Below you’ll find my review of Jason Schappert’s Online Ground School, launched August 8th, 2010. I was given access (a sneak peak, if you will) into the Online Ground School, from which I was able to explore and form an opinion as to its worth to student pilots.
Of course, I’m not authorized to share my log-in credentials with you, but while I was in there I couldn’t help but collect several screenshots to share with you and sort of “take you with me” ; )
As always, my primary goal is to provide you with a thorough breakdown and honest opinion of the product/service being reviewed in order to better prepare you to make a well-informed decision when choosing which educational resources you’ll use to help you become a safe and competent pilot, without wasting a ton of money.
That being said, we’ll start with the standard methodology that I use to help me decide which educational resources fly and which are lame ducks:
The best ground school provides the means to prepare you to be the safest and most competent pilot you can be in the least amount time time and smallest financial commitment possible.
The best ground school is something that takes you beyond test preparation. It not only teaches you the answers to the FAA knowledge test and the flight exam (oral and checkride), but it helps you build a solid understanding of the material—the how and why behind the answers. It teaches you the art of flying as well as the science behind it. It guides you through the fantastic world of aviation from before you ever step into the cockpit, to your cross country flights, and beyond your checkride. That is how I define the best ground school.
Now, there are certain criteria that I have extracted from this definition that I will apply to the ground school in review in order to evaluate how it stacks up. They are as follows:
- Content- Is the information accurate, reliable and useful? How much information is available?
- Delivery- How is the information delivered? By which medium/media? How is it accessed and for what duration? What is the overall tone and aesthetic value of the information? Is the interface user friendly?
- Financial- What is the financial commitment? What are the options, the guarantee and estimated total cost?
- X-Factor(s) – What are the factors that make the ground school unique/stand out?
The above criteria are applied to and used to rate the ground school. My summary, consisting of the wings up (the pros) and wings downs (cons) and final recommendation, is displayed at the end of the review.
Now let’s get down to business…
Jason Schappert’s Online Ground School
- Is the information accurate, and reliable?
Yes. I believe that the information presented in the Online Ground School is accurate and reliable based on three reasons: The professional background of Jason Schappert and his team of developers, the results of my own personal BS test, and the online format of the ground school.
According to Jason, he and a team of master CFII’s spend over two years developing the online ground school. Mr. Schappert, himself, despite his young age, operates Schapp Aviation in Florida, where he is a flight instructor with several ratings including: instrument, commercial, multi, AGI, CFI, and CFII. He was also awarded the distinction of “Collegiate Flight Instructor of the Year” at NIFA 2008 (an event sponsored by the AOPA). Considering his profession, providing inaccurate information to make a quick buck would not be in his best interest.
And while these credentials would be enough for the average person, I tend to be a bit skeptical. So I took it a step further….through my BS test. Basically I took the information presented in the first two lessons (“Why Airplanes Fly” and “What is my Airplane Telling Me?”) and compared it to the information found in the ”Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge” distributed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA-H-8083-25A). The information presented in the Online Ground School was found to be consistent with that presented in the FAA’s handbook.
I also find the fact that it is delivered online as having the potential to be more current because the information can be updated more easily on the production side. Schappert proves this in Lesson 10.6 “Declaring an Emergency” when he informs us that the frequency 121.5 is no longer monitored and gives us suggestions about what to do instead.
Based upon the developer’s credentials, the results of my own personal BS test, and the online format of the ground school, I find it reasonable to believe that the information provided in the Online Ground School is accurate and reliable.
- How much information is available?
Information can be found in four areas: Private Pilot Lessons, Weather, Bonus, and the Forum.
Private Pilot Lessons- This area consists of 15 lessons (see screenshot) starting from the very basic concepts of aerodynamics and ending with the “Simulated Checkride“. Unfortunately I was only able to access the first half of the lessons due to the fact that I reviewed it before the official launch (that is before if was fully completed). However based on what I found in Lessons 1-10 and the titles of the remaining lessons it is reasonable to conclude that this online ground school is designed to guide student pilots from the very beginning to beyond the checkride.
Weather and Flight Planning Area- The Weather and Flight Planning Area will no doubt be of use to student pilots during their flight training. Get your TAFs METARs, charts, AirNav, DUATS, Airport directory, and more all in one place. Oh and the live animated weather radars with standard and enhanced infrared, radar-satellite combo, water vapor, and visible radar images, are pretty handy as well.
