Best IFR Ground School Online

Editor’s note: The following article is not intended to be a ranking, but is only to serve as a list of possible options. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.

Looking to become a safer pilot but don’t think you have time? Online ground courses can be an easy and flexible way to tackle the academic side of pilot training without scheduled classes. Below are a few of the best online pilot instrument ground school courses you can complete anywhere. 

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Quicklook: Best IFR Online Ground Schools

IFR Rating Minimum Requirements

The FAA has very specific requirements you must meet before you can be eligible to obtain an instrument rating. 

  • Hold at least a private pilot certificate
  • Be able to speak English
  • Take a ground school training course or receive ground training from an authorized instructor
  • Receive a logbook endorsement certifying you are prepared for the FAA knowledge test
  • Pass the required FAA knowledge test (aeronautical knowledge)
  • Receive flight instruction in the areas of operation necessary for an instrument rating
  • Pass the required practical test

The first major step in the above requirements is to complete an instrument ground school. FLYING has researched the available online instrument ground schools and determined the best options below. 

5 Best Online IFR Ground School Options

Here are a few of our picks for online instrument pilot ground school courses. 

Pilot Institute

Pilot Institute takes a different approach than most online instrument pilot ground schools. Training with shorter videos encourages students to learn comprehensively and not just through memorization. Pilot Institute guarantees students will pass the FAA knowledge exam. If they do not pass the exam, students can apply to receive a full refund—and a little extra.

Website: Pilot Institute

Instructor: Multiple

Expected Hours for Completion: 35

Subscription Duration: Lifetime

Course List

  • Pilot qualifications
  • Airplane systems
  • Flight instruments
  • Attitude flying
  • Navigational equipment
  • Regulations
  • Airport operations and radio communications
  • Airspace and charts
  • IFR procedures
  • Approaches
  • Aviation weather
  • Aviation weather services
  • Emergency operations
  • Human factors
  • ADM

Standout Features: 

  • You’re guaranteed to pass the test or you’ll get $175 and a full refund 
  • Online mentorship for any questions or concerns 
  • Exclusive flashcard app for iPhone and Android users

Pricing: $249

King Schools Online Ground Courses

King Schools’ ground courses are some of the most well known in the aviation community. The instructors, John King, and Martha King, have more than 40 years of experience teaching and training pilots. The program also offers a full refund within 30 days if you do not like the instrument course. 

Website: King Schools 

Instructors: John King and Martha King

Expected Hours for Completion: 15 

Subscription Duration: Lifetime

Course List

  • En Route Charts
  • Departures and Arrival Procedures
  • Approach Charts
  • Navigation
  • Holding Patterns
  • Flight Planning
  • Flight Instruments
  • Weather
  • FARs
  • AIM
  • How to Ace Your Test

Standout Features: 

  • Unlimited randomized practice exams
  • Free lifetime automatic course updates
  • Free Flash Card app for additional review

Price: $599

Sporty’s Online Courses

Sporty’s Pilot Shop is a one-stop shop for all things pilot gear and education. This online instrument pilot course offers unlimited free updates, live CFI questions, and dynamic video. When you complete the course, Sporty’s will give you the flight instructor endorsement to take the knowledge test.

Website: Sporty’s Private Pilot Course

Instructors: Multiple

Expected Hours for Completion: 36

Subscription Duration: Lifetime

Course List

  • Instrument Flying Fundamentals
  • Air Traffic Control and IFR
  • Instrument Approaches
  • En Route IFR
  • Weather for IFR
  • Advanced IFR
  • FARs and Your Instrument Test

Standout Features: 

  • Money-back guarantee (Pass all three tests or get your money back)
  • Free lifetime updates
  • Ask a live CFI anytime

Pricing: $229

Gleim Aviation

Gleim Aviation offers one of the most affordable online instrument pilot courses out there. With fully integrated mixed media courses, accurate practice tests, and comprehensive study guides, Gleim may be the best fit for students looking to save money without compromising quality. 

Website: Gleim Aviation 

Instructors: Multiple 

Expected Hours for Completion: 30 

Subscription Duration: 12 Months – Repurchase Extension for Lower Cost

Course List

  • Airplane Instruments
  • Attitude Instrument Flying and Aerodynamics
  • Navigation Systems
  • FARs
  • Airports, Air Traffic Control, and Airspace
  • Holding and Instrument Approaches
  • Aeromedical Factors
  • Aviation Weather
  • Aviation Weather Services
  • IFR En Route
  • IFR Flights

Standout Features:

  • Free Trial 
  • Part-141 Approved
  • Mixed media presentation format
  • Receive FAA Wings program credit

Pricing: $250

Rod Machado’s eLearning Course

Rod Machado’s Instrument Pilot Ground School is an upbeat and comedic compilation of ground school classes. This course allows prospective pilots to gain knowledge needed for FAA knowledge and oral exams with interactive video eLearning. At the end of 50 hours, students will gain the endorsement needed to take the FAA exams. 

