Hi all, another question about grading I'm afraid. I have done a search on the subject and have found:

Unfortunately, my question is slightly different so any advice that can be given would be appreciated. My position is that I have a place at RMAS for January and a place on a grading course in the autumn. I do not however have any flying experience, or knowledge for that matter, whatsoever! Is it worth getting some beforehand or is it best to arrive as a completely blank page? I notice from one of the above threads that it may be recommended to undertake a gliding course - is this the case? As I said beforehand, my knowledge is non-existent so is it recommended to learn about the instruments and theory of flight beforehand or is this taught on the course!?

Additionally, is there anything else that would be beneficial in practising, e.g. maths exercises? Is there anything beyond s/t/d calcs that I should know about or practice?

Thank you all in advance and although the questions may seem a tad silly and low-level, they are not waahs!
Its not always a drawback to have no flying experience, it may actually be a positive point. Grading is designed to see if you can learn in the 3d dimension, simple as that.

A prior knowledge of what the basic flying instruments do is handy. I suggest getting a PC flight simulator such as MS FS2004 and the like. If you can get on a gliding course, that would help as it at least gets you in the air and enables you to interpret instruments and how they interact with each other. As for maths, brush up on mental arithmetic. Anything that exercises your brain really.

You'll find on grading it’s mostly 'monkey see, monkey do' as opposed to full instruction. The instructor will for example show you how to perform a level turn. He will point out what power setting you require and what visual cues you need to look out for. He will give you a go at it and you try and replicate it. A few sorties on, he will ask you to perform the level turn again and it’s a case of recall. All they are looking for is an improvement each sortie so at the end you have an increasing curve on the graph. Best to start off a mong and finish up slightly better rather than be a Douglas Bader at the beginning.

Quite often a keen and eager attitude will win over a lack of ability. Ive known of people who have held PPLs and bombed grading because they think they know it all. If you show you have the ability to learn in a different environment and dont get flustered if you get it wrong, it helps.
The Lord Flasheart said:
rather than be a Douglas Bader at the beginning.
They amputate your legs at the end of the course now?
I have to agree with what Flash says - Grading isn't meant to be that complicated and the more you can 'just enjoy it' the better you'll do. They're not looking for an 'instant pilot' but more for someone who can learn.

I know its easy for other people to tell you to 'just enjoy it' - and perhaps it doesn't seem like the best advice from where you're sat - but its meant to be positive.

Agree completely with the 'keen and eager' bit, too.

I'd be more worried about RMAS to be honest!

Good luck,

listen very carefully to the welcome talk they give you, and take notes. they will tell you exactly what they are looking for - things like progress, flying aptitude, affinity with the aircraft, enthusiasm for flying, dedication / commitment.

some things you can't do much about - flying aptitude and progress. dedication is shown by learning your checks as quickly and as well as possible - which will also endear you to your instructor, as he doesn't get quite so bored of you stumbling through them day after day.

affinity for the aircraft - as well as "sympathetic handling" - can include such things as trying not to snap off the antennae on your walkround. and enthusiasm is easily demonstrated - just make sure that on every trip you smile and say things like "i can't believe i am getting paid to do this" or "wow, look at that view" or "cool! a cloud!" :)
Following on and having perused the thread about the future of AAC Officers, may I ask about the career path of an AAC Officer? Once you are, as it were 'winged-up' and an operational pilot - where does it go from there?

I understand that Officers are more in the role of commanding the aircraft and operating the weapons systems and that OR on the whole make up the pilot contingent but is there a point where Officers no longer fly (other than minimal hours)? If so, what do they do? I can imagine that some go on to be OCs of flights / groundstaff / training regs etc or even Staff College and the like but is it that the numbers retained are sufficiently occupied by these roles or do some leave the AAC and if so to where? Are there roles in other corps where the specific skills can be utilised, perhaps a FOO in the RA for example?

Additionally, is it possible to transfer out of the AAC to other roles? Is this generally frowned upon? Where do they go to in general?

Sorry, looking back there are quite a few question marks in there! Any advice on the above would be appreciated if you can pick the wheat from the chaff!
Mess_Romantic said:
Thanks C_R, would it therefore be benefical to have a basic understanding of checks etc before attending?
yeah, if you could get hold of a set of Flight Reference Cards (FRCs) for a Slingsby Firefly (T67M - don't know if they are using 160s or 260s nowadays - suspect it is still 160s for grading). they won't mean anything to you though, and it would just be "parrot fashion" learning.

when you get to grading they will give you a "cardboard cockpit" on which you can learn which dials etc are where. until then, learning to parrot the checklists may be of limited use.

just dug out this link for you

scroll down a couple of pages and the helpful chap has scanned in FRCs for the firefly ("normal" and "emergency"). perhaps somebody more current on it than myself can tell you if they are up to date?

ignore the "external checks" pages - far easier to learn from your instructor.

so you've seen the scale of the basic checks you will be expected to memorise. sh*tting bricks yet? ;)

if you want a start point, you might want to learn the sequence of the FIRADE and HASELL checks. don't really require the cockpit layout to get them down pat.

if anybody from grading / barkston knows that this version of the FRCs is cr@p, please feel free to rip me to shreds.
Wow thanks CR! As for being daunted, there's no worries as I have a photographic memory! Only joking, they look pretty heavy going - do you have to know this kind of stuff off the top of your head? Also, how does it compare to a helicopter? Is it leagues below in terms of difficulty?
Mess_Romantic said:
Wow thanks CR! As for being daunted, there's no worries as I have a photographic memory! Only joking, they look pretty heavy going - do you have to know this kind of stuff off the top of your head? Also, how does it compare to a helicopter? Is it leagues below in terms of difficulty?
You dont have to know them off by heart at the grading stage but if you have a basic concept of them and what the checks are it will really free up capacity. Thats one of the things they look for not only on grading but on the course proper; capacity. If you can square aware some of the checks before hand, it means you can concentrate on the mechanics of flying. Beleive me, in the early stages, just trying to fly straight and level will sap almost all of your capacity. Fixed wing is a great platform to build basic airmanship.

The reason why we do grading on fixed wing is because it is an easy platform to assess how much potential a student has in a short period of time. The actual flying of a fixed wing is pretty simple compared to a helicopter. A fixed wing will pretty much carry on where you pointed it where as a helicopter tries its hardest to throw itself out of the sky if you ignore it!
I went in pretty cold, but gave it my all when I got there. Enjoy the first flight and just soak it all up. Then hangar fly your backside off, draw diagrams to visualise the circuits and make chalky marks on the hangar floor. Do check after check after check in the cockpit in between uckers in the tea boat.

That way you'll show the curve that they are after and if you fail, you'll know you gave it the best possible bash. Good luck!
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