16.687: Private Pilot Ground School

Next class: January 2018 (free and open to the public)

Site Home : Teaching : One Course

Schedule and room: Credit for registered MIT students: 3 units, pass/fail

Bring camping supplies! We will take short breaks, but there are talks at lunch time.

Sign up: via this Google Form.

The class is now oversubscribed (limited by the classroom), but if you don't mind sharing a chair we might be able to squeeze you in! Also, we will try to make the lectures available as videos.

Read in advance:

Please do read all of the above chapters in an evening or two. Write down your questions. Don't worry if you are confused. We are going to cover this material during the class as well.

Official Blurb

Would you like to fly a plane, helicopter, or commercial drone? Or understand the engineering behind today's human-occupied aircraft and air traffic control system? Come spend 3 days with us and learn everything that an FAA-certificated Private pilot or Remote Pilot needs to know for the official knowledge test.

The course includes qualitative aerodynamics, airplane and helicopter systems, practical meteorology, navigation and cross-country flight planning, and human factors. We present the FAA-required theory, pose some thought-experiments, and offer practical advice based on instructors' real-world experience.

Course staff: Philip Greenspun, an FAA Airline Transport Pilot and Flight Instructor for both airplanes and helicopters, MIT alum (Course 18 S.B.; Course 6 Ph.D); Tina Prabha Srivastava, pilot and MIT alum (Course 16 S.B.; System Design and Management S.M.; Engineering Systems Design Ph.D, supervised in Course 16, ESD, Sloan); and Matt Guthmiller, a Course 6 undergraduate who flew a 6-seat Bonanza around the world at age 19.

Prerequisites: About two evenings of reading (see above). Download ForeFlight (iOS only) or Garmin Pilot (Android or iOS) and set yourself up with a 30-day free trial. Bring your tablet or phone to class and also a laptop, if convenient. In-class exercises will be done in pairs, so you don't need to have your own devices.


After the Course

Take the FAA knowledge test at a local flight school, e.g., East Coast Aero Club. Start flying at one of our local airports. Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts (KBED) is the closest. Lawrence (KLWM) is also popular with MIT students. Beverly (KBVY) and Norwood (KOWD) are also nearby. All of these airports have flight schools, with Bedford being the most popular. You'll need about 50 hours in an airplane or helicopter to get your pilot certificate, so you should be able to finish during the summer.