top tip will probably come up in the exam and if it doesn’t come up in the Exam it’s, going to be really important, and should you could probably memorize it there aren’t that many of them, but when they say top tip it’s like a hint for the exam that you really need To know that bit of information, and then you can read around the subject very simply but memorize those top tips.

So perhaps the next document you’ll open up is a quick reference. Handbook that you might have first side think is a condensed version of the course study manual, but it’s, not in fact, when you open it up, you can see it’s.

Full of forms like this flight planning form three pages from there. There’s, a site assessment form and those checklists and emergency procedures and standard procedures and some copies of battery logs and you’re thinking.

I’m. Just a single operator, why would I why do I need all this to fill out all these forms? But here’s, a spoiler alert. Not only is there a whole exam on that and filling out the flight planning form, which last think an hour and a half.

It also forms the basis of your third test, which is the skills test, your examiner on day three, when he sees you flying your at least half of that exam is spent looking through the forms you, these flight planning forms and the site assessment forms.

So learning how to fill those in is takes up quite a long trunk of the course and the teachers are really good. They do take you through it in great detail, but if you can get your head around a couple of tools before you arrive in the course you ‘

Ll save yourself a lot of brain ache and obviously you ‘ Ll have done a lot of study with the core study manual, so you’ll, be familiar with aviation charts, so you ‘ Ve done a lot of the groundwork there, but if you can become familiar with a called sky demon light, which is an online flight planning tool and get really familiar with that before you arrive on the course you ‘

Ll save yourself a lot of grief and also Google Maps there’s. Facilities within Google Maps that I didn’t realize that you can measure distances within Google Maps and you can get coordinates. So, in summary, the when you’re looking at the quick reference handbook, it contains a site planning, form and a site assessment form and those learnings how to fill those in form the basis of your skills test and also there’s.

An exam on the site planning forum, so it’s, really important. You can do that and the useful skills to be able to do that are sky demon light, which is an aviation planning tool. So it gives you a patient charts containing airspace and airports and danger areas and areas of radio masts and tau everything you need is in there.

If you can get used to using that bit of software, it’s. All free you’ll, save yourself a bit of time and to get to the course and also understanding Google Maps, which is a surprisingly powerful tour.

I didn ‘ T really realize that you can measure distances in Google Maps and you’ll, be doing that all the time, because the site assessment, when you do a site assessment, you need to know how far you are away from the nearest house and you can Do that in Google Maps and also getting map references from Google Maps, you will be not required to do that and it’s, a really useful tool.

The guys on the course will go through all this, but I’m just giving you a heads up and speeding the process up. So the last thing I want to talk about really is the actual flight test, the skills test.

Sorry now, if you open up the skills test guide, they tell you the maneuvers. You need to be practicing and I bought my phantom here. You know six weeks ago and the only facts I’ve really done with it, are practicing that the critical thing is that you’re in a t mode.

So in other words, you ‘ Ve turned off the GPS. Apart from one very brief bit at the start of the test, where you fly it in GPS mode after that, it’s all in @ e mode, so the the the the this quadcopter in this case is still stable.

It still sits there. You know they’re relatively easy to fly. It’s, not gonna fall out of the sky. But what will happen is when, if there’s, a wind blowing, which there will be a wind blowing, it just wandered off and it can wander off in the direction, any direction that the wind feels like and just hit it.

So suddenly, what you think is quite stable and gets a gust and therefore gains and you think so it’s, different it’s. A different type of is a different way to fly and the fact it’s. Much more fun and you feel much more.

You get a much more great sense of satisfaction flying in a tea mode, but the critical thing is that whole skill test is done in a tivo’d, so don’t. Do any training with the GPS or turn the GPS off on your transmitter now on the next flight and go and practice the maneuvers that are on page, I can’t, see it from here anyway, if you page us into the skills test, I’d, go and practice the maneuvers you basically 550 meters, 20 meters up and you have to do a circle.

Then you have a few more very specific movies to complete many of us to complete and they’re, not difficult, but they’re quite a long way away with a small aircraft like this. It’s quite a long way away from you, so just getting used to the the orientation of just looking at their distances.

You certainly wouldn’t want to turn up having not having practiced that so doing many practice flights, as you can using the list of manoeuvres in the skills test guide and what struck us all on about the skills test was what we thought it Would be, I think, everybody think thought it would be a real test of your flying skills and in a way, obviously it is.

But I think the examiners really want to see that you’re, not a foolish dangerous pilot and that you can control the aircraft. They want to see that you’re, a safe, competent pilot. They’re, not expecting you to be a complete expert because they’re, assuming that you’re relatively new to the industry, so what they’re looking for is a safe flight and a relatively accurate one.

You can you can do the manoeuvres ours, they’re, not looking for you to be a genius. What they are looking for, you to do, they’re. Looking for a candidate to do is to show that paper trail. So it’s. The site planning forum is the site assessment, the flight planning forum, sorry, the site assessment form they want to see those filled in, and my top tip really is that you should behave on your skills test as if the examiner was a client who knew absolutely nothing About flying these things, so he’d, asked you to come along and film that building and he and when you’re explaining to the examiner but tenders to client, so go through everything that is relevant to the flight.

