Value of an IFR Ground School for a Private Pilot

What do you think… Is there a value for a private pilot to attend an instrument rating ground school if they aren’t pursuing an Instrument rating?

I hardly expect a debate on this, the answer is obvious and it is YES. There is absolutely a value in this.

class room

Private pilots can learn a great deal by participating in an instrument ground school course. A variety of the private pilot aeronautical knowledge subject areas are explored in much more detail during an instrument ground school!

I took an IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) ground school many years ago during college as part of the Part 141 training program in our professional pilot curriculum at Bridgewater State College (now University). At the time I was newly minted private pilot with aspirations of being a flight instructor before graduate school. I took the instrument ground course while also completing instrument flight training, this is a more natural fit. But it isn’t the only one…

Years ago, I teamed up with some other instructors to teach an IFR ground school, I managed the ground school courses for the flight school and co-taught the private course. I had two other instructors (CFIIs) teach the instrument course, but I attended and taught a couple of subjects during the course as well. That instrument class was the largest ground school we offered with almost 30 participants enrolled for the 7-week course. The make up of the course attendees was a wide cross-section of the local pilot population:

-Private Pilots looking to learn more but not presently pursing and IFR rating

-Private pilots starting or presently taking instrument flight lessons

-Instrument rated pilots looking for a thorough review of the aeronautical knowledge related to the instrument rating

The first group is the focus of this post. These pilots were proactively trying to learn more than they were required to know, quite an admirable trait. The instrument rating provides pilots with all kinds of instrument related knowledge but it also provides pilots with a more in-depth knowledge of a variety of aeronautical areas. A couple of examples include aircraft systems, aero medical factors and aviation weather. The instrument rating requires more of a pilot than the private pilot certificate; more is demanded of the pilot to attain the additional privileges associated with flying in the clouds… This means that an IFR ground school has a lot to offer private pilots even if they are not presently looking to earn an IFR rating.

Whether it is a deeper knowledge of aircraft systems or a better understanding of weather phenomenon, an IFR ground school can help a private pilot learn more and thus be better as a pilot in command. Remember, as the FAA often reminds us in the “airport world,” it is okay to exceed the standard! Another benefit is that these pilots will have a taste of IFR and that could wet their appetite enough to come back to pursue their instrument rating. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, attendees will learn the meaning of “final approach fix.” That way when the local cowboy (slinger) comes shooting into the traffic pattern on the GPS approach, straight in to final, the ground school attendee will actually understand their radio calls…

-Fly safe, @MTElia1B9


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