Home: L3 Commercial Training Solutions

12 Degrees of ATPL Ground School - Lee Biswell

Date: 3 October 2018

Hello everybody, my name is Lee and I am one of the cadets in module 3 of ground school, at the Southampton training centre. I consider myself very lucky to be chasing a dream I’ve had for almost 20 years, going through a process which has resulted in not only learning a lot about this new, fascinating industry I am entering, but also about myself.


One dream. One goal. That’s something all of my friends in my CP and throughout L3 share; the common goal of becoming a commercial pilot. Everybody has come from different parts of the world, different backgrounds and had different experiences before their time at L3, but it was amazing to see how quickly we bonded as a group to form a group of friends I hope to have for life.


Two weddings. With the intense nature of ground school, it’s sometimes hard to forget about life outside of your studies. For me, this reminder has come in the form of two weddings that I’ve travelled back home to attend. Despite worrying and even feeling guilty for not studying on a Saturday, these were well worth the time out, as I was there for my friends and had a much needed break from the intense nature of the studying.


Three modules of ground school. The most challenging 6 months of my life to date. It’s been hard work, has its ups and downs, but the time really does fly by. Before you know it you are in the last module of ground school, a couple of weeks away from your school final exams and then the last set of ground school exams. With hard work and the support on offer, you can get through it!


Four walls of my room. Covered in notes. Busy, colourful and at times, overwhelming! We currently stay in halls of residence, a short walk from the centre of Southampton. This was quite the change for me, having lived alone for almost 5 years before I started at L3, but being in the same block as other pilots, all at different stages of their training made the transition a lot easier.


Five days of lessons per week (normally). A typical week of lessons runs from Monday to Friday, which are crammed full of a mixture of lessons, everything from meteorology to aircraft general knowledge. The lessons are fast paced, involving and interesting. The instructors have a wealth of experience and knowledge in their topics and provide not only useful insight into the exams but also the wider aviation industry.


Six rooms in my flat. We live with other cadets at different stages of training. There is a mix of ground school cadets and cadets in the IR phase of training. They carried out their foundation flying training in New Zealand and it’s a great motivator to hear their stories remind me there is a world after ground school!




Seven days of the week. Time really does go flying by during ground school. You spend Monday to Friday in lessons and that’s another week gone before you know it! Some of the cadets play football on a Friday evening at a local 5 aside pitch. This is a great chance to blow off some steam and catch up with other cadets from other CPs. Saturdays and Sundays for me are for a mix of the weekly food shop, laundry and revision. Whilst there is a lot of work to do I equally feel it’s important to take time away from the books, if that’s watching a film, going to the gym or going out for a meal with friends.


Eight weeks per module. When you start, 8 weeks away from exams seems an age, but next thing you know it you’re walking up the stairs to the exam room to sit your next batch of ground school exams. It’s amazing how quickly the time goes and how much you can take in during such a compact period of time.


Nine months of preparation. It took 9 months of preparation to go to some open days, complete my application to the course, medical, selection and secure finance before I could give my notice in to my old employer and officially say I was going to start my training to become an airline pilot. It feels like a long process, but stick at it. Your first flight event is just round the corner.


Ten years since I left school. I never thought I would be back in the classroom, let alone needing to recall some of the “useless” maths I was taught all those years ago! I almost had to learn how to learn, which study methods work and which don’t. There’s support on offer at L3 to help with study methods and the best way to get the best results out of your time at ground school.


Eleven was the age I knew I wanted to become an airline pilot. I was fortunate enough to be allowed into the flight deck on the way home from a family holiday and remember being in awe of the two people operating this massive machine. All of the screens, the dials and the buttons. Years later and here I am, learning about those same screens, dials and buttons!


Twelve months left. It seems a long time - a year, a whole year! But from speaking to friends who are further ahead in their training than I am, it’s going to be a busy twelve months, transitioning from zero hour cadet pilot to fully qualified professional pilot. Something that feels so close now but is still a challenging, daunting and exciting prospect.


All of the numbers point toward one thing. Achieving your goals and dreams. There’s a huge amount of information out there, but I would say take that first step and come to an open day, meet the people involved and see where it takes you.


- Lee