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Free Online Private Pilot Ground School for High School Students

The Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) will host and offer a free online, semester-length Private Pilot Ground School (PPGS) course for high school students statewide. The course, which will be offered in partnership with Thomas Nelson Community College (becoming Virginia Peninsula Community College in July 2022), requires 60 hours of coursework and will be offered as a hybrid course, including live instructional hours and offline readings and assignments. Students who complete the course will be eligible to receive the instructor’s signature on their FAA Private Pilot’s License application enabling them to take the FAA knowledge exam.

VSGC plans to offer the course to 100 selected students who aspire to be commercial pilots in summer 2022 and fall 2022 offerings with 50 students targeted for each session. Application is currently open for the summer session.

The Private Pilot Ground School program is a rigorous program in which students immerse themselves in learning about weather, electronic navigation, flight systems and operations, and FAA regulations.  The competitive application process is open to high school students statewide. Qualified applicants must be U.S. citizens, Virginia residents, and 16 years old by the start of the Academy session.  They must have a health status that would enable them to pass an FAA flight physical exam. In order to participate in the program, students must make themselves fully available for all course activities between June 20 and August 12, 2022. The course meets live on Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The application deadline is May 13, 2022.  Serious students can learn more about the Private Pilot Ground School course and access the application link at

Students who successfully complete the course will be eligible to apply for one of eleven competitive flight scholarships that will be provide 40 hours of flight training.

For any questions on this program, please contact Virginia Space Grant Consortium Education Program Coordinator, Ian Cawthray, Students accepted into the course will be working directly with their community college instructor once the program begins and will complete paperwork required by Thomas Nelson Community College also at no cost to them.

This course would typically cost students about $2000 but is being offered at no tuition cost to selected students through an FAA grant to the Virginia Space Grant Consortium’s Virginia Pilot Pathways Program. Note: Each student will be required to purchase their own course materials through Amazon at a cost of about $50.