Not much was accomplished on vacation but it was good to decompress prior to diving into the unknown. Coming from zero aviation knowledge I had no idea what I was getting into! Also it had been 10+ years since college graduation and my study techniques were a bit rusty.
Slowly over the next 6 weeks I worked nonstop watching videos, filling two inches of notebooks with notes, and completing required labs and quizzes. Topics included aerodynamics, aircraft systems, charts and navigation, regulations (many many many), pilot procedures, Airspace and ATC, maintenance, paperwork, communications, and the list goes on.
There were many days Laura had to talk me off the ledge, keep me from giving up, convince me that I wasn’t too old to get all this down. The course required I complete all modules, pass the quizzes, and complete 3 practice simulated FAA Knowledge Exams with a score of 80% orbetter. The practice exams are a good idea! The test is 60 questions in 90 minutes but many of the questions are complex requiring reference to tables, calculations, and figures to arrive at the correct answer. Some of the charting/navigation and weight & balance
questions take as much as 10 minutes to complete each. The first exam I try rattles me; as soon as the clock starts I feel tremendous pressure and draw blanks. “Keep it together” I think to myself. By the last practice exam I am cool and relaxed.
6 weeks later: After completing the practice exams I am issued a completion certificate and the required endorsement that I have successfully completed an approve course. This endorsement must be given to the FAA testing center before being allowed to take the official exam.
But not so quick! On the advice of my CFI and the Internet I obtain this inch thick study guide: Private Pilot Airplane Knowledge Exam Guidebook. Basically it’s like the SAT practice books.
I spend two weeks going through it page by page, looking up the references in the manuals, handbooks, regulations, and circulars, and then taking the 5 simulated online exams that are supposed to replicate the actual FAA Exam. Bursting with knowledge I average 95% and have a hint of confidence.