What are my ground school options?
There are many methods for gaining the knowledge requirements to become a pilot. It is best to start by determining your learning style. Are you the type of student that prefers to read through textbooks, highlight and take notes? Do you prefer audio/visual presentations with demonstrations? Perhaps you learn best engaging with an instructor and other students in a classroom setting. Any one of these methods, or even a combination, will ensure you have a solid knowledge foundation to put to practical use in flight lessons.
There are a variety of handbooks and manuals available that will provide you everything you need to know through your flight training goals. The FAA publishes official Aviation Handbooks that can be purchased online through Amazon, Sporty’s or other retailers. If you prefer digital media they can also be downloaded for free directly from the FAA website. Commercial options such as Jeppesen and ASA also publish manuals covering the same information in a more ‘polished’ format.
Most people today are comfortable with an online learning platform. Several commercial options including Sporty’s, Jeppesen, King and ASA (to name a few) deliver content with interactive graphics and video demonstrations which many people find easier to understand. Content is broken down into digestible sections arranged by topic ranging from 15 to 45 minutes each. You can review sections as many times as you like and many sections also have quizzes to validate understanding.
Much like online courses, a ground school instructor will present all required knowledge areas for course. These are typically held at the flight school, a local community college or at a University as part of an aviation program. The benefit of an in-person experience is the opportunity to ask questions and engage in discussions with class to foster deeper understanding.
Often times, students utilize one or all of these methods. You may choose to purchase online course and supplement with textbooks. At Rainier Flight, student can audit specific classes to benefit from discussions on a particularly challenging subject. Expect to spend at least 36 hours on any one method to be well prepared for flight lessons.
When to start is up to you. It is never too early to begin preparing for flight training. Ideally, you would complete the ground school prior to starting lessons so you can review specific subjects a second time at the relevant stages of flight training. You want to spend your time with instructor putting all the knowledge to practical application so a solid foundation is key. Should you arrive for flight lessons without the prerequisite studying it will take a lot more time and money.
There are many interesting aspects of aviation so approach learning with a growth mindset and enthusiasm. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed and don’t forget - have fun!