What Is the Best Online Ground School for You?

Depending on your situation, one online ground school may suit you better than the others.

online ground school

Find the best online ground school for you here. [Credit: CanvaPro]

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.

Ground school is the first step a student pilot needs to take on the way to achieving most flight certificates and ratings, from a sport pilot certificate to an airline transport pilot certificate. If you’re already a pilot and looking to achieve your instrument rating, check out our article on the best IFR ground schools.

While most elements of aviation education need to be completed in person, there are online ground schools available to prepare aspiring pilots for the FAA knowledge test.

All of the online options have a variety of offerings, including banks of information relative to the written exam, sample test questions, and links to other resources to help pilots prepare for their knowledge and practical tests. 

Quicklook: Best Online Ground Schools to Consider

7 Best Online Ground School Options

Depending on your current level of aviation knowledge, your budget, and your timeframe, one of the many online ground schools may suit you better than the others. Here is a look at six of the best options.

Pilot Institute Online

If you don’t pass the written test, Pilot Institute will send you $175 cash on top of a full refund for the course. This option is also self-paced, and 99.8 percent of students do, indeed, pass their written exams. They also offer a Facebook group for online study and discussion with classmates and a 44-page study guide.

Best For: Pilots who are nervous about their ground school investment

Course Length: Self-paced with a long list of practice examinations—20 hours, generally (courses can be sped up or slowed down to match learning style).

Subscription Access: This includes lifetime access to all materials, even those that are added after you pass your exam.

What You’ll Learn: In addition to these areas of study, the course also offers a flashcard app for your phone to help you practice for the exam.

  • Airports and lingo
  • Weather patterns
  • How to choose a flight school
  • Aircraft systems
  • Flight instruments
  • Aerodynamics
  • Performance limitations

Pricing: $199

Angle of Attack Online Ground School

Certified Flight Instructors teach a student in the cockpit while flying, but it is important if you take online flight ground school to also have a CFI who is actively teaching. Angle of Attack is taught by Chris Palmer and features beautiful, modern videography and first-hand flight scenarios to help students become better pilots. Take these courses on the go, too, by downloading them natively to your device.  

Best For: Busy Pilots

Course Length: There are 10 sections, with multiple courses in each section. 

Subscription Access: Lifetime Access, with a subscription offering for only the ground school or include the Checkride ACE Course for only $70.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Orientation & Aerodynamics
  • Human factors
  • Aircraft Systems
  • Weather Theory
  • Aviation Weather
  • Performance
  • Airports
  • Airspace
  • Flight Planning
  • Next Steps

Sporty’s Private Pilot Learn to Fly 

Pilots who want an easy-to-follow, deep-knowledge course to prepare them for their written test. They offer a TV app so you can watch your instructional videos on a large screen, and offer a phone app that allows access to their training resources at any time. 

Best For: Self-Paced Learning

Course Length: The course is self-paced and is expected to take about 15 hours of study and practical time in order to be prepared for the written test.

Subscription Access: Lifetime access—even to updated materials

What You’ll Learn: The Sporty’s course offers a very extensive outline and you can customize your areas of focus based on your weaknesses and strengths. Here are some key points:

  • Maneuvers
  • Faa Regulations
  • Aircraft Familiarity
  • Weather Patterns
  • In-Cockpit Feel Via Their Video Catalog 

Pricing: $299

Gold Seal Online Ground School

Future pilots who want to take some free classes to test the waters first, and also for “rusty pilots” as they offer a “flight review” course similar to ground school that helps current pilots brush up on their skills. 

Best For: Tech-Savvy Pilots

Course Length: There are 6 modules, and each can be completed in a few hours. 

Subscription Access: There is a lot of free content, but subscription access grants you a lot more and is good for life. 

What You’ll Learn:

  • Getting Started
    • Pilot Qualifications
    • Aircraft Parts
    • Aerodynamics
    • Instrument Panel
  • Your First Few Hours
    • Zulu Time/Phonetic Alphabet
    • Charts
    • Airport Operations
  • Skill Building
    • Engine Systems
    • Ground Maneuvers
    • Turns
    • Recoveries
  • Aviation Weather
  • Real World Flying
    • VOR
    • GPS
    • Night Flight
    • Flight Plans
  • Passing Your Test

Pricing: $229 for full access (about ⅓ of materials are free to access)

Rod Machado 40-hour Private Pilot eLearning Ground School

Aspiring pilots looking to gain knowledge in a light-hearted atmosphere with plenty of one-on-one availability for questions and confirmations. The videos are as fun as they are educational, and the lessons can be customized to ensure there is more focus on areas of weakness. 

Best For: Lifetime Access to Digital Resources

Course Length: Self-paced—40 hours are recommended

Subscription Access: Lifetime access to all training materials is included in the price. 

What You’ll Learn:

  • Aerodynamics (Parts 1 and 2)
  • Airplane Engine
  • Electrical System
  • Flight Instruments
  • FAR
  • Airport Operations
  • Radio Operations
  • Understanding Airspace
  • Aviation Maps
  • Radio Navigation
  • Understanding Weather
  • Cross Country Flight Planning

Pricing: $279

ASA Private Pilot Online Ground School

Pilots who want an extensive library of information that can help them learn well beyond the study requirements for the exam. They also offer an instrument pilot ground school for a few more dollars, and if you’re planning on pursuing an IFR rating and/or becoming a commercial pilot, this is a great option to get ahead early.

