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Private Pilot Ground School Requirements

Pilot ground school is an essential part of any student pilot’s training. In addition to flight training, you’ll need to undergo more traditional classroom work that teaches you the principles of being a competent aviator. If you’re getting ready to start flying lessons, here are some things you should know about ground school – let’s take a look.

What Is Ground School?

Ground school is one of the two parts of the overall certification process, with the other being flight training. On the path to becoming a competent pilot, you’ll need to successfully complete both. On a high level, private pilot ground school teaches you about things like flight principles, the navigation process, meteorology and many other important subjects related to aviation. At its conclusion, you’ll need to pass the FAA Airman Knowledge Test with a passing grade of at least 70 percent to become officially certified.

Is Ground School Required For Private Pilots?

Although ground school isn’t required to fly a plane, some form of ground school is required to become a licensed private pilot and to fly solo. There are three main ways to undergo ground school, including:



The method you choose from above will depend on whether your flight school operates under Part 61 or Part 141 as it pertains to Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). The latter requires a student to pass an FAA-approved ground course. 


Students at Part 61 schools, however, get their ground training from an authorized instructor or need to pass a home-study program equivalent. Regardless, in the end, you must pass the Airman Knowledge Test with a score of 70 percent or higher for certification.

How Long Does It Take To Complete Private Pilot Ground School?

The length it takes to complete ground school for a private pilot license will again depend on whether you’re training under Part 61 or Part 141. Because Part 141 schools are required to follow a more rigid curriculum and schedule, ground school usually takes at least one to two months.


On the other hand, Part 61 you can finish ground school at your own pace – whether that’s in a few weeks or a few months, it’s up to you. Your flight instructor will help develop your schedule around your preferences, while self-study resources and at-home courses allow you to make improvements outside the classroom.

How To Prepare For Ground School

If you’re excited to get started with your first ground school lesson, there are a few ways you can prepare. Fist, you’ll need to complete three requirements as defined by the FAA:


  • Be at least 16 years old as a student pilot or 17 years old to obtain a pilot certificate. 
  • Pass a physical exam from a medical examiner designated by the FAA and obtain the proper medical certificate. 
  • Be able to speak, read and understand English.


Once the above criteria is met, you can sign up for flight school and start absorbing the many lessons that are about to be put on your plate. For a head start, review the concepts below, and you’ll be off to a great start on your first day.

Principles Of Flight

One of the most basic yet important lessons you’ll learn is how a plane flies. Familiarize yourself with the four main forces of flight, including thrust, drag, lift and weight. In simple terms, a plane is able to fly because an engine thrusts it forward, increasing airflow over the wings. As airflow increases, it pushes down toward the ground with more force, which lifts it upward. As the engine’s thrust is reduced, drag increases, causing the aircraft to decelerate.


As you progress through ground school, you’ll become a master at meteorology. Pilots always have to think critically about the weather, as it could mean trouble getting caught in heavy wind, clouds or a storm while flying. Before ground school, consider reading up on different weather principles like wind speeds, high- and low-pressure systems and the Coriolis effect. 

Familiarize Yourself With Flight Maneuvers & Controls

During ground school, you’ll be taught about different maneuvers and flight controls that you’ll eventually practice in the sky. You don’t want to be caught by surprise while flying. Know the four fundamentals of flight, including straight-and-level flight, turns, climbs and descents. These allow you to complete the six motions of flight: bank, pitch and yaw, as well as horizontal, vertical and lateral movement. Additionally, obtain a high level overview of certain cockpit elements, like the altimeter, landing gear controls, airspeed indicators and navigation charts.

Are you ready to start ground school?

Ground school is a necessary component of the overall flight training process. And the team of certified instructors at Inflight Pilot Training are ready to help you successfully reach certification. Whether you want to pursue a license for fun or as a career, the first step is finding a school who will foster a healthy learning environment. We’ve given countless people the ability to take control and soar the skies, through accelerated pilot programs, commercial licensing, ATP certification and more.

Let our diverse team of CFIs elevate your learning experience as you take to the skies. If you’re interested in learning more about Inflight programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.