ABOVE: Alex Whittingham (right) was a RAF Tristar pilot before founding BGS

ATPL training provider Bristol Groundschool (BGS), celebrated its 30th anniversary in October. BGS says it was the first distance learning school to offer computer-based training, and also to put together and publish a question bank for the EASA exams (initially called JAA). They were also the first school in the UK to obtain EASA and UK CAA approvals and the first EASA exam centre in the UK, in partnership with AustroControl – the Austrian Aviation Authority.

BGS was founded by ex-RAF Tristar pilot Alex Whittingham, who left the RAF after he lost his medical in 1990 and started a career in ground training. After working as the Chief Ground Instructor of a number of pilot training schools, Alex started on his own, delivering exam revision courses, particularly for aircraft performance. After writing his own training manuals he was able to expand to work with a number of flight schools to deliver ATPL and CPL theory.

By 1993, he had settled into a long-term partnership with Bristol Flying Centre. The name of the ground school training evolved into Bristol Groundschool, or BGS for short. As Bristol Airport expanded, the company moved first to Cheddar in 2005 and then to its present premises in Clevedon in 2014.