Bonus- There are several bonuses offered in this area consisting of HD videos, live trainings, and downloadable training documents. These include:
- Access to Live Weekly Workshops and Monthly Mock Checkrides
- Recorded Monthly Mock Checkrides (Gold Members only)
- Recorded Weekly Teachings Archive (Gold and Silver members only)
- Premium Monthly Newsletter and archives (Gold Members only)
- Member Spotlight (Student interviews)
- Jason’s Personal Flight Training Documents (X-Country Nav Log, Checkride Checklist, Checkride Blueprint)
- The Secret Webinars (Gold Members Only)
Forum- Online Ground School students receive access to a forum where they can meet and interact with other student pilots as well as Jason Schappert himself. Students are allowed to post in three threads: “Ask Jason a Question” (that’s self-explanatory), “Hanger Talk” (a place to share stories and ask general questions), and “Feature Requests” (a place for suggestions to improve the ground school). Students can send each other private messages and print out posts.
The networking potential is enormous here, whether it be to find an aviation buddy or something more professional, such as someone to help get your foot in the door of the commercial aviation industry.
- In which medium/media is the information delivered?
The Online Ground School is rich with multimedia features including: Over 120 HD videos, Live webinars and trainings, a forum, premium newsletter, personal flight documents (downloadable) and interactive quizzes.
- How is the information accessed and for what duration?
The information is accessed with a computer and an internet connection. The higher the connection speed the better, considering that the course is taught in large part with over 120 HD videos. Certain files, such as ”Jason’s Personal Flight Documents” can be downloaded. To the best of my knowledge, the recorded webinars, trainings, and videos are not made available for download.
Access to the ground school is terminated when the monthly subscription is cancelled.
- What is the overall tone and aesthetic value of the information?
Jason Schappert presents himself as a friendly yet well-qualified/competent flight training adviser. I am impressed by his ability to breakdown seemingly complex systems (such as the instrument panel) into easy to remember pieces and concepts. A great example of this is demonstrated in Lessons 2.2 and 2.3 when Schappert takes us “inside” the attitude indicator and altimeter and makes comparisons to “spinning tops” and “accordions“. Seriousness aside, he’s not afraid to inject some humor in there every once and awhile. He keeps flight training fresh, interesting, and fun.
Aesthetically speaking, the overall “look” of the Online Ground School is refreshing compared to the look of other ground schools….though that’s not saying much. The lessons are easy on the eyes, as most of the info appears and disappears on the face of a green chalkboard. The “classroom” theme is consistent throughout the ground school. Interestingly enough, it does compliment that sort of community classroom feel, though I’m typically sitting in a room alone at my computer.
The HD videos (the ones I has access to) looked decent. Definitely better quality than some of the VHS/Beta tape footage I’ve seen on some flight training DVDs. I’ve also seen some sharp simulation graphics in the sales video, though I did not have access to those lessons at the time of this review. There were also a few vide0/audio syncing issues that need to be worked out on at least one of the videos. Overall, though, the aesthetic quality is far above average.
- Is the interface user-friendly?
For the most part, the Online Ground School is easy to navigate. I would like to see a more user-friendly system when it comes to the quizzes. I know that some courses allow you to mark questions you are unsure of to enable you to revisit them later. This Online Ground School does not yet offer that capability. The quizzed do provide explanations of the answers though, which is a plus. It would also be nice if it allowed for the figures and graphs on the quizzes to “pop-out” instead of having to scroll up and down over and over again. That gets annoying. Overall though, the user-friendliness of the interface is average. Nothing mind-blowing, and could be better.
- How does the Online Ground School charge?
Unlike any other Ground School program out there that I am currently aware of, Jason Schappert’s Online Ground School charges on a monthly basis. It is a subscription based program that allows you to “pay as you go each month“.
- What are the enrollment options?
Three Levels- Bronze, Silver, and Gold. See Chart for details——>
- What is the estimated total cost?
Depends on the level in which you enroll and the duration of your subscription. During launch week, you can get locked in for as low as $77/month for a Bronze membership, $97/month for Silver, $110/month for Gold. Schappert claims that these rates will climb up to the standard after Aug. 15th, 2010. The standard rates will be $97/month for Bronze, $110/month for Silver, and $147/month for Gold. So assuming that you enroll during the launch week at the discounted rate, and your flight training lasts 4 months (about average length), your ground school would cost just $308 for Bronze, and $440 for Gold. At standard rates for the same 4 month duration, you’re looking at $388 for Bronze and $588 for Gold.
- Is there a guarantee? And what is it?
Yes, there is a guarantee. Other than the standard 30-day full money back guarantee, if you fail your checkride, Jason Schappert has agreed to refund your full investment in the Online Ground School AND pay for your checkride. Hypothetically, if you are a Gold Member for 4-months ($588) and pay for your checkride ($400) and fail, you will be receiving $988 from Jason Schappert. But hopefully you will never fail your checkride, for your own sake, as well as Jason’s : )
The X-Factors (What sets it apart)
- Live Elements (Weekly/Month Live trainings)
- Community Based (The forum and live trainings)
- The Price/Guarantee (A real bargain; amazing guarantee)
- Personal Touch (Direct access to Jason Schappert)
- The course goes above and beyond test preparation- The information is solid; accurate and reliable. It is designed not only to help you pass your tests but even more so, to become a safe and competent pilot. It delves into the background of the material, the how and why, rather than just skimming the surface.
