Indigo zulu zulu yankee at departure point (Part 2)

11 January 2017:

The day before the assessment I revived a little.  When you spot yourself in the mirror with two huge black rimmed panda eyes you know you’re in trouble.  That morning I got up and did my last bout of pilot aptitude practise tests.  I then followed this up with a fifteen minute cycle on the trainer, and I felt it, I was exhausted.  Dad collected me an hour later and I was being chauffeured to the airport to catch my flight down to Southampton, where CTC Aviation’s selection team are based.  The flight down was pretty uneventful and we even arrived thirty minutes early.  I had been lucky, I was to miss the British Airways cabin strike, the South West train service strike and the London tube strike. So much for happy new year, huh!?

Reaching the correct campus, there are different ones for different purposes,

I informed the lovely receptionist, A, that I was here to check in.  She then informed me that yes she was expecting me, tomorrow.

Then the phone rang and she went to answer it as I checked my confirmation email on my phone.  #$¥{~”#!  I had indeed booked the wrong night.  Finished answering the phone, A asked me if I had a confirmation email.  I then had the unsavory task of informing her and myself what an idiot I am, and the school was fully booked that evening so A could not offer me accommodation at the school.  She did however ring a guest house nearby and assured me it’s a lovely place to stay as other students in the past have stayed there.  Luckily Dale Farm Guest House had two rooms left.  I took it, and later was informed by the lady looking after the Guest House that I was lucky as the last remaining room had also been taken by another CTC guest.

Before I took a taxi from Southampton airport to the school campus I had wondered if I should wander around the city first as it was still early and the campus is situated in the neighbouring town in a remote area with nothing around it.  Having been there before I knew that once I arrived I would be stuck.  Looking back luckily I decided I would just head over to the campus anyway and try chill in my room for the remainder of the day as one, I may not have found alternative accommodation for the evening due to my error, and two the guest house was actually a large house on a farm so is was surrounded by a lovely large garden, fields with horses and just large open space.  So I was able to walk around a bit to expend any energy and adrenaline I had left which was putting me on edge.  The room itself was homey, with access to dining facilities and a small lounge, though each room had a tv too.  Running to the supermarket to grab some dinner before the last of the daylight faded completely, I came back and settled in for the night.  I was fine in the early evening, so relaxed I was falling to near sleep to the chilled mix I was playing via Youtube while sitting in the rocking chair, which was also in the room.

But as night drew longer so did the pace of my beating heart quicken.  By midnight I was still lying in the beautifully soft queen bed listening to my fast and violently beating heart.  I have not heard my heart beat that loud in a long time.  Unable to sleep I got up and made myself a cup of tea.  Well two actually.  Then it hit me, I had even forgotten to brush my teeth before I left home this morning too!

Eventually managing to fall asleep in the very early hours.  I was thankful that it was just as well that my reassessment did not start until later and so I didn’t need to be at the school until 10.15am, which gave me a little more time to rest.  I was surprisingly OK that morning actually.  Alright, so I did not have the appetite to eat and I was a little nervous, but nothing was overly dramatic.

As I got the taxi up the road and entered the school reception area again, I greeted A with a good morning followed by,

“I can see my name badge on the table here…  Well, that’s a good start.”

After some more pleasantries I showed myself to the large lounge area and waited while my colleagues who are also being assessed that day to finish their first bout of assessment. I would then join them on the second part of it.  I was informed that the day was running late so I ended up waiting for just over an hour before my day finally started. By that point restlessness (boredom) had completely replaced my nerves.

I also found out that there are actually only two other people being assessed for the Wings course today; applying for thr same course as me as everyone else there was being assessed for a different course.  Of the eight others being assessed for the other course, six of them were also returners; their second attempt.  As both candidates and CTC staff themselves have confirmed, the reassessment rate for this school is very high.  From personal experience I am not surprised as I was certainly stunned after my first attempt at the standard of testing.  Especially compared to mant flight schools who don’t even have an entrance exam. 

