Sporty’s Pilot Shop has offered home training courses for over 20 years, beginning with VHS tapes and then DVD and online training products. Last week, the company introduced the latest version of its course, and for the first time there is a dedicated app for iPad/iPhone. Let’s take a look at some of the features.
Sporty’s Learn to Fly app is really three courses in one, with individual tracks for the Sport, Recreational and Private Pilot licenses. Pilots can stop at the Sport or Recreational, or use them as stepping stones to the Private certificate (an approach used in Sporty’s flight school). Alternately, users can go straight to the Private license with a self-contained course of study.
It is a universal app for iPhone and iPad, so pilots can buy it once and use it on both devices. It includes five major sections:
- Video training is clearly the heart of the app, with over 14 hours of video included. It’s a nice mix of in-cockpit video and 3D animations, with fast-paced segments averaging around 8 minutes. There are dozens of Air Facts segments with former Flying magazine editor Richard Collins that are a quite informative. Pilots can instantly watch any of the video by streaming it, but there is also a powerful download manager. This allows the user to quickly download individual segments for offline viewing.
- Written test prep is a necessary evil for most pilots, so Sporty’s course includes a full-featured tool, with three modes of operation. Learning mode allows the user to study certain subject matter areas, and each question includes the correct answer plus explanations and references for additional study. Flashcard mode displays questions without multiple choice answers, ensuring pilots don’t just memorize answers. Finally, Test mode simulates an actual FAA written test, down to the time limit. Test scores are saved for progress tracking.
- The Maneuvers Guide offers animations of all the important maneuvers in the PTS, from steep turns to crosswind landings. Text descriptions accompany the animations, and include completion standards and common errors. This section could even be used in the cockpit, with an instructor briefing each maneuver on his iPad before actually flying it.
- A full Practical Test Standards Study Guide is included, showing every task a prospective pilot can be tested on during the checkride. Uniquely, Sporty’s has cross-referenced every maneuver to the video section, with a simple tap on a link bringing up the right segment. It’s a great tool for final checkride prep.
- Finally, the Training Course Outline provides a complete training syllabus–both ground and flight lessons. It’s a detailed course of study to be used by student and instructor alike, and can be printed for permanent reference.
After watching all of the video segments and passing two practice written tests with scores of 80% or more, students can even get the required CFI sign-off for the written test right from the app. Pilots can also get FAA WINGS credit from the app.
The app is available as a free trial in the App Store, and costs $199.99 to purchase the full course. For more information, see sportys.com/courses.