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San Diego Air & Space Museum offers Ground School to aspiring pilots

The eight session course costs $299 and prepares students to pass FAA written exam.

SAN DIEGO — The MCAS Miramar Air Show is cleared for take-off on September 23-25. In this Zevely Zone, I visited the San Diego Air & Space Museum to show you how you can become a pilot yourself. 

The San Diego Air & Space Museum is not just a place to see aircraft: now you can learn what it takes to fly them too!  

Dawn Ferreira's father was a Naval aviation mechanic. As a child she always wanted to become a pilot. "When you fly you don't think about anything else you just navigate and aviate," said Dawn. Last year, Dawn signed up for Pilot Ground School at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. "It's a lot of work but it was a lot of fun to do here," said Dawn.  

Credit: San Diego Air & Space Museum

The program started in 2005. Classes for their next session begin in October. "I appreciate you. You made it fun," said Dawn to her instructor was Rossco Davis. "I am a retired Naval aviator and it's not my knowledge to keep I like to be able to share it with folks," said Rossco. 

He flew jets and helicopters in the Navy for 17 years and he says you can become a pilot too. Rossco says people can come in who don't know anything about flying. "Absolutely this ground school is for people who are not the initiated they don't have prior qualifications," said Rossco.

Credit: San Diego Air & Space Museum

The program helps aspiring pilots pass the FAA's written exam. If someone comes in and takes the first course and doesn't like it, they receive a refund. As for Dawn, she took one class, and her interest took off. She is now a daredevil in the air. "For sure I am yeah," said Dawn. 

She passed her FAA exam and is now doing barrel rolls over San Diego. Her advice for anyone who wants to become a pilot. "I would say do it. It was really easy and super fun. It is really motivating, once you start flying you can't stop," said Dawn.

If you've ever wanted to put your head in the clouds, Dawn says you can't beat the view. "It's pretty awesome, I mean second to none right?" she said. Enrollment has begun for a Private Pilot Ground School program at the Museum’s location in Balboa Park, with classes beginning in October 2022 and finishing on December 17, 2022.

Credit: San Diego Air & Space Museum

The eight week course prepares attendees to take the written examination for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Private Pilot Knowledge Test. Students can take the course either prior to or in conjunction with their own outside flight training.

Credit: San Diego Air & Space Museum

“Our Ground School is a fast-paced, all-inclusive overview for the beginner or a solid refresher for former pilots,” said Rossco. “We aim to reach new and non-traditional audiences for pilot training -- the skeptics, the unsure, and the uninitiated -- who might shy away from formal commercial flight schools. We have no planes to rent, no fuel to sell, no ulterior motives. We just want more people to learn what it takes to fly!”

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If you're interested in the MCAS Miramar Air Show, it is free to the public and upgraded seating options are now on sale. For ticket information, COVID-19 protocols, business and vendor opportunities, and more, please visit the Miramar Air Show website at miramarairshow.com. 

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As for pilot classes, they are planned for a minimum of 8 students and a maximum of 14. Each class is offered once weekly on Saturdays from 10:15 am to 3:15 pm. Classes are priced at $299 (or a discounted $279 for Museum members) for the entire 8-session course. Registration begins immediately via the museum’s website.

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