Apr 152013

As some of you may be aware there has been an update to the Bronze exam and the question bank.  Speaking to the very helpful Mike Fox at the BGA my understanding of the situation is as follows:

The new question bank has been developed to comply with the new EASA regulations.  Two key elements of this are that the question bank needed to be a minimum of 120 questions and that the exam needed to be split into 9 different areas (as opposed to the previous 7).  The BGA has now developed the new questions and arranged them into the new sections.  Each exam paper will now consist of a number of questions randomly taken from each section and formed into one paper.  The 9 new subject areas are:

  • Air Law and ATC Procedures
  • Human Performance
  • Meteorology
  • Communications
  • Principles Of Flight – Sailplane
  • Operational Procedures – Sailplane
  • Flight Performance and Planning – Sailplane
  • Aircraft General Knowledge, Airframe and Systems and Emergency Equipment – Sailplane
  • Navigation – Sailplane

To conform with CAA/EASA rules the new exam questions will not be publically available.  As with the present PPL/NPPL exam papers each student will be issued with the exam paper which will then be returned (along with all notes and other workings out, if I remember correctly from my own NPPL exams) at the end of the examination.  So, if anyone claims to have a copy of the new exam questions then I would suggest that you inform your CFI and the BGA as they will probably be very interested to find out where they got them!

So, where does that leave GlidingSchool.com and is it still a useful resource for Bronze students?

I think the answer to that question is yes, GlidingSchool.com is still a useful resource albeit in the short term a little less so than previously.  Let me explain.

Speaking with the BGA they were (naturally) unwilling to give me the new questions but did indicate that while the majority of the questions had been re-written they were still very similar to the ones presently on this site (although now in the 9 separate subject areas as explained above).  There is, after all, only a limited number of ways that you can ask a question about the minimum age to go solo!  As a result, if you’re doing the learning and are able to answer the questions on the site then the ones in your live paper shouldn’t be overly dissimilar and shouldn’t cause you any issues.  But the site now needs to have some work done on it to bring it up to scratch with the new system.

From my perspective, I now have two key actions I need to take to keep the website valuable as a training aid:

First, as the questions on GlidingSchool.com are still in the old section headings I need to go through them and re-arrange them into the appropriate new heading areas.

I will then sit down and review the old question bank, review the EASA exam guidance and develop new questions that reflect (as closely as possible) the new requirements.  Once I’ve done that I will see if the BGA would be willing to review them as a ‘check and balance’ to confirm they’re appropriate.  I’d be delighted if they did help out but equally I understand that they’re already busy so may not be able to so, so no promises from either side on that one.

One other thing I’m considering is the development of some online e-learning to cover some/all of the exam subject areas.  To my knowledge there isn’t anything out there at the moment that covers these subjects in such a fashion.  That usually means on of two things – there isn’t a call for it or no-one has been bothered to do it yet.  If (and it’s a big if) I do go down the e-learning road it’s likely to be some time before anything appears and there’s a strong likelihood that it may be a premium (ie paid membership) service beyond the main site as it will take significant time, effort and additional software purchase to achieve it.

In summary, please keep using the site as I think you will gain benefit from the practice when you come to sit your exam, but do be aware that the questions will probably differ slightly from what you have revised.

Also, I’d appreciate any feedback from people as to whether they think some online e-learning would be useful and if so, would they be willing to pay a small membership fee for it.  (I stress again, this is only a potential long term idea and that my short term focus will be on the question updates).


Sep 162012

There comes a time in every glider pilot’s life when he or she realises that it’s time to go technical and take advantage of the various electronic aids that can help make your flying more enjoyable and efficient.  Very often this coincides with completing your Bronze exams/Cross-country endorsement and that feeling of spreading your wings and moving on to more adventurous and longer flights away from your home airfield.

I’ve been using a Hewlett-Packard PDA up until now but I’ve always felt it was a compromise – screen too small and not particularly bright in a sunny cockpit.  Plus, to me, it’s bodging an old system to make it fit a task it wasn’t really meant for.  The only thing that has stopped me moving on to something more modern was the price.

Now, however, there is an option that fits my technical and price criteria – GliderGuider.  GliderGuider has been developed by a chap called Allan Arthurs who, apart from being a glider pilot and instructor, is a bit of a technical wizard.  He has used his various skills and knowledge areas to come up with what is undoubtedly the most flexible and useable portable glider navigation system available today.

Photo showing how much brighter the GliderGuider is compared to a PDA

The specifications of the GliderGuider are absolutely ideal:

  • 5-inch screen – big enough to see properly but small enough not to be intrusive in a glider cockpit;
  • Seriously bright – the brightness of the screen is truly impressive and puts a PDA to shame;
  • Flexible – GliderGuider will run all Windows Mobile gliding programs, including See You Mobile, LK8000 and XCSoar.  Plus, if you’re a power pilot (or just use it because it’s a fantastic program) SkyDemon and Memory Map.
  • Technical – Allan has spent a lot of time working on the software of GliderGuider to make sure that it works properly for the glider pilot and has put a lot of thought into the specification side of things too.  It will work with pretty much any input/output device you can throw at it and he has done numerous tests to ensure that accuracy and functionality are correct.
  • Price – at £240 (plus shipping) you really can’t argue!

In addition to all that, he will configure the whole thing to your requirements!

As you may have guessed, I’m sold on this new device but don’t take my word for it – go and have a look for yourself at GliderGuider.net.

(And before you ask – no, I’m not being paid to write this!)

 Posted by at 11:05 am