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Ground school and written exam before flight training?

Asked by: 2522 views , ,
Flight Instructor, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

For any CFI that wants to chime in. Would you prefer a student with ZERO flying experience, and be able to start with a clean slate, no bad habits, and no book knowledge. Or.... A student that has flown before, has the required book knowledge (possibly passed the written) and needs to get the flying skills, dual/solo time etc. Here's my situation. I took lessons years ago, it was actually a class in my high school. We had to split time between all the students and the one instructor. So in 3 years, I amassed around 41-42 hours of dual, with .7hrs solo time in the pattern.  I took and passed the written exam at the time 1991-1992. I joined to military after school and never flew again. I look at my logbook to this day and kick myself. 20 solo hrs and I would have been done. I know that I need to do a lot of ready to get back up to speed on the rules, airspace, weather, etc... retake the written, and get back in the cockpit. What recommendations would you give me. Where should I start. 1) Find an instructor, get in the cockpit and study the ground school stuff somewhere in there. 2) Get something like the  Sporty's Learn To Fly Course, and start flying after taking an passing the written. 3) something else.   I hope this makes sense and I look forward to some input. Also if there is anyone that can recommend a school or instructor in the Central Oregon Coast area that would be great. I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon.   Thanks again and I look forward to any responses. Daniel

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5 Answers

  1. Mark Kolber on Jul 22, 2013

    It doesn’t make any difference to me. All flight students are different. Having had lessons previously is just one more piece of the mix. Consider that an instrument or commercial student already has a pilot certificate – and a personal set of flight techniques – when they come to a new instructor.

    Besides, I doubt if anyone interested in flying airplanes ever comes into it with zero knowledge or at least without some expectations (correct or otherwise).

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  2. Best Answer

    MaggotCFII on Jul 22, 2013

    Welcome Back!

    The CFI that you select will be your most important decision. To that end I suggest that you visit as many flight training operations and actually have a lunch conversation with the CFI you whom you might want to train. If a CFI takes that time to talk with you and a mutual cord is struck – than that’s the person with whom you train. If a CFI is always looking at his watch and talks like a robot, forget about it. Given your description, I’d suggest an older sort of CFI, not a time-builder.

    I would let that CFI suggest exactly what material to use, purchase and study. Unless you enter a Part 141 program, most of us in the Part 61 world have our favorites. And you will save a great deal on money.

    You will find that much of the skills will come back quicker than you might imagine. I’ve had several folks over the years surprise themselves! So, that I would not be concerned about. It is the “knowledge” part which will be your challenge – and that your CFI must guide you through, which is why making the right fit is so important. Take a look in the Federal Air Regulations. Part 61, 61.87, Solo requirements for Student Pilots, (a)(b)(c) and (d) for your first reference. That is where your CFI should be working with you.

    If possible try to use a similar airplane, high/low wing, so your recall is quicker. That includes flying in an airplane with “six-pack” instruments and not (yet!) advanced flight displays, until you get the basics that you previously learned back.

    If you get a CFI that thinks 10 hours in the traffic pattern as soon as you begin training or cross country trips for lunch are the way to train – ditch that CFI – that would be a time-builder.

    I’d also suggest that you get your medical before you begin training. That will save money should you not qualify or need to do a special issuance.

    There are two sources, AOPA and FAASafety.gov which have free on-line courses, as well dozens of forums that are available to you. Again let your CFI point you in that direction.

    Keep in mind that there is no shortage of opinions in this business and any of our suggestions may or may not work for you – make up your own mind.

    Again, “Welcome Back”!

    Cheers from the East Coast.

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  3. Fly92020 on Jul 22, 2013

    I would get the knowledge test out of the way first in your case. You already have some hours (albeit years ago), so you’ve been in an airplane enough to understand VOR, compass, etc. Hit the books, take your written, then start the fun part — flying the airplane.

    IMHO, I’m not a fan of the Sporty’s stuff. I currently have 2 students that have been using it on their iPads. It seems to be a mish-mosh of videos of varying lengths, in seemingly random order. One student already quit using it and moved to ASA’s program, which he likes a lot better. He didn’t seem to be getting what he needed to study & practice for the written.

    Don’t beat yourself up too much about dropping out (80% do the same thing). I also took a one-hour/all year Ground School in High School, started flying and ran out of money. Then I ran out of time (work/life)… it was several years later before I had the both again, and got back into flying. Sound familiar?

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  4. Fly92020 on Jul 24, 2013

    Not to be hypercritical Lucas, (but you did post a self-serving link to your own product, so you opened the can of worms…)

    1. I can’t get the demo to work on my computer in Firefox (says I need Internet Explorer?), but it did work on the iPad.
    2. You really couldn’t find someone to narrate this that doesn’t have a speech impediment?
    2a. He’s obviously ad-libbing and not using a script. Wassup wid dat?

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  5. Lucas on Jul 26, 2013

    I don’t know how familiar you are with programming Fly92020, but The software is developed with HTML5 which is the future language of the Net and most browsers already use it (Chrome, Explorer, Safari, etc.). We are aware that the software does not work on Firefox but that is firefox’s problem not ours (within 2 years all websites will be developed in HTML5, if Firefox doesn’t update there will be no more firefox).

    Also the online version of the software is specifically developed for iPad and Android tablets while we wait for Apple’s approval to sell it on the Apple store.

    Finally the instructor is teaching impromptu, rather than reading a lecture that can become very boring very rapidly. We are a fairly new company but none of our 1,000 + customers has ever complained about the speaker. As a matter of fact we have received plenty of compliments for his teaching methods and his expertise. He has been called funny entertaining and highly qualified by all of our customers.

    Now learning is an individual thing and you might like or not like our speaker. That is your choice, but if you ask me and most of our customers they would rather listen to 11 hours of him speaking rather than 11 minutes of the kings.


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