- Live Elements Rock- You can have direct access to the guy that created the course. You learn with him and other students every week in and once per month for mock checkrides, in real time. You even have a forum to share stories and questions with other student pilots going through the same process. Its the live/community based learning elements that other courses simply are not currently offering.
- The price is beyond reasonable- It would cost me at least twice as much per month to sit down with my instructor and cover the information that is available in this program. And then I’d still be devoid of the networking and community benefits offered by the Online Ground School. Considering the quantity, quality, and diversity of the information available in this ground school, the price is a steal.
- The guarantee is beyond generous- Jason Schappert is so confident in his course that if you fail your checkride using his materials and instruction, he will not only reimburse you for the ground school, but also for the checkride. That sort of guarantee can’t be found anywhere else.
- You can’t put it on the shelf- Access to most of the information (that which is not downloadable) is dependent upon how long you decide to continue to pay for membership.
- Instruction is internet access dependent- You must have access to the internet in order to access the instructional videos (which is the majority of the educational information). At the time of this review, the videos are not available for download, nor are their transcriptions made available to print off. Though, there are a few resources that are available for download. Along the same lines, it helps to have a high-speed internet connection, as the HD videos could take awhile to load on dial-up.
- The interface could be more user-friendly- I’d like to see pop-out graphs and figures in the quizzes as well as the capability of marking troublesome questions to revisit in the future. Also, in the Private Pilot Lessons area, it would be nice to have a side navigation of all of the modules in the lesson so that one could skip around more easily.
- Opening Day Kinks- Found a few kinks in the audio and video. Sometimes audio and video did not sync well. Sometimes the audio sounded like Rosie from the Jetsons after she had been clobbered in the head by a Spacely Sprocket. To be fair though, I reviewed the Online Ground School right before it was launched. There will always be a few kinks to work out in the beginning, especially within a program of this magnitude, and I am confident that they will be worked out before much longer, possibly by the time you read this review. I plan to update this review regularly just to be safe.
If you are looking for a magic bullet, this isn’t it. But to be fair, you won’t find a magic bullet anywhere as it does not exist. As with any educational resource, the determining factor towards your success will be how much time and focus you dedicate to learning the material. That being said, if you are looking for high-quality information delivered with a personal touch and live and interactive elements to go above and beyond preparing you for your flight training exams, I recommend checking out Jason Schappert’s Online Ground School.
At the time of this review, I have not seen anything as comprehensive on the market. It combines tried and true aviation knowledge with the power of HD video, social networking, and the live/interactive training that spans across geographic barriers. It is student pilot instruction meets the 21st Century. You have the opportunity to have direct access to another very knowledgeable and friendly instructor for much less (dollar-wise) than it would cost to pay your current instructor to sit down with you and cover all of the information you need to learn on the ground to make you a safe and competent pilot. And the guarantee is simply unheard of.
Personally, I see Jason Schappert’s Online Ground School as the Dark Horse of the aviation education industry. But the word is spreading, and I predict that those well-known aviation education leaders at the top won’t be sitting comfortably for much longer. Regardless of where you are in your flight training, Jason Schappert’s Online Ground School is at the very least, worthy of your serious consideration. To see more and/or make a purchase click the link:
FULL DISCLOSURE- As always, I am completely forthright with my affiliations. If you click one of the links above, find that the Online Ground School is right for you, and decide to purchase it, I will receive a small commission for providing you with the link. This is a small commission that I can use to help maintain this site and continue providing valuable flight training tips and education resources at no cost to you. Keep in mind, if I didn’t have your best interest in mind, I would not have spent hours of my personal time, on the weekend, to pick apart the Online Ground School and provide you with a thorough review. Many other bloggers would not have even provided you with a disclosure.
BOTTOM LINE— If you believe it’s right for you, and appreciate my efforts, then click here, make the purchase and let me know what you think. I believe you will be more than satisfied.
IF you DO NOT think it is right for you, but still appreciate my efforts, then DO NOT MAKE A PURCHASE, just leave me a nice comment, a “like”, or that star rating thing-a-ma-jig at the bottom of the post : ) No worries, I will still be providing valuable flight training tips at no cost to you. Cool?
See ya above the clouds!
VN:F [1.9.6_1107]Jason Schappert's Online Ground School Review,