Best For: Future IFR Pilots

Course Length: 2-4 weeks (self-paced)

Subscription Access: 24-month access to all materials including prepware.com

What You’ll Learn:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Aircraft Systems
  • Flight Instruments
  • Regulations
  • Airport Operations
  • Weather
  • Aircraft Performance
  • Enroute Flight
  • Navigation
  • Communication
  • Test Tips

Pricing: $180

Gleim Aviation Online Ground School

Gleim has a lot of ground school options. In addition to their basic private pilot ground school, they also offer ground school training for aspiring sport pilots as well as classes for future instructors, airline transport pilots (ATP), flight engineers, and more. 

Best For: Multiple Ground School Options

Course Length: Self-paced; average of 35 hours

Subscription Access: 12 months

What You’ll Learn:

  • Airplanes and Aerodynamics
  • Airplane Instruments, Engines, and Systems
  • Airports, Air Traffic Control, and Airspace
  • Federal Aviation Regulations
  • Airplane Performance and Weight and Balance
  • Aeromedical Factors and Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM)
  • Aviation Weather
  • Aviation Weather Services
  • Navigation: Charts and Publications
  • Navigation Systems
  • Cross-Country Flight Planning

Pricing: $160

King Schools

If you’re on the fence about online pilot courses and want one with a good guaranteed return, look no further than King Schools. They not only offer a 30-day full refund, they also promise you’ll get your money back if you fail your FAA test within one year of purchase. On top of a great guarantee, King Schools courses are well-known for their lighthearted tone and effective teaching style. Course access includes an app to make learning and studying easy on the go.

Best For: Money-Back Guarantee

Course Length: Self-paced; 15 hours of video lessons

Subscription Access: Lifetime access, including future updates

What You’ll Learn:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Aircraft performance
  • Airspace
  • Communications & Radar Services
  • How to read & understand sectional charts
  • Flight Operations
  • FAA Regulations
  • Safe Flight Operations
  • Navigation
  • Weight and Balance
  • How to Ace Your Test

Pricing: $299

What Is an Online Ground School?

Ground school is the first thing all aspiring pilots need to take in order to prepare them for the FAA written exam that will prove their competency, ultimately allowing the pilot to get a student’s certificate. This certificate is the gateway to all types of pilot certification

Some ground schools are in-person, but with so much technology available to make the online classroom seem more like the brick-and-mortar one, online flight schools hold a similar level of accreditation as their in-person counterparts—but can be completed at home and generally on the student’s own schedule. 

How Do Online Ground Schools Work?

No certification can actually be earned via online ground school (or in-person ground school, for that matter), but preparation for the FAA knowledge exam is very important, as the test is expensive and can only be attempted a limited number of times per calendar year. 

Online ground schools use video and text to educate aspiring pilots on everything they could be asked on their exams to get their student pilot certificate. 

What to Consider With an Online Ground School

As the FAA exam is the same no matter your prior education level, most ground schools will offer the same basic package. Depending on your areas of expertise, bank account, flexibility, and learning style; however, it’s a good thing that there are multiple school options to choose from. Before enrolling in an online training program, you should consider the following. 

Instructor Expertise

In order to apply for the FAA knowledge exam, aspiring pilots must have an endorsement from a CFI stating that they are ready to take the test. Knowing this, you should first be sure your online ground school offers a path to this endorsement. 

Some courses have single instructors while others have multiple, but as long as there is an option to ask qualified instructor questions, the ability to ask a single instructor versus multiple ones has a pretty even mix of pros and cons. 

Easy Course Access

If you’re very busy, online ground school is almost certainly your best option. Furthermore, some of these courses offer apps for phones and tablets, as well as downloadable content that you can study while not connected to the internet. 

Quality of Course Materials

All of these courses offer a preview of their course materials, and it’s up to you to decide which style you prefer. Some are more video-based, and others are more text, but all of the options on this list offer quality knowledge. 

Strong Community Support

If you’re someone who likes to learn in a group setting, the online option may be a bit off-putting, but some of these courses offer real-time support with an instructor, as well as group meetings via Zoom (or similar) so you can interact with fellow classmates. 

Online Ground School Reviews

The aviation community is a pretty small one, so each review holds a little more weight than that of something like a restaurant, so you might take a look at reviews regarding a course. 

Course Pricing

Most of these courses hover between $250 and $300—though some are even less—but be sure to check if you have unlimited access to the materials. If not, you may want to consider a slightly more expensive option that allows you to continue accessing lessons long after you pass your FAA written exam.

Online Ground School vs Physical Ground School

With so many advancements in remote learning (many spawned out of necessity during the pandemic), the digital classroom has almost everything you would want in a physical classroom, outside of a handshake with the instructor. 

For more practical applications in aviation, like a check ride, a significant amount of hands-on training is a necessity, but for preparation for a written exam, such as that which ground school prepares you for, you may be well served by studying online. 

Study Time

With both online and in-class sessions, there are plenty of options for preparing you to pass the FAA-required exam to get your private pilot certificate. Online offers a bit more flexibility, and money saved on trips to and from a brick-and-mortar classroom. 

Online classes also offer access to materials that you can use even after your exam. If you’re tech-savvy and need a flexible schedule, online ground school is probably the best option for you.

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FAQ


FAQ

Can you take ground school online?

Yes, you can, but only in preparation for the FAA written exam. The exam must be taken in person.

How long is ground school online?

Most courses are self-paced and recommend 15-30 hours of prep time with their materials. 

How much does online ground school cost?

Online ground schools range in cost from free to $300. Entry-level, in-person courses generally start at $250. 


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