Ground School Time & Cost

Ground School is an interesting term. There are three types of ground school so we will cover them here to understand. “Ground School” has evolved in aviation over the years to be ‘studying to pass the FAA knowledge test’. As far as the typical “Ground School” packages sold by the top providers, nothing is further from the TRUTH. With all the popular “ground schools” from the leading publishers, these are designed to get you through your FAA knowledge test. But it is only the tip of the iceberg. I work and help design knowledge test prep materials called “ground school”, and the objective is to teach you the information to get you through the knowledge test questions as simply and easily as possible. An instructor is required to teach you the aeronautical knowledge to be a pilot, which is FAR above the FAA knowledge test. Understanding the important things that keep you safe and flying confidently are the first and most important things you should learn in GROUND SCHOOL.

Unfortunately, this most important knowledge is not taught for the classical “knowledge test prep” ground school.

For the FAA Knowledge Test, you are given most of the questions and answers. You can simply memorize them and successfully pass the ” FAA written” without understanding the aeronautical knowledge. This test is simple and easy.

Following is a description of all the ground school required to be a safe and confident pilot.

What is Ground School?

“Ground School” is actually three specific areas of knowledge:

  1. Learning the flight and aircraft operation procedures, the most fun part of ground school. This is the “flying” aspect of ground school.
  2. Learning the aeronautical knowledge (weather, sectionals, cross country, etc.). This is also an interesting part of ground school that is used to become a safe pilot.
  3. Learning the questions and answers to the FAA Questions to pass the knowledge test. This is the least interesting and sometimes the scariest. It requires unnecessary time spent and additional memory recall required. However, it does teach some of the basics of the above two “ground schools” so it is a good “standard” everyone can get through.

Yes, some of the information for items 1 and 2 above are in 3, the FAA knowledge test prep, but the knowledge test prep is only 30% of the total ground school that you need to learn.

Note that the “knowledge test prep” ground school is required, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be at the beginning of flight training, or the other areas of ground school. The FAA Knowledge test is simply some measure of the applicant’s ability to remember some of the important concepts, plus the regulations.

It is much more efficient and cost-effective, if you can learn the fun and most important stuff first (items 1 and 2 above) on the ground…in “Ground School”, rather than using the cockpit as the classroom. You are paying 2 to 4 times more for learning the knowledge in the cockpit than you would for the same knowledge learned in the classroom/on-line. Do not worry, all the fun ground school builds towards the final phase of “3 ground school” to take the FAA Knowledge Test and more importantly the Checkride. It is easier to learn the information and then be able to answer the FAA questions when memorize the questions and answers.

The best resources for ground school are the FAA handbooks “Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge” 8083-25B and the “Flying Handbook” 8083-3B for Airplanes, and the “Weight-Shift Control Flying Handbook” 8083-5 plus the “Weight-Shift Control Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge” for trikes. These should be your reference books for all your ground schools and preparing for the Checkride also. I have modified/enhanced both these books for sport pilots flying LSA as a downloadable PDF. This allows you to know what to study and what not to study plus these PDF files add important information.

A complete “ground school” covering all three necessary topics is built into the HAMILTON PILOT TRAINING SYSTEM. All the ground school and flight school/lessons are in the on-line Learn to Fly courses.

How a pilot applicant goes through ground school at Sport Aviation Center LLC depends on the student’s specific situation. Some will study everything before they come, while another wants to learn while they are flight training. How you do ground school will depend on your situation and how you want to learn. Always best if you can go through the on-line Learn to Fly  courses before you start flying. Great way to get started.