Hi! My name is Sonny Alblas, 19 years old and currently studying for my CPL/(f) ATPL license at CTC Aviation. At the moment I finished my ATPL ground school and will soon be starting with my flight training in Phoenix, Arizona.

Before I started my training as a commercial pilot I was in high school doing the Dutch variant of A-levels. All in all I spent six years in high school, this was also a period I became a more active member on IVAO. Having joined IVAO back in 2009, I was probably one of the youngest members around. The reason I joined was because I became more and more fascinated about the world of Aviation, and I wanted to know more about how everything works in a more operational perspective. Which I did over the course of the years. When I eventually started my flight training six months ago, I found that there are a lot of similarities, but also a lot of differences between IVAO and real-life. On an integrated course, ground school can be very though because all the knowledge of the 14 ATPL subjects needs to be in your head in 6 month’s time. This means a lot of revision. In a way, thanks to IVAO I found out I knew a little bit of everything, which really helped me save time and enabled me to focus on the stuff I hadn’t seen before.
In regards to the realism of IVAO as opposed to real life, on IVAO, you can decide how in-depth you want to go. In real-life, you just have to. Another difference is that on IVAO, big mistakes or the general handling of a certain failure, isn’t necessarily that big an issue, in real-life however, you are trained to cope with these situations and are expected to react accordingly. If not, there always is a chance of putting your career on the line.

As to the training itself, the theory is mostly done in classes, this means that you come in at 9 in the morning and leave at about 5 in the afternoon, when you get home, you make dinner and  the rest of the evening is spent revising what you have covered that day. This is a huge difference to IVAO, where you can entirely decide on your own what you want to learn or revise. You also have your own tempo in terms of training and doing exams. This is something you don’t have during ground school.

All in all, I’m having a great time, these past six months have been though, but thanks to the knowledge I got from IVAO I had already covered a lot before which made ground school just that bit easier. I’m looking forward to starting my flight training next month and seeing what’s going to be different from flying on IVAO.