So the three of us were shown into the computing room as we were to sit the PILAPT (pilot aptitude) tests.  As I sat and went through all five tests again, again my heart began to punch out of my chest.  V would later comment that at least it showed I was healthy as otherwise I would have had a heart attack, however my blood pressure is probably very high right now.  Thanks V, this is what friends are for, brutal truth, no holding back there!  Sitting the test the second time around, yes it made it easier in at least I am to know what is expected, but upon completion I was still not sure if I did any better this time around either.  As a candidate we are never told our statistical scores, nor what the selection team are looking for from the results.  Thus none of us are sure where the benchmark is nor what the selection team are looking for.  The only things we are told is whether we passed or failed, followed by constructive feedback.

As I left the computing room my hands still continued to shake as my inner earthquake insisted on remaining on tremor mode.  Though I still did not have much of an appetite, with the afternoon interview still to go I needed to eat.

 Standing in front of the coffee machine in the canteen, A, spots me in the canteen and moves over to ask me how it went.  I lifted my trembling hand in reply and she gave me a big hug…  Then asked whether I should still be drinking coffee as the machine continued to beep and pour my drink.

This action by A is one of the major factors of why I chose CTC Aviation.  A’s affection is actually the culture nurtured there at the school.  Everyone there is so friendly and they want you to succeed so that they can welcome you into their school.  Of course as the candidate we still had to make that happen ourselves.

After lunch I had to wait over an hour again for my interview.  With two interviewees, and because reassessing candidates always go last, I had to wait for my two other colleague candidates to finish.  I am not sure if that was a good or a bad thing but again, because I ended up waiting for so long, any nerves left in me fast dissipated by the time I was called into the room.

Like the PILAPT tests, after the interview I was not sure how I did as the questions asked were slightly different from last time, and 90% of the material I had prepared was not used.  Damn it!  Despite that I left the room with a final declaration of, “CTC is where I want to be” and left knowing that whatever the result I did all I could have done, no regrets.

I asked A if it was possible to book me a taxi to the train station as I would now head into London to see V before heading home the next day from London.  A informed me that there was an accident on the main road and that there are delays and a diversion in place.  OK, now that the assessment is finished I was not in such a rush, so as I waited for the taxi I also changed out of my formal wear and back into my casuals.

The taxi driver walked through the front door thirty minutes later, faster than the minimum forty five minutes wait that every other taxi company had quoted, proclaiming,

“don’t worry A, I’ll get your girl to the train station in time, don’t you worry!”

A: “With the last 48 hours Izzy has had, this is nothing”

I burst out laughing, thanked A and got in the taxi, where we ended up covering sexism, racism, prejudism and family in our forty, probably nearer fifty minute road diversion drive to the train station.  The only thing we did not cover was ageism as the friendly and hilarious driver talked about his wife being from Perth (Scottish), one son married to a Jew and the other to a German Arab.  He has Welsh family and questioned why his wife did not continue going further South to the Isle of Wight since she was moving to England anyway.  This was after I commented on whether his wife could have moved any further South in England (as Southampton is literally on the flat bit at the very bottom of the British mainland).  I was so schooled.

Sitting on the train to London I fell into deep sleep.  I had not slept well for a week now.  I was awoken by my vibrating phone, text message received.  British Airways (BA) was informing me that my flight home tomorrow had been cancelled, great!  I was not even in London yet.

I arrived into London about six thirty in the evening as it was an approximate one and a half hour (South West) train journey from Southampton.  Then I caught the tube to the restaurant to meet V.  So you see, I missed the BA cabin crew strike as the cancellation was due to snow being forecasted, which then restricted the number of flights Heathrow is allowed to take off that day; the South West train strike and the tube strike.  Only to blight myself with booking the wrong day for my overnight stay in Southampton, and of all the domestic flights back to Edinburgh tomorrow, BA had to cancel one flight, mine!  Of course not forgetting the road accident on the main road outside the school campus either!  This was certainly turning out to be a very tumultuous 48 hours indeed.

That evening though the food was great and V and I even went for matcha ice cream after, even though my appetite had yet to return and I was exhausted.  V tried her best to kick me out of it but I was depleted of energy.  At least now with a rearranged flight home, which was an hour later than my original one, I could at least see V for lunch as well before heading to the airport tomorrow. We said goodnight and parted ways till the next day as I headed to the youth hostel ten minutes walk along the road.

As predicted I was to have an equally restless night.  This time my head pounded as my brain became the overheated car engine that had run out of coolant.  Thoughts of the reassessment just would not stop running through my head….






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