Skip formal ground school?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Shoomp, Jan 20, 2020.

  1. Shoomp

    Shoomp Filing Flight Plan

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    I’m contemplating taking a 30-hour classroom ground school. I started training 10 months ago with a CFI as a hobby and have solo’d. I’m currently endorsed for a solo X-country but haven’t completed that yet. So I’m decent with planning, navigation, and I understand the basics of aeronautics and some of the FAA regs. I’m good with engines so I understand the basics of the mechanical systems in a single piston GA.

    The price is about the same as upset and spin recovery training in a Decathlon. I’m wondering if ground school would be the better choice. I’d rather have the hands-on experience than sit at a desk and memorize how to calculate indicated vs actual airspeed corrected for temperature and altitude.
     
  2. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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    I did self study for ground School with the free faa publications, so I'd opt for the decathlon, but if you don't learn well that way then ground School might work for you. I would think at your phase a lot will be review of things you learned already.
     
  3. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Doesn’t matter if you know the material well enough to pass the written and the practical, how you learn it.

    Plenty of CFIs around you can hire for a couple hours of ground grilling to see where you’re at, if you are wondering.

    Plus eventually your own CFI has to evaluate your knowledge level before they put the checkride endorsement in your logbook.

    When money was tight and I was 18-19 learning this stuff, I put nose to (free or borrowed) textbook if the choice was buying ground schools or crap from training companies vs actual flight time.

    If money were no object, most CFIs would answer with the popular meme these days...

    “Why not both?” Heh.

    If you’re self motivated, self study works fine. Especially at the Private certificate level. Students with no self study skills or self motivation often have to be spoon fed, and formal classroom settings help all the local CFIs out by doing that 10-20 people at a time. Some also just learn better in group settings.

    Whatever works for you. The numerous evaluation layers by your CFI and DPE remain the same. :)
     
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  4. redtail

    redtail En-Route

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    I'm not sure if self study courses were even an option when I started twenty years ago, but I really enjoyed the formal ground school classes I took at Teterboro (KTEB). Like my profession/career (electrical), I'm a "both" type of person. I have the discipline to self-study, but also gain a tremendous amount of knowledge and value from the formal classroom setting, with an experienced teacher up front.

    Edit: Correction...I actually did purchase and use Sporty's ground school tapes- VHS, but that was after I started class. That supplemented what I was learning, but what I'm not sure of, is if I could have used them alone at the time.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  5. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach

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    How do you learn best? Are you the type who can pick up a book and go from there or does it work better if you listen to a lecture?

    Me? If I'm interested in a subject, I'll learn the material faster by studying the book.
     
  6. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    We are all different, but for me I found it better to sit in my chair at home and study on my own. I don’t always last a long time in a classroom. When you were in high school or college, you usually sat there an hour at a time. Sitting there all day long and constantly maintaining full concentration is something different.

    Self study also allows me to fit it in with my other activities.
     
  7. gdwindowpane

    gdwindowpane Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I did the Gold Seal online ground school. I'm a computer guy and prefer the flexibility of studying pretty much where and when I want. As others have said it really depends on how you learn best. Good Luck!
     
  8. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    As a few others suggested, the answer depends much more on how you best learn, assuming the goal is learning the material and not simply drilling for the knowledge test.

    "Formal" ground has an advantage for those who learn best in a group where the can have the benefit of live Q&A (theirs and other participants') on more difficult subjects. Online/video courses have the benefit of teachers with a long history of explaining these things and the ability to review anything at any time.

    It is a bit like the old issue of when. Fir some, getting it out of the way early is a benefit. For others, contextual learning (learn holding around the time you are doing it) works much better.
     
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  9. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    King course 15 hours, Part 141 private ground school minimums 35 hours.
     
  10. kath

    kath Administrator Management Council Member

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    The FAA doesn't care where exactly you get your "ground training", but you do have to document somewhere and somehow that you received it, and the FAR's list the topics. "...must receive and log ground training from an authorized instructor or complete a home-study course on the aeronautical knowledge areas of..." and "must receive and log ground and flight training from an authorized instructor on the areas of operation of this section..." etc.
    If you don't take a formal course of some sort (if you just self-study on your own), then the only documentation is your CFI's endorsement that says they've reviewed your home-study and found it acceptable. Or however that wording goes. So make sure your CFI is always in the loop.

    Has your CFI been recording "ground training" in your logbook? If not, ask him or her to start... That doesn't mean "lessons" with the CFI necessarily, it can be any time you and he/she talk about knowledge-y stuff. Have your CFI jot down all those "things that you talk about before and after the flight", somewhere. People will doubtless argue about whether this is strictly necessary or not (because it didn't used to be), but the FAA and examiners are getting pickier about wanting a record of ground training like this. I was told this by my examiner, as a CFI candidate. Especially if you don't take a formal course, this will help your examiner see that your ground ducks are in a row.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  11. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I did a regular ground school (for the private) because it was free at the college I went to. Later I took an absolutely terrible Instrument-Commercial ground school, not so much because of the teacher but because the Sanderson course materials were absolutely horrid. I did John and Martha King back when they were still on video tapes to pass the Instrument (the first time).

