This is the second in a three-part series of articles by Textron Aviation’s Mindy Lindheim, following her through a recent Cessna Citation 525S type rating school experience. She offers a candid look at what to expect and how to relieve some of the anxiety around earning a type rating. Read Part 1 & Part 3.
Disclaimer: This series presents Mindy’s perspective. Another individual may have a different experience or outcome.
Over the course of my pilot career, I have done three different courses away from home: multi-engine, flight instructor, and now, the Cessna Citation 525S type rating school.
You may be lucky enough to live close to your training center and be faced with the option to either commute from home or grab a hotel nearby instead. Do not be tempted! I highly advise against commuting from your own home. Although that was not an option for me living in Atlanta and training at the FlightSafety International Learning Center in Tampa, Florida, I would have chosen the hotel route ten out of ten times.
It makes a huge difference to separate yourself from home-life, family, and friends and fully dedicate yourself to your training. I successfully passed my checkride on my first attempt at each of these courses, partly because I could focus on my training much more easily without home-life distractions.
Now that you are going to stay in a hotel, be strategic about your selection. You want to be close by and minimize your commute to the learning center, but I also recommend finding a hotel with a kitchenette.
Type rating school is long – often over two weeks straight. Eating out is fun and easy, but after a while, it becomes expensive and tiring. Sometimes, you’d rather make a sandwich and relax to a TV show in your socks at home than wait for a table and food at a restaurant.
The first thing I accomplished when arriving in town was a quick grocery shop. Nope, not necessary, but it felt good to have the fridge full. Before the fast-paced, time-intensive training began, I wanted to have my little home-away-from-home hotel suite stocked with a few of my favorite things.
I walked into day one so excited to finally get my hands on these super rad aircraft simulators I have heard so much about, only to realize that the entire first week was all ground school. This first week was brutal, to say the least, and I consumed more coffee than I would like to admit to keep my focus in the afternoons. All the ground school days for my course were full nine-hour days with a one-hour lunch break. I wrote notes all week long in a new notebook I brought along with me – something that helped keep me attentive – but also found that writing things out helped me memorize and process the information.
Upon arrival into class, they handed out hard copy versions of the school materials. Copies of these materials were in the electronic FlightBag, but the paper versions were nice for highlighting and taking notes. My ground school class had only four students. I liked having a small class, and that size seemed typical for FlightSafety. We had a few different ground instructors over these first six days, and I enjoyed learning from different teaching perspectives.
Each night after ground school, I reviewed my handwritten notes from the day and the relevant “Required Knowledge Areas,” or RKAs, from the topics we learned, and then I read as much as I could about the next day’s topics. This was the only time I ever read ahead, and often I didn’t finish reading the chapters before I felt burned out and called it quits for the day. Sometimes, the instructors didn’t stay 100% on the agenda for the next day, and we learned a different topic anyway, so I never stressed about not completing that reading. I did what I could and always made time for those flashcards I covered in Your First Type Rating, Part 1: Prep & Arrival! It is often encouraged to create peer study groups, but during this first week of ground school, I didn’t feel it was helpful to study with classmates and preferred to read on my own.
At the end of the ground school week, we took a written multiple-choice test. I felt very prepared for this test, and the majority of it was material from the RKAs and end-of-chapter quizzes. The test was easy for me, and I missed just one question (due to the silly mistake of reading it wrong). My classmates also only missed one or two questions.
Week one had officially come to a close, and I was more than ready to start flying the Cessna Citation M2. Stay tuned for my third and final article in this series, where I cover my week in the simulators and demystify the checkride.
Author bio: Mindy Lindheim is the Multimedia Communications Content Producer for Textron Aviation and is a rated factory demonstration pilot. Prior to attending type rating school, Mindy held her commercial single and multi-engine certificates with an instrument rating, as well as Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and Certified Flight Instructor Instrument certificates (CFII).