“I feel like there is truly nothing like it,” Jason Miller told Flying as he introduced his newest project. “I started developing the idea in 2007, was able to start building it in 2014, and am only talking about it now because we have had such limited resources to work with to create it. But here we are!” Miller’s podcast, The Finer Points, has an extensive following, and this felt to him like the next step towards serving that audience.
Miller bootstrapped the development for The Finer Points’ new iPad flight training program, Ground School, while working as a flight instructor in the Bay Area. Anyone in touch with the average instructor’s income will understand, then, why the road to launch has been an extended one. But it has allowed Miller to thoroughly think through and assess every component that has gone into the new system. The development team of Miller, pilot and software engineer Todd Eichel, and designer and user-experience expert Brad Olcott produced the program.
Ground School comes in two parts, Knowledge and Skill. Within the Knowledge section, the program hosts animations, videos, and unlimited practice tests that comprise most familiar online pilot training systems. According to the news release, “Expert CFI tips are peppered throughout the app to provide insights gained from 20 years of experience and the FAA textbooks and important ACs are all there with page references.”
The Skills section breaks down each lesson as though the student were taking it with an in-person instructor, starting with a briefing, then moving into the airplane for the lesson, then completing the session with a debrief covering common mistakes. “The in-flight videos are filmed using a custom video setup called Pilot Perspective which puts the viewer in the pilot’s seat,” says the release. “[Four] cameras help the user identify the proper sight pictures. Creative evaluations called Tap Target then solicit the viewer to tap the screen where they see the flight start to go wrong. Other creative evaluation types such as Drag and Drop allow the user to reorganize equations and other knowledge elements that are otherwise difficult or boring to learn.” A “Knowledge Recall” feature gives users the opportunity to periodically recharge their retention of key concepts through quizzing throughout the course.