Why? You think you can do some things why you can’t. Do other things hazards you’ve. Seen everything talk through everything I’ve talked through in a very confident way. You ‘ Ve got to sell this to the to the example of it.

Imagine it’s. The client you ‘ Ve got to sell it. The client you don’t want a client thinking it doesn’t, really know what he’s. Doing is a bit hesitant, so just behave as if you really know what you’re, doing, which, of course, you will at the end of the course to something else.

That really shocked me about the course was the keeping of logs. Now I use the DJI app and it keeps logs. I also use healthy drones, which is a great and upload information to healthy trends and I print out reports, but the examiner wants to see you printing out a flight log.

So how long have you flown as pilot in command? How long was the aircraft flown? How, when are you going to replace the propellers? When are you going to replace the batteries? How much life is the battery got, how many cycles as the battery done? So it’s, a question of really taking it beyond the step of casual flying in monitoring.

How many you know, monitoring your batteries, monitoring the props logging, your hours and being really aware of the technical side of that and that forms part of a checklist. So you know, are we using batteries that have been fully charged? Have we tested here’s? The takeoff area save this, and there are the checklist to listed here but get used to using your checklist every time you fly it casually and obviously I’ve got time to go for everything here now.

I’m trying to make this as brief as possible, but another critical part of the skills test. Once again it’s, not actually fine, this, but it’s, a it’s. Critically. Important is briefing now as a single pilot.

I’m selling there. I’m gonna brief myself. Am I so I’m, not used to briefing so it was a bit of a challenge, but imagine you were with a client or imagine you with an observer who was helping you, but I think especially a client or somebody who’S not familiar with the process.

Briefing is really important. You can test it on a member of the family or take a friend with you practice briefing before you go on your foot skills test, because I was a bit. I was a bit uptight about that because it was first time I’ve ever really briefed.

Somebody so take take your kids out or something and brief them, and what I mean briefing I mean if you start flying, you say what happens. For instance, if I as a pilot collapse and the Phantom’s flying over there and it’s, a natty mode right, so you know if in Siberia, i briefed my observer, my examiner that there’s, the return to Home button – and I told him what will happen when you press it, so you press it and then describe the process so that if you knew nothing about it and I did collapse, then you’d, be the person with you would be happy and It would understand what’s happening and, of course, on your flight planning form you’ve, written down telephone numbers of hospitals and stations, and – and maybe you know landowners.

So if something happens then you ‘ Ve got that bit of paper that it ‘ S, got all the telephone numbers on it, so the person who’s left stranded in a field. While you’re having a convulsion knows exactly what to do.

And lastly, just lastly, it was very interesting how a lot of people turned up with iPads and a lot of people turned out with laptops, and I turned up with both typically and how it turned out was that the iPads are great for looking at the course Documents they’re great for taking on a train with you to flick through and revise, but on the day, because we have nine tabs open in our browser for flight planning.

And we were working for the left-hand tab to the right-hand tab. And there’s, quite a methodical process of how you go through that flight planning and the instructors go through all that with you, and it was so much easier on the laptop and it was really difficult on the iPad.

So what was odd to see was that people would be held back not by their lack of knowledge but by the and don’t. Get me wrong. I’m a fan of iPads, but when you’re using sky diamond light and you’re trying to do waypoints and it’s, just not intuitive on there, whereas, if you’re using A mouse or trackpad it is intuitive and having nine tabs opened was very easy and it was just so much easier when I was doing my exams.

I had my course study manual open on here, and you know what it was just quicker doing that to go through different pages to find out information, so I would definitely bring a laptop and leave the iPad at home.

Let me try and summarize and quickly number one course study manual. Read it as many times as you can it’s, a really enjoyable document. Well, I thought it was an interlocal document is well-written. It’s quite funny in places and it ‘

S forms the basis of very entire course, and then the quick reference manual in there is the flight planning forms and the site assessment forms get used to trying to fill those in by using with using sky beam and light and Google Maps and any other resources.

You can think of you know: weather tools there’s, a list of websites in the back of that manual. Fine use them all. You can work it out, but get if you can get used to using sky demon light before you arrive on the course you ‘

Ll have saved yourself a lot of grief and then for the skills test. More than half of that, the fly is only 20 minutes or less 15 minutes fine. I think they’re, assuming you can fly and you have to perform the maneuver so practice than maneuvers.

You know the not expecting perfection and they’re, not difficult maneuvers in there and that’s great fun. I spent a really good fun month doing that, so the majority of the skills test actually involves the examiner.

Looking at your your flight planning and your site assessment and your briefing so that they want to see that you’re safe and they want to see that you ‘ Ve got a paper trail and you ‘ Ve thought about your flight and you can justify everything about why your flight is dangerous or it isn’t to the examiner and you’ve and that’s.

What the course is about the course is about making you a safe pilot and on that skills, test testing your paper work skills is probably more than your flying skills, so I lastly bring a laptop, an all-nighter, so good luck and hope you do it.


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