Ground School



I have a number of friends who are currently following ground school lessons for their PPL. They all have day-jobs and work full time, going to their local FBO after work for their lessons. I would like to ask for your opinions as to which approach is better when being tought ground school:

1-Using educational DVDs (Sporty’s, Jeppesen, etc…)
2-Having an instructor go through the book and using a blackboard to go over specific topics.

Personnally, I prefer the second option because I think the best approach to learning is an active one: where you can ask questions, share stories with your instructor or other students, etc… On the other hand, I know that sollicitating visual memory when learning also helps to steepen the learning curve and that’s why so many schools still use DVDs to teach. However, for people with full time jobs, it can get pretty tiring to have three hours of ground school after work, especially with the lights dimmed and a movie playing !

What do you think ?


I think being taught is better then teaching myself, especially with regard to flying. But some people perfer to watch the movies in the comfort of their house.


I prefer being self taught. I seem to intake information faster than most lecture type teachers can present it. Obviously there is some information you will need specific one on one instruction for. DVD’s are much cheaper and can be reviewed over and over again, plus you can work at your own pace.

If you are just looking for a written sign off, some FBO’s offer an accelerated ground school over a weekend. If you want to actually learn what you need to be a better pilot, I suggest some combination of Visual media, and individualized instruction. In fact, Sporty’s is now offering their courses online and will send you a written endorsement upon completion.


Number two for me. Interactivety with a human beats a computer any day in my eyes. While a computer will never let you down in giving you a wrong answer 99.9999999 percent of the time, sometimes explaining a concept in detail can never be done by a computer especially when asking the “why’s” or trying to extract a rational of a concept.

Perfect world would be a mix and match of the above.

Of course nothing will ever replace the “lab” environment of a real deal instructor in a real deal plane that does not have a reset button :slight_smile:


I agree with you. Being self-taught eliminates that lowest common denominator (LCD) factor in a class room, namely, the class can go no faster than the slowest person in the room. In a self-taught situation, the student is both the LCD and the best student.

There are times when a classroom setting is good but I would say, in my case, it’s better to learn on my own 99.999% of the time. This is especially true when learning the background or theory of something such as flight.*

Being self-taught doesn’t mean going without human contact. I think it’s great to be able to used a computer and have a human contact for those times when you just can’t grasp the concept due to poor programming or whatever.

*I mentioned an aviation term so I don’t have to send this posting over to the banter thread :slight_smile:


To each his own. I prefer the home study program. I’m a quick learner, usually memorizing information on the first round. I always became bored in school by what Dami calls the LCD. I wish the home study courses came with a matching book that follows the material being covered in the video.

There is a third option… the weekend ground school where the course is packed into a 2-3 course. I think this is actually how Hal Shevers aka ‘Sporty’ got started.


I prefer classes with a small group for teaching and learning. You learn alot from others, including the less than bright or fast. After class you can go self study to be prepared for the next class. :wink:

I’ve spent as much time reteaching self studied students who misunderstood a principle as I have teaching in a formal class room. :unamused:


Thank you for your thoughts & opinions !

It seems like the chief CFI at the school insists on having the whole class watch instructional DVDs while the instructor is there simply to answer questions from students ! That’s a waste of everyone’s time in my opinion…


I think 185 driver pretty much nailed the hammer on the head especially when it comes to unteaching something learned or comprehended incorrectly.

I personally don’t think watching a video is waste of anybody’s time especially if you have an instructor there to answer questions that arise from watching a video. One thing for sure, the video won’t answer questions from the viewers and any misunderstanding of a concept can be nipped in the bud just from the instructor’s bank of experience (providing of course you have a good instructor!)

As far as visual aides, I am all for power points, videos and any other aides that will help explain a concept to me, but the important thing is that balance between visual aides and a good instructor.

Too much reliance on visuals, and I tend to drift off, I am all for human interactivity outside pushing a key or clicking a mouse for a 4 or 5 multiple guess question

The instructor being there allows for that interactivety option


Why don’t you just watch the DVD’s on your own time and write down any question’s, then get with an instructor to go over them with you?


Why don’t you just watch the DVD’s on your own time and write down any question’s, then get with an instructor to go over them with you?

That’s exactly what I told them ! Instead of paying an instructor to sit there half the time without saying anything, why not pay him to actually teach !!! Anyone can watch DVDs on his own and then do some reasearch in textbooks for those topics that didn’t go so well… And then, if need be, ask an instructor for some help.


My local community college offered a ground school program when I was going through my PPL. It was taught by an ex CO pilot who had lost his medical and this was his way to stay in flying. I already had a background in flying but took the course and still learned quite a bit. It was nice to be able to ask questions and get detailed answers. The DVD’s are good too, but cost more than I paid for live ground school. Since you can rewind and go back to the material on the DVD’s that is a + and I still watch my instrument DVDs from time to time just to keep fresh since I don’t fly as often as I’d like.
Of course it’s up to the person, but if the classroom option is available, it’s at least work looking into it, I found it very beneficial.


I have not compared the cost of DVD’s vs face to face training, but the cost benefit return in a face to face class is priceless. My ground training in 2000 was a touch over $500 with Jeppeson materials included.

No computer or DVD program will ever replace the friendships and war stories shared during a 9 week ground school training session.

Insofar as instructor experiences being shared. PRICELESS.

In my limited CD’s I have viewed, I have yet to see a CD share the tip, on descent on an IFR approach, that you will notice it get darker as you break out of the cloud due to the coloration of the ground contrasting the grey cloud you were enveloped in.

Again, to compliment face to face training, any visual aide I find most useful as long as that isn’t the crutch used for training.

Like 185Driver said, keep the class size small for a more effective training session. My class both for IFR and VFR were about 8 people.

For training, human interaction is most intuitive at least for me.


I did my ground through a local community college, and w/ the Jeppesen books it was about $250 (so I guess it might rival the DVD sets out there? but yes, the in person instructor, like you said, had great stories, insight and got the points across. I think if you can obtain the DVD’s, they sure accompany the training well, and when you’re well into your currency and don’t fly 3 or 4 times a week, not a bad thing to pull out and take a look over (the more advanced topics) just to refresh.
It is nice to be able to ask a question that may go beyond the book, and get an answer, rather than taking what you can get from pre recorded/written media.

I get good use out of the recorded media as well though , I like to dig out the Oral guides that ASA puts out and read a chapter at a time. If I could log the time I daydream fly… I’d have boxes of logbooks, however I don’t get the real world in that sorta flying, so I do get alot of use out of the printed and recorded training media (meant for initial training) to keep me thinking.