Greetings from a Student Pilot!
Hey fellow aviators!

I just started Sporty's Learn to Fly online course for ground school, with ASA's "The Complete Private Pilot" by Bob Gardner for supplementary material. I've been fascinated by planes since around age 7 and flew with my Aviation Club in high school from 1997 through 2001.

Question: Is it possible to go through my entire ground school training and FAA Knowledge Exam without CFI assistance? I, like many people, don't have the money (yet) for an instructor, so I can't exactly call someone up and ask questions when I get confused. How should I handle that? Thank you and fly safe!

David Wilcox
Lombard, IL
26 Replies
Hoss At AOPA
196 Posts
Hi David,

The answer to your question is yes, it is possible to complete a ground school course and your Private Pilot Aeronautical Knowledge Test without being in direct contact with a CFI. As long as your course of study results in a sign-off/endorsement for the knowledge test that is.

AOPA does have a member benefit of being able to contact the Pilot Information Center (PIC) with any number of aeronautical questions you may have. We're all experienced pilots/instructors and the reason we exist is to help members with their aviation questions. If you aren't already a member I would recommend signing up for a free 6 month membership on our website so you have access to this benefit.

And while being able to contact the PIC with your questions won't be a replacement for talking with a CFI face to face while you train, it can help you understand some of the harder to grasp information and keep you moving in your studies.

You can contact the PIC staff through this site (Online PIC), email us at pilotassist@aopa.org , or give us a call at 1-800-USA-AOPA.

Good luck with your studies.
Ronald Levy
1373 Posts
David Wilcox:
I just started Sporty's Learn to Fly online course for ground school, ...
Question: Is it possible to go through my entire ground school training and FAA Knowledge Exam without CFI assistance? ...I can't exactly call someone up and ask questions when I get confused. How should I handle that? 

Sporty's provides the CFI endorsement upon completion of that course.  In addition, their "Ask a CFI" messaging feature lets you get answers to your questions from one of their staff CFI's.  Those are nice features not availalble from all course providers.

https://www.sportys.com/learn-to-fly-course-private-pilot-test-prep-online-app-and-tv.html
 

Thank you, Ronald and Hoss, for your responses! I'll be making maximum use of these discussion boards (and Sporty's CFIs), so I'm pretty confident of my progress.😀
I think so. I used Sporty's (but I did have my CFI for questions).  I also used the Sporty's "ask a CFI" thing a couple of times. Be sure to read the FAA manuals: Airplane Flying Handbook and PHAK.  I used the Gleim test prep book, and worked through all of them (it's a lot), and then used the Sporty's for practice tests. Or, work through ALL the Sporty's prep questions (not just take practice tests of 60 questions or so, just choose them all)
Regarding Ground School without being out of pocket at $50 an hour, there are numerous free ground schools on the internet.   That said, I am of the opinion that the best approach is to fly the real aircraft for several lessons as soon as you can.  Then Ground School takes on a more realistic and personal perspective.   Ideas get connected so much better to actual flight.   

For others reading this thread, another route is to study for and successfully pass the Advanced Ground Instructor exam.   The AGI exam does not require any endorsement.   Check in advance with your CFI and gain assurance that they will then grant your endorsement to take the PPL written.   No better proof of having completed adequate study than passing the AGI.   The knowledge gained makes preparation for the AGI exam is well worth the effort.   I studied Gleim and then switched to Dauntless for example test material.   You will learn a lot along the way and PPL exam preparation will be super easy.

As an additional thought, for those who have the budget, investing in a good simulator will save you lots of hours in real world training.   The sim will pay for itself in very short order and be available for further training thereafter for years and years.    PM to me if anyone wants details on hardware and software.   
To answer David, yes, you can learn everything you need to pass the written exams on your own. I used Rod Machado’s books. I never had any logged ground instruction. That said, questions will arise, and it is more meaningful to discuss them with someone who is familiar with you and your progress. Some people suggest getting the written exam out of the way first thing. I disagree, for two reasons. First, the material will make a lot more sense and will become ingrained as you fly, so the exam will be easier after you have flown for a while. Second, the exam credit expires. Life happens. I, and some fellow students, ended up pushing up against the written exam expiration, even though we had all delayed taking the exam until we had at least soloed. DPE scheduling, finances, world wide pandemics - they can all get in the way of your practical test.