Website: RodMachado

Instructor: Rod Machado and Philip E. Hewitt

Expected Hours for Completion: 50

Subscription Duration: Lifetime

Course List:

  • Aerodynamics: The Wing is the Thing 
  • Engines: Knowledge of Engines Is Power 
  • Electrical Systems: Knowing What’s Watt 
  • Flight Instruments: Clocks, Tops & Toys
  • FARs: How FAR Can We Go? 
  • Airport Operations: No Doctor Needed
  • Radio Operations: Aviation Spoken Here
  • Airspace: The Wild Blue, Green, and Red Yonder 
  • Aviation Maps: The Art of the Chart 
  • Radio Navigation: The Frequency Flier Program
  • Understanding Weather: Looking for Friendly Skies 
  • Weather Charts and Briefings: PIREPS, Progs, and METARS 
  • Flight Planning: Getting There From Here
  • Airplane Performance Charts: Know Before You Go
  • Weight and Balance: Let’s Wait and Balance 
  • Pilot Potpourri: Neat Aeronautical Information
  • Secrets of Instrument Approaches and Departures
  • Understanding Weather
  • The Art of the Instrument Scan

Standout Features: 

  • Animated and Interactive eLearning 
  • 1,200-plus FAA-like knowledge questions 
  • Upbeat and comedic

Pricing: $279

What Is an Instrument Rating? 

An instrument rating allows you to fly “by instruments,” i.e., without visual references to the ground, horizon, and other landmarks. This means the pilot will be trained to fly through clouds, rain, fog, and other weather conditions in a safe and informed manner.

How Do I Schedule a Check-Ride?

Most schools allow you to schedule a checkride near your location online. If your school does not have that capability, research designated pilot examiners in your area and reach out to them directly. 

To ensure your checkride is successful, have your ground and flight endorsements in your log book, your written certification with a passing score, your private pilot’s license, and government issued identification with you.

What To Consider With IFR Ground School Online

The first thing to consider when choosing an online instrument ground school is how you learn. Visual learners may have the most success with video and interactive courses, while those who can grasp concepts by reading may succeed with textbook-based online ground schools. 

Students who ask lots of questions should find an online instrument pilot ground school with live instructors to answer questions. 

Instructor

Online ground school courses range from a single instructor to multiple depending on the program. Ensuring the instructor fits your learning style will set you up for success. The best way to find out if an online ground school instructor is the right fit for your learning style is by watching or skimming the free excerpts that most online ground schools offer.

Core Lessons

Core lessons are important to look at before purchasing an online instrument ground school course. Ensuring the alignment of courses with the topics on the FAA knowledge exam is important to ensure the course will be successful in teaching the instrument fundamentals. The main topics of a good online instrument pilot ground school will include:

  • Attitude flying
  • Approaches and departures
  • IFR communications 

Additional Materials

Some online ground schools provide additional materials to help students study and understand topics fully. Some of the extra materials provided include:

  • Flashcard Apps
  • Digital PDFs of written materials
  • Live instructors 
  • Interactive videos and maps
  • Flight instructor tracking
  • Lifetime updates

Pricing

Online instrument pilot ground schools vary in price depending on the school providing instruction. Pricing for online ground instruction can range from $250 to $1,000. While online ground schools offer different features, the higher prices do not always equate to more materials. Pricing can be a factor when deciding which ground school to choose, but it is best to choose an online instrument pilot ground school based on your learning style, not price alone.

Fly in the Clouds

Whether or not you are looking to save time and money or you just learn better at your own pace, online instrument pilot ground classes may be the best option for you. To stay informed on more training options and to stay up to date on all aviation related news subscribe to FLYING Magazine.

FAQ

What does IFR mean?

IFR means instrument flight rules.

How much is ground school online?

Online pilot ground schools vary in price depending on the school providing instruction. Pricing for online ground can range from $125 to $1,000.

What are the requirements for an IFR rating?

In short, the requirements to obtain an instrument rating are to hold a current private pilot certificate and pass the written, oral, and flight exams.

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