After my ‘Discovery Flight’ and deciding that I wanted to pursue my Private Pilot License (PPL), I knew I needed to take Ground School as part of obtaining my PPL. Ground School teaches you the flight and aircraft operating procedures, aeronautical knowledge and information you need to pass the FAA knowledge test.
The airport that I took my first flight at did not offer Ground School and it was suggested that I find an IPAD App to use for studying. I checked out a couple of apps but had no idea what to look for much less what would be a good app as opposed to a not-so-good app. I am a visual, hands-on learner and I knew that if I was going to be successful that it was going to take more than an app to get me through this test. I really wanted a classroom enviornment and someone teaching it that I could interact with and have questions answered right there in front of me.
Back to Googling, this time for Ground School options. I was able to find out that some of the local community colleges offer a class if they have enough interest. The prices I found were around $200 but there is no guarantee that the class will have enough students. The one I found that was to begin during the summer semester was cancelled due to lack of interest when I called to enquire about signing up for the class.
There are on-line courses you can take as well. These probably work really well for people that are familiar with taking these kind of classes or that need something flexible. The cost is about the same as an instructor led class, although I saw some specials where it was actually 50% off for a limited time. My guess is, if you look around, you will find a special going on for one of them at any given time if this meets your needs.
I finally found an airport near my house www.wilgroveairport.net that was starting an instructor led class two weeks from the day I searched. The class was $275 but did not include books and tools (another $100). The class was scheduled for 1 day a week, 13 weeks, 3 hours each week. I was able to email the instructor and ask about signing up. He followed up and we set up a time for me to swing by the airport, check out the facilities and sign up for the class.
I was struck by the fact that this airport is only 15 minutes from my house. I have lived in this house for 13 years and never knew it was there. It’s tucked back off of the highway behind a bunch of trees but I can’t tell you how many times I have passed by that way over the years and never noticed it. I was pleasantly surprised to have a classroom option so close to me.
Take the time to do some research in your area and don’t be afraid to get a feel for the instructor and their teaching style. Ground School could be very boring if not taught by someone with the right personality. The pilot teaching my class has been flying for 49 years, has flown many different types of airplanes and was in the military. His knowledge and experience along with his passion about flying help make him an engaging instructor. I feel like I’m gaining a real understanding of what’s being taught. I know exactly what I need to study each week. It’s more than just studying to pass the test; he spends time going over things that will make you safe and confident when you fly.
Ground School isn’t the easiest class I’ve ever had; it’s like learning a foreign language if you haven’t been around aviation much. I can’t imagine trying to learn from an app, a computer or just a book. I’m sure that works well for some people but I know that it wouldn’t work for me. I knew I needed a face to face, ask questions, practical use kind of class for the way I learn best.
Check your options, local and on-line. Think about what works best for your personality, schedule and learning style before you decide which route to take. You can always change options if one doesn’t work well for you but you are committing time and money so don’t waste either and have to do it twice. Remember that you will need dedicated time to study, especially if you’re like me and completely new to aviation. It’s not easy, but someone once told me that if it was easy, then everybody would be doing it. Read, study, listen, repeat as necessary.
I found joining www.AOPA.org to be a good resourse for additional flight and safety training. I can view webinars and read articles that further help my understanding of flight training. This helps instill the lessons that I’m learning on the ground as well as in the air. As a student, you can sign up for free and gain access to a large library of information on the internet to help you as you progress during any stage of flying. I get an email every week with updates and informative articles that I can review at my leisure.