Supplementing Ground School
A typical ground school could be six weeks up to one college semester. This relatively short period limits the amount of knowledge that a student will absorb. The main focus of the ground school is to prepare for the FAA knowledge exam which leaves many chart details undiscovered. As an instructor your responsibility is to fill in the gaps of knowledge in all areas and get your students beyond the rote level of learning. It may be necessary to spend quality one-on-one time with them to ensure their knowledge is complete. With regard to charts and airspace there are some pretty common weak areas.
One approach I like is to get two or three students together in a “mini” class and have them work together in planning a cross-country flight. I like to use a chart from some unfamiliar region to challenge the student’s knowledge and ability to correctly identify the various classes of airspace. Be sure to review - and teach as necessary – information such as VOR frequency boxes, what the small “H”, “A”, and “T” provide, ask the student to describe how to use the 122.1R frequency and to describe the difference between the “IR” and “VR” military airways. Find an airport with surface based Class E and ask the students if they can land there as a VFR pilot with a ceiling of 3,000 ft. and 2 1⁄2 miles visibility. Be ready to explain why they can not when they seem puzzled.
Since the airspace system is complex and charts are overwhelming to the new student be sure to start their schooling with the area around the training airport and work outward as they progress. The local area is sufficient during pre-solo training and you can expand their knowledge of the chart when they begin cross-country training.