    Other than that, I've self studied and then used ol' Irwin Gleim to drill-and-kill for the exam. Back in the old days, they used to stick a form you could get your instructor to sign off to say you had the review. The new computerized version just "teaches you" ad prints out the certificate. John and Martha back in the day sent me one back after I proved I finished.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  12. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    One advantage to the lecture format..well, when it’s a good instructor....you can ask questions. The questions you and other students ask can take you further into discussions that can provide more insight on the topic. No one has the exact same experience, so everyone benefits.

    On the other hand, if the instructor keeps to the script, doesn’t allow questions that go deeper into the material, then it’s a waste of time and money.
     
  13. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    Given the choice between classroom ground school and stick time in a Decathlon, I’d take the Decathlon. You can study and learn the ground school material several different ways, some of them free and some cheap. Not the same with getting real world spin and upset training.

    The flip side is... the spin and upset recovery training is not a requirement.
     
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  14. Jim K

    Jim K Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    I'll echo what @kath said. When I took my private checkride a few months ago, the dpe looked in my logbook and made a comment about the lack of logged ground school. This was after I gave him my certificate from gold seal. I told him I did self study and he seemed to not care for that answer. Thankfully my cfi had logged the time he spent quizzing me in prep for the oral so there was a few hours there.

    I definitely would still skip the traditional ground school though. The afh and phak are pretty thorough, and back it up with an online ground school and you'll have no trouble. Take this with a grain of salt, though. Im NOT a classroom learner. I skipped a LOT of lectures in college.
     
  15. Shoomp

    Shoomp Filing Flight Plan

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    I learn best by making mistakes or seeing things first-hand. I have the Gleim materials and my CFI logs ground training for things like cross country planning and navigating.

    I was expecting folks to tell me I need formal ground school or else I’m reckless. I’d be kicking myself if I was sitting in class for hours listening to lectures on how carburetor ice forms on a warm day.

    Aviation weather is an area where I’d like to get better training, especially around icing and when the dew point spread is close so fog can easily form. Not sure if that’s covered in the sort of detail I’m looking for.
     
  16. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I am the same...a visual learner. I can not read how to do something and retain it, especially in a testing format. Show me how to do it...got it down.

    I had top throw the Gleim program out the window as it was just read and regurgitate and my mind does not learn that way.

    I did the King program and aced both PPL and IFR since it was a video based program. Can't recommend that enough. You can go at your own pace and not held hostage to a classroom schedule. Back in school days I was only 50/50 with good instructors that I connected with and leaned the subjects well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
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  17. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I never did a formal ground school for any of my training although my flight school offered one. I mostly did a self study and if I didn’t really understand a question, I would ask my CFI before we went flying during the briefing. There are probably some local community colleges that offer ground school if you learn better in a classroom setting.
     
  18. Brad Smith

    Brad Smith Line Up and Wait

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    If you take ground school you'll probably glean some wisdom from the ground instructors and perhaps some of the other students. There's a lot to be said for human interaction.
     
  19. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Or you'll be indoctrinated with misinformation.
     
  20. smv

    smv Pattern Altitude

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    Much like several others here, the entirety of my "Ground Training" consisted of my CFI grilling me for a couple hours on a no-fly day using the Gleim study book to ask me questions. When he was satisfied that I could easily pass the Knowledge Exam, he signed me off and logged the two hours of Ground Training. Having spent the previous 35 years "studying", it went rather smoothly.... :cool:
     
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  21. YooperMooney

    YooperMooney Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If you can afford the time for the ground school then I would do it. You’re provided the priceless opportunity to ask stupid questions. You can’t really do that when staring at a Gleim book or watching a Sporty’s video. Again, if you can afford the time to attend the classes.
    I couldn’t afford the time and did the IFR written via Sporty’s and also grilled IFR-current pilots with my stupid questions. I did the PPL ground school when I was 14 and took the exam when I was 26. I studied for four hours, received a sign-off from my CFI, and scored a 92%. I would have had no problem taking the class again but I couldn’t afford the time. Do the class if you can.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  22. woodchucker

    woodchucker Cleared for Takeoff

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    I took a formal ground course for my private because my training school suggested it and I didn’t know better. However I did find it useful and I met other students and we formed a study group together. Currently I’m working on my IR and I’m using the Sporty’s ground school and will use Sheppard for test prep. You might consider asking to sit in on one of the classes to see if it might work for you. It is more than just learning how to calculate this or that, but of course it’s included.