If you’re a student pilot who is dreaming of getting your private pilot license, you already know that starting from zero and learning all about aerodynamics, engines, electric systems, flight systems, and the many other things you need to know can be a real challenge.
The material is hardly exciting, and the concepts can be hard to understand.
Some online ground schools do a better job than others at breaking down these difficult concepts in a way that you can easily understand and will stick. But, in my opinion, Rod Machado does it the best.
Therefore, the best online ground school is Rod Machado’s 40-Hour Private Pilot eLearning Ground School Course – a sentiment that many flight instructors and private pilot license holders agree on.
What You Should Know
My aim is to be as transparent as possible, so you should know that we came to the conclusion of Rod Machado’s course being the best option after looking at several other online ground schools in-depth, including:
- Part Time Pilot Private Pilot Online Ground School
- Sporty’s Private Pilot Learn to Fly
- Gleim Private Pilot Online Ground School
- ASA Online Ground School
- My criteria for selecting the best online ground school included the presentation of the content, taking into account different learning styles, pass rates, customer support, and price.
- I have made my recommendations based on student experiences, firsthand experience, and online ground school reviews from other outlets.
Best Online Ground School: Rod Machado’s Private Pilot Elearning Ground School
If you enroll in a traditional single-semester, college aviation ground school, there is little doubt that you will learn everything you need to know to pass the private pilot written exam.
But this usually comes at great expense and with a hefty time commitment.
Fortunately, Rod’s course manages to present the same material in great depth at a much lower price, and in a manner that lets you work at your own pace, in your own time, while also being able to refer back to everything whenever you want.
In total, the course features 26 modules, spanning 40 hours, that covers the following:
- Aerodynamics: The Wing is the Thing (3.9 Hrs)
- Engines: Knowledge of Engines Is Power (3.45 Hrs)
- Electrical Systems: Knowing What’s Watt (.5 Hrs)
- Flight Instruments: Clocks, Tops & Toys (2.5 Hrs)
- Federal Aviation Regulations: How FAR Can We Go? (4.6 Hrs)
- Airport Operations: No Doctor Needed (2.45 Hrs)
- Radio Operations: Aviation Spoken Here (1.4 Hrs)
- Airspace: The Wild Blue, Green and Red Yonder (3.5 Hrs)
- Aviation Maps: The Art of the Chart (.85 Hrs)
- Radio Navigation: The Frequency Flyer Program (1.9 Hrs)
- Understanding Weather: Looking for Friendly Skies (5.8 Hrs)
- Weather Charts and Briefings: PIREPS, Progs and METARS (3.1 Hrs)
- Flight Planning: Getting There From Here (3.2 Hrs)
- Airplane Performance Charts: Know Before You Go (1.7 Hrs)
- Weight and Balance: Let’s Wait and Balance (1.4 Hrs)
- Pilot Potpourri: Neat Aeronautical Information (2.5 Hrs)
As it currently stands, you also get bonus material that consists of:
- Rod Machado’s Private/Commercial Pilot eHandbook (a $49.95 value)
- Rod Machado’s Private Pilot eWorkbook (a $19.95 value)
- Rod Machado’s How to Fly an Airplane eHandbook (a $44.95 value)
- Rod Machado’s Plane Talk eBook (a $24.95 value)
- Rod Machado’s Stick and Rudder Flight Training Syllabus
- Rod Machado’s Ground School Syllabus
Engaging Presentation of Content
To say that studying to learn how to fly isn’t nearly as exciting as actually getting inside the cockpit and flying a plane might be the understatement of the century.
Thankfully, I found that Rod manages to take the pain out of studying due to the engaging manner in which the content is presented.
It is never dry or boring thanks to the widely animated and highly interactive way in which the material is presented, as well as the generous use of images and diagrams on nearly every page in the case of the bonus eBook material.
Rod is even successful in throwing in some humor for good measure too and to further help keep you engaged.
To make sure what you learn sticks, at the end of each lesson, there are several knowledge questions that are similar to those that you will find on the FAA exam.
At the end of this course, you are provided with a graduation certificate and endorsement to take the private pilot knowledge exam.
Rod has been teaching students to learn how to fly for decades, so it’s clear that he understands the value and importance of students being able to ask questions and get clarification on certain hard-to-understand topics.
I, therefore, appreciated how Rod himself quickly took the time to answer any questions I had in his naturally friendly and helpful style.
Preview the Course
If you’re still undecided, take a look at the following preview to see if how the material is presented resonates with you.
Best Ground School for Different Learning Styles: Part Time Pilot Private Pilot Online Ground School
I really like how Part Time Pilot’s ground school covers all the bases in learning styles to ensure that students will be able to retain everything they need to learn to ace the FAA knowledge test, including:
- Written lessons
- Video lessons
- Practice tests
- Live lessons
- Community conversations
- Study guides
- Flash cards
- Answer explanations
- Audio lessons
Compared to all other online ground schools, I found that Part Time Pilot easily comes out on top in the range of content they offer.
Additionally, anyone who purchases the course is eligible to apply for a $1,000 scholarship, which is a nice touch and makes Part Time Pilot unique in this aspect.
Part Time Pilot make a point of offering a money-back guarantee because they claim that they have yet to have a single student not pass their exam.
Best Ground School for On-the-Go Students: Sporty’s Private Pilot Learn to Fly
In my opinion, the advantage of Sporty’s course over others is their TV and phone app that offers pilots a new dynamic to learning the content and at any time they want.
The course is self-paced, and you can expect it to take you approximately 15 hours to go through all the content.
Multiple CFIs have contributed to the course, which can be good and bad.
Good because you get to experience different teaching styles of several instructors, and it can avoid boredom from setting in; bad because you may not resonate with how any one of the instructors present the material.
Best Newly Redesigned Course: Gleim Aviation Online Ground School
The Gleim Private Pilot Online Ground School is a self-paced course that will you take you approximately 35 hours to complete.
Gleim have recently redesigned the interface of their course to make navigation of all the different course elements such as study guides, quizzes, and additional resources easier, and also added new study guides, illustrations, and videos.
The biggest downside of Gleim’s course is that it is subscription based and only valid for 12 months.
While it’s likely that you will take the FAA written test within 12 months, it’s always good to have the option to refer back to the material every now and again, which Gleim unfortunately make you have to pay again for.
Best Course for Completeness: ASA Online Ground School
I found that ASA’s online ground school isn’t the most well-designed or aesthetically pleasing course out there, but considering that they have been designing aviation training products for more than 80 years, it was no surprise when I saw that everything you need to learn is covered.
Arguably, I found the presentation of the content to be quite dry, though, which might put some students off, especially as there is nearly 11 hours of video presentations.