While postponed by the Covid restrictions, I was eventually able to schedule a slot at Baker’s School of Aeronautics. Steve and I braved airline travel to Nashville, TN, was able to visit with our good friends there and I began class to prepare for my A&P knowledge, oral and practical tests.
The 3 ways to take the tests are similar to pilot testing-have military equivalent, go through a 2 year school or show 30 months of training with an A&P supervising your work. I was able to document the 30 months to the FSDO and was signed off to proceed to the testing.
The first week at Baker’s is preparing for the 3 knowledge tests. First Airframes, then General and finally Powerplants. It’s done in this order because PP is typically the most difficult and passing the first two allows an applicant to continue to the Oral and Practical and get an A license and come back for the P license. There is a question bank and a practice test. Passing the practice test determines if you proceed to the actual test or need more training. I passed all 3 tests on the first try, finished the last one Saturday morning and had Sunday off (to watch the Navy-Army Game).
I mentioned the 3 ways to get to the testing and I was fortunate to come together with other more “mature” applicants with experimental backgrounds. The second week brought two more individuals to our study group. The study group was key because we needed to practice for the Oral part of the exam. With experimental experience, I had more experience than I thought but still learned a LOT from the discussion with the group. We also had a ringer in the person of Heidi! She was actually working as a mechanic and clarified finer points. But I get ahead of the story because all the Oral practice is done after hours.
The 2nd week at Baker’s is preparation for the Orals and Practicals. After a brief introduction, we are taken to the workshop and shown some of the more common projects then released to attempt them or work on the Orals. I was told my exam would be on Saturday but was moved up to Friday when a position opened up.
I was nervous on whatever came next that I wasn’t working on. In the workshop, I felt I should be working on the Orals; at night, I wanted to retry something from the workshop. Of our group of 5, 2 went on Thursday, 2 on Friday and one on Saturday. We all passed but Heidi had the worst test the examiners had ever given.
The reason the A&P rating is the hardest I’ve every taken is because the test is long, randomly generated and very difficult to study for everything. There are 44 sections; the FAA generates 7 questions for each section. The examiner asks any 4, you have to get 3 correct to go to the next section. If not, you have to answer the remaining 3 or you fail the Orals. I passed the Orals and began the Practicals, also randomly generated. The whole process started at 6 am and I finished at 12:45.