6 Online Private Pilot Ground School Options

Online private pilot ground school

Find an online private pilot ground school in this guide! [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.

Looking to become a 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 ground school courses you can complete anywhere.

Quicklook: 6 Online Private Pilot Ground Schools

  • Pilot Institute: Best for students looking for a different approach with 24/7 support
  • Sporty’s: Best for students wanting unlimited access and a combination of video and written learning. 
  • Gold Seal: Best for students who learn by doing due to the interactive lesson platform.
  • Rod Machado’s eLearning Course: Best for students looking for an interactive private pilot course with a comedic edge. 
  • King Schools: Best for students looking to complete their online ground school quickly. 
  • Gleim Aviation: Best for students looking for an affordable online private pilot ground school.

6 Private Pilot Ground School Recommendations

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

Pilot Institute Online Course

Pilot Institute takes a different approach than most online private 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, students will receive a full refund—and a little extra.

Easily become an airplane or commercial pilot online! Courses designed by industry experts can help you pass FAA tests and get into the sky!

Enroll Now
Enroll Now

Instructor: Multiple

Expected Hours for Completion: 35

Subscription Duration: Lifetime

Course List

  • Introduction to Flight Training
  • Basic Aerodynamics, Aerodynamic Forces, Weight & Balance, and Performance & Limitations
  • Regulation, Inspections & Documents, Aeromedical Factors, and Aeronautical Decision Making
  • Weather Theory, Weather Services, Airport Operations, and Radio Communications
  • Airspace, Charts, Navigation, Flight Computer & Cross-Country Planning

Standout Features: [what makes this one special?]

  • 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: $349

Sporty’s Online Courses

Sporty’s Pilot Shop is a one stop shop for all things pilot gear and education. This online private 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.

Ace your FAA written test, save money during flight training, and become a better pilot with Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course.

Learn More
Learn More

Instructors: Multiple

Expected Hours for Completion: 29 

Subscription Duration: Lifetime

Course List

  • Your First Few Hours
  • Practicing Landings
  • Your First Solo
  • Recreational and Sport
  • Your Dual Cross Countries
  • Your Solo Cross Countries
  • Private Pilot Test

Standout Features: 

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

Pricing: $279

Gold Seal

Gold Seal's ground courses are designed with new pilots in mind with interactive lessons and access to a ground instructor. The program allows for “test classes” to make sure the private pilot ground school is the right fit for the student. Gold Seal guarantees students will pass their FAA private pilot knowledge test, or they will receive a full refund plus a little extra. 

Learn to fly with an online ground school that you can trust. Get started for free on acing your private pilots license.

Try Now
Try Now

Website: Gold Seal

Instructors: Russell Still

Expected Hours for Completion: 18+

Subscription Duration: 1 Year—with the ability to choose subscription-based access 

Course List

  • 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

Standout Features: 

  • Interactive lessons with 3D in-flight video
  • Subscription Service to give lifetime access with a fee 
  • Guaranteed to pass or get a full refund plus more

Price: $229

Rod Machado’s eLearning Course

Rod Machado’s Private 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 40 hours, students will gain the endorsement needed to take the FAA exams. 

Website: Rod Machado

Instructor: Rod Machado and Philip E. Hewitt

Expected Hours for Completion: 40

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
  • Federal Aviation Regulations: 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

Standout Features: 

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

Pricing: $279

King Schools Online Courses

King School's 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 private pilot course. 

Instructors: John King and Martha King

Expected Hours for Completion: 15 

Subscription Duration: Lifetime

Course List

  • Aerodynamics
  • Aircraft Performance
  • Airspace
  • Communications & Radar Services
  • How to Read & Understand Sectional Charts
  • Flight Operations
  • FAA Regulations
  • Safe Flight Operations
  • Navigation
  • Weight and Balance

Standout Features: 

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

Price: $600

Gleim Aviation Courses

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

Instructors: Multiple 

Expected Hours for Completion: 35 

Subscription Duration: 12 Months - Repurchase Extension for Lower Cost

Course List

  • 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

Standout Features:

  • Free Trial 
  • Mixed media presentation format
  • Receive FAA Wings program credit

Pricing: $125

Is An Online Private Pilot Ground School Better?

Online ground school may be the best fit for students looking to start their training but who have minimal time and need to work at their own pace. Online ground schools give the flexibility to learn anywhere. Pilot ground school is where pilots learn the fundamentals of flying before hopping into the cockpit. Topics such as aeronautical decision making, interpreting charts, understanding weather briefs, and how to plan a flight are all subjects in ground school courses. Most ground school classes are designed to prepare students for the written (knowledge) and oral questions often posed during FAA check rides.

What to Consider With Online Ground School

The first thing to consider when choosing an online 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 textual online ground schools. 

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


Online ground school courses range from 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 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 fundamentals. Main topics of a good online private pilot ground school will include: aerodynamics, airspace, and weather. These are key topics on FAA exams. 

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


Online private pilot ground schools vary in price depending on the school providing instruction. Pricing for online ground can range from $125 to $1,000. While online ground schools offer different features, the higher the price does not always mean more materials. Pricing can be a factor when deciding which ground school to choose, but it is best to choose an online private pilot ground school based on your learning style, not price alone. 

Online Ground School vs Physical Ground School

Physical ground school and online ground school are very similar. The materials in both will cover the same topics to ensure students pass the FAA knowledge and oral exams. The main difference between physical ground school and online ground school is the time commitment. Physical ground school requires an in person instructor with little room for flexibility. Online ground schools allow students to complete ground school at their own pace while still obtaining an endorsement to take FAA knowledge exams. The ability to ask questions while learning may be an upside for physical ground school, but now, a lot of online ground schools give the options for live chats with instructors. 

Start Your Online Ground School Journey Today

Whether or not you are looking to save time and money or you just learn better at your own pace, online pilot ground classes may be the best option for you. To learn more about aviation education and how you can become a certified pilot subscribe to the FLYING Newsletter



Can you learn how to be a pilot online?

Online pilot ground courses are a great way to learn the fundamentals and prepare for both the knowledge test and the oral portion of an FAA check ride. To prepare for the flight portion you will have to take flight lessons.

How much does online ground school cost?

Online ground courses can cost between $125 to $1,000 depending on software purchases.

What is the easiest pilot’s certificate to get?

Difficulty in obtaining a pilot’s certificate is dependent on the student. Increased study hours and commitment can make any pilot certificate a breeze.

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