Categories
Aviation

A Guide To Getting An A&P

My work experience prior to Baker’s

My father had a unique way to get me to learn about cars. He wouldn’t let me get my driver’s license until I learned how to work on cars. And what better way to achieve that than buy a Triumph TR7 that didn’t run. I remember the day it was TOWED to the house. There was to be no driving in my future until that car was fully repaired. Six months later, after a teardown of the engine to replace the head gasket, replacement of the transmission, the rear end, and the drive shaft. Keeping the Zenith Stromberg updraft crabs synced was an ongoing nightmare and DO NOT get me started on Lucas electrical system, which must have been conceived during a Welsh Demon Summoning ritual that went awry.

At the time all of that turmoil was going on, I was working for the local FBO, getting all of my civil time in for when I go get my A&P. At the same time I earned a 2 year degree in electronics and that helped greatly when it came to take the writtens, oral and practical.

But…. life happened. Those halcyon days of working on airplanes ended 25 years ago. I had my time in but I had forgotten a lot of what I had learned via on-the-job training.

When 2018 rolled around, I wanted to go back and finally get my A&P. I saw two ads for A&P prep schools in Trade-A-Plane. I always grab a copy of TAP whenever I can and one ad was always there; Baker’s School Of Aeronautics. I cut it out and saved it. I remember seeing this ad for YEARS in TAP. When I started asking around, Baker’s kept getting highly recommended, especially by a very good friend of mine that got his A&P from there. For me, his recommendation and the ARMY of other graduates that swear by Baker’s, my decision was finalized – Baker’s it is!

My Baker’s Prep

Since it was such a long time since I have wrenched on a certified aircraft, I went whole hog on training materials. I used the King Schools video course which was excellent for me because it actually shows what the questions are pertaining to visually. I get a lot out of visual presentation.

I also used the test prep apps from Dauntless Aviation. The flash card feature is excellent. The apps have excellent descriptions for those of use that need that visual of “how it works.”

For the King Schools video, I didn’t bother with the sample tests, I only watched the videos. Same with the apps, I only used the flash card feature. As the instructors at Baker’s will tell you, ONLY consume the correct answers. Recognize the correct answers and ignore the wrong ones.

List Of Things Not To Do Before You Arrive At Baker’s

  • Don’t take sample tests or random tests.
  • Don’t use the time before Baker’s to slack off – you study.
  • Don’t think this will be easy, it won’t be.

List Of Things Not To Do After You Arrive At Baker’s

  • Don’t go to Nashville – you study.
  • Don’t take weekends off – you study.
  • Don’t fart around after classes – you study.

The staff is there to help you succeed. They are a great bunch of people who are actually dedicated to getting you an A&P certification (don’t call it a license ffs). Don’t fear the DME’s they are very helpful and are not there to make you fail. 

Study Groups

Once you are into the oral and practical portion of the course, have your ass in a study group every night. EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. The act of asking each other questions is VITAL to succeeding with your orals. Nothing, no other study method can replace it. If you want to be the loner and study on your own, make sure you have the time off of work and the cash to stay a few extra weeks in Lebanon.

Money

No matter what you spend getting your certs, it will still be waaaay cheaper than a semester of college. That said, there are loads of ways to lower your costs before you get to Lebanon and while you are there.

Some hotels are more expensive than others. I stayed in both the Hampton Inn and the Holiday Inn Express and they both have their pros and cons. I can only speak about the other ones via word-of-mouth from my fellow students.

Hampton Inn

Pros

  • Nice accommodations
  • Big lobby to host study groups
  • Good breakfast
  • Free snack pack during the week (bottle of tea, granola bar, coffee cake and a piece of fruit.
  • Literally next door to the school so you might be able to do away with having a car.

Cons

  • It is the most expensive choice of the school’s recommended hotels.

Holiday Inn Express

Pros

  • Nice accommodations
  • Big lobby to host study groups
  • GREAT breakfast options – it has a CINNABON bar! 
  • It is very affordable

Cons

  • You will probably need to rent a car or budget for a lot of Uber rides.

Love Your Walmart

It will cost you a lot if you eat out for every meal. Go to Walmart and buy food that is easy to prepare with just a small refrigerator and microwave. One of my fellow students ate baloney sandwiches for his entire time there.

Aviation Museums

If you are fortunate to live near an aviation museum, do yourself a favor and get a season pass. I went damn near every week for three months to learn all I could about turbine engines. I took hundreds of reference photos and studied them for hours when I would get home. I never worked on one and had a lot to learn to get through the powerplant written test as well as the oral and practical.

My Tips

If you don’t have any knowledge about electricity or electronics, I suggest getting this, an electronic education kit (Amazon Link). It has 130 different experiments that will teach you everything you will need to know about the fundamentals that you will face on the writtens, the orals and the practicals. For only $35, it is a great deal.

If you are a turbine guy and are unfamiliar with the archaic technology called a carburetor, consider this Army educational film on YouTube. Here are some other helpful videos…

Above and beyond all of the above, there was one thing that made me successful and that was flash cards. Not the flash cards from a software app, but actual notecards.

When I got the Oral and Practical book from Baker’s, I took each question, copied it by hand on the front of a notecard and put the answer in my own words on the back. I did this for most of the book for the questions I didn’t know like the back of my hand. When I wasn’t in group, I was going through this stack of cards, read each card and tried to answer. Once I did, I flipped it over to see if I got it or not. I would then place the card in a pile and move on to the card.

I did this over and over and over. Once I knew the card by heart, I would place it in a different pile and then continue on with the pile that I still didn’t know. I repeated this until I was left with no cards in my hands. I then repeated this up until the day I took my orals.

DO NOT QUIT

Of my class, only three zipped through everything on the first try. Most failed something; a written, part of the oral or the practical – me included. The powerplant written was a particular struggle due to my unfamiliarity of turbine engines.

Doing the prep work that I have suggested BEFORE you get to Baker’s will help you find success. If you don’t do the prep work and don’t put in the insane hours required to succeed, you can’t blame Baker’s. You have to do your job before they can do their’s.

Conclusion

Baker’s has a damn fine program to get you your certificate – best in the nation. Listen to your instructors. Work your ass off and you will get there.