Av8Prep Launches Online Ground School

To mark the launch, program officials flew to each of the 104 paved airports in Florida in a 72 hour period.

The new AV8Prep platform, which launched Thursday, has been test flown in recent months by various flight schools around the country. [Courtesy: AV8Prep]

Have you noticed the options for online private pilot ground school? It can be confusing to select the one that is best for you. 

Some are taught by people of great experience and skill, with graphics and animation, others are little more than one person talking to a camera.

For best results, you have to keep the readers engaged, said Drew Clark, founder of AV8Prep

The Florida-based company has just released a Part 141 approved "innovative online learning platform, designed to transform the way aspiring pilots and aviation enthusiasts acquire their knowledge and skills."

According to Clark, AV8Prep’s learning platform features a visually intensive experience with 3-D graphics and videos brought to the learners by multiple instructors who bring decades of experience and thousands of hours of flight experience to the virtual classroom.

"If you want to market an online ground school, you have to do something different," said Clark, adding that his team is made up of several seasoned CFIs who are also Part 121 or Part 135 pilots. There's even a retired air traffic controller on the team, he said. 

The program is a different type of learning experience, Clark said.

"The videos are designed to be concise and informative. Sometimes we will split a lesson into two parts," he said. "The videos include preflight, the actual lesson and the postflight briefing so the learner knows exactly when they can expect when they get out to the airport. In addition, each segment is presented by a different instructor so you're not just staring at the same person video after video."

The new platform, which officially launched Thursday, has been test flown in recent months by various flight schools around the country, he said. 

To celebrate the launch of the improved program, Clark and Bob Kamm, a retired air traffic controller and one of the presenting CFIs, decided to fly to every paved airport in the Sunshine state in a 72-hour period. That's a total of 104 airports in three days.

"It took a lot of coordination," Clark said. "We planned the whole thing out on ForeFlight and we had to be careful because some of these airports are just three and four miles apart. We decided that one of us would be pilot flying while the other did navigation and contacted ATC. Bob had 33 years of experience working as ATC before he retired, so he knows what to say."

During each leg of the journey, Clark and Kamm rotated between left and right seats, trading off navigation and communication responsibilities.

They made the journey in a Cirrus SR22, stopping at some airports if the runway was short or they needed fuel and doing touch and goes on others that were at least 4,000 feet in length. While they were on final for one airport they were listening to the automated weather for their next destination. In addition, most of the trip was hand flown, because there wasn't time for autopilot use, he said.

"Bob's experience in ATC was very helpful," Clark continued, "as he drew on his experience as a controller at both Sun 'n Fun and [EAA AirVenture at] Oshkosh and his friends who helped us figure out the best time to get into the busy airspace like in Orlando and Miami."

Enhancing the Learning Experience

AV8Prep also offers additional programs aimed at improving the learner's experience, such as a private pilot diary (PPD). 

One of the challenges of flight training is hitting the learning plateaus where learners are left wondering if they are the only one who is having difficulty with something. PPD is a documentary that follows a learner named Jordan as she takes her first discovery flight through training to the check ride, Clark said.

"Each lesson starts with the prebriefing where Jordan and her instructor talk about what they are going to do, then they fly and then there is the post-brief," he said. "There are 26 lessons in all."

Tower talk is a program that focuses on radio communication. Instructor Bob Kamm's 33 years in ATC comes into play here, Clark said.

"Bob wears both his CFI and ATC hat for this as he goes over every potential radio call you can make as a pilot and discusses the dos and dont's."

And finally, there is AV8Live, where the clients have the opportunity to connect with an instructor via Zoom for a one-on-one chat with a CFI. It can be used as a mock check ride or for learner enrichment.

"They are module specific," Clark said. "So if a student is struggling with weather for example, they can login and bust through that plateau. It's all about how we can prepare you to be a better, real world pilot."

AV8Prep Cost

The traditional ground school of Av8Prep is available for a flat fee of $300. AV8Live, which includes a mock check ride and zoom calls, is an additional $169. AV8Live+ is $229 a month.

The company offers a guarantee that if the learner who completes the program does not pass the knowledge exam within 72 hours after scoring a 90 percent or higher on the final exam, the company will refund the cost of your course.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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