Ground schoolin’

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working steadily on ground school for my pilot license.  The first observation I have is…  there is a LOT of stuff to learn and remember!  I have heard of 3-day and 1-week ground schools.  I cannot understand how someone could learn everything needed, with adequate retention, from a short school such as that.  It’s not like this is a license exam for Amateur Radio, where you can have all of your books and reference materials on hand while operating.  You’ve got to remember all of the information needed for flying while in the air, making immediate decisions.  I’m sure I could “exam cram” and pass the knowledge test in a few days, but I’d prefer to take long enough to learn the material in a way that I’ll be able to retain it well past the exam.

Some of the stuff I knew from my childhood, when I learned a lot about how airplanes fly, how airfoils work, etc.  A lot of the information is what I think of as “learnable”.  Things like pressure altitude, density altitude, radio procedures, etc are just new skills and science that needs to be learned.  Some of it, though, will just require rote memorization.  VFR minimums, for example, have no real “rules” that can be learned and applied – there’s just a chart of rules that needs to be memorized in order to pass the exam.  That, for me, is the tough part.  It’s made a little easier for me by taking my time.  I can study the VFR minimums chart, then as I look outside I can quiz myself on whether it’s VFR conditions or not, why or why not, and so on.

I know this isn’t the fastest way to do it, but I’m not paying instructor time yet and I’d rather know it than just remember it long enough to pass the knowledge test.