Ultralight Ground School
Frank Hofmann, Instructor

This 20 hour Ground School course consists of 16 hours in a group setting and 4 hours of self-study and a written examination. Candidates achieving a grade of 90% or better on my written examination will be granted a Certificate of Competence. The course is based on Transport Canada's Study and Reference Guide - Pilot Permit - Ultra-light Aeroplane, Doc TP 12804E.

Participants should bring any aviation books and an aeronautical chart, preferably a VTA map they own, to class.

The sections italicized and annotated with a # are meant to be activities for the participants to carry out and complete before, during or after the course.

Flight Plan


1. Publications and suggested reading: Skill - Know where to find information
Knowledge - Have absorbed what the books offer
Attitude - You never know enough
#List the books/magazines you have read.
#Why is your favourite book considered good reading by you?
#How many flying books does your own or the public library have?
#Get a copy of the T/C Recreational Pilot Study and Reference Guide TP 12467E.
#What are your responsibilities as an operator toward the general public?
#What is your profile of a good instructor?

EAA's Experimenter; EAA Ultralight Info Manual; T/C Flight Training Manual; From the Ground Up; AWARE Aviation Weather; Flying Golden Books; Weather Golden Books; Magazines; VFR Supplement; T/C literature; Stick and Rudder; Flying Ultralights; Challenger Web Site; Challenger Owners' Manual; COPA Flight; COPA Annual; etc. etc. etc.

2. Aeronautical Information Skill - networking individuals in organizations
Knowledge - Have absorbed what the books offer
Attitude - Communicate
#To what organizations do you belong?
#With how many pilots do you discuss your flying?
#What are the fixed annual costs of various licences, publications, memberships?

Flying Clubs; COPA, EAA; RAA; Owners' Associations; FSS; NOTAMS; Other Owners; Mechanics; Insurance people;

3. The Airplane Skill - evaluate the machine
Knowledge - know where the skeletons are
Attitude - There is a reason this airplane shouldn't fly.
#Watch a long-time pilot prepare his airplane.
#Observe a mechanic do work on an airplane. Could you do what he does?
#What are the known weaknesses of your airplane?
#Where are the reliable shops for engines, instruments, structure etc.? Do you have contact names?
#The pre-flight - an exercise of "Threat Analysis". What threats can you perceive before a flight?

Components - nomenclature; Materials used - steel vs. aluminum - corrosion; Approved hardware; Standards; Drilling holes; Fatigue and Flutter; Paper Work; Maintenance; Inspections; Ground Handling; Storage - wind, sunshine, rain, pollutants, inhibition; Log Book entries

4. Theory of Flight Skill - Thinking of the airplane first
Knowledge - what keeps it in the air?
Attitude - Inviolable rules
#Make a rule no pilot should ever break while airborne.
#Close your eyes and visualize controlling your airplane under various circumstances.
#Explain to a 10 year old why airplanes fly.

Airplane; Sensitivity of Lift to Speed; Controls- which controls what? interrelationship of all 4; Turns - particularly sharp turns; The importance of the Rudder Control; Drag and its variations; Wing Loading the dangers of low values; Proportion of Drag to Weight; the energy equation; Weight and Balance; Optimum airspeeds; Formation flying;

5. Engines & Propellers Skill - recognizing the symptoms
Knowledge - the relationships
Attitude - let it be part of you
#What does a good engine/propeller combination sound like?
#What engine performance degradation are you willing to accept for a flight?
#Where are you going to learn to troubleshoot engine problems?

2 Stroke engines - design advantages; Power/Displacement ratio vs. a Lycoming's; Role of stale fuel, Fuel drains, mixtures, storage, vapor pressure; Instrumentation - CHT, EGT, RPM; Breaking-in statistics; Inspection items, leaks; Propeller repair (wood) and balancing; Torquing and safetying of hardware; Refueling precautions - static electricity;

6. Navigation Skill - translating map into reality
Knowledge - know your way around efficiently
Attitude - you can't get lost
#Could you navigate your planned trip without a map?
#For how far does your feeling of being "nearby" extend?
#What do you consider the most important navigational tool to be, other than the GPS?

Map symbols and map reading technique; Control zones; Computations - time distance speed; Time, direction, lat. & long. measurements; Effect of wind - drift, g/s, return trip time; Triangle of velocities; Sample XC exercise; Radio - GPS; Different "Norths";

7. Meteorology Skill - recognize the signs
Knowledge - know the interrelationships
Attitude - strive for the big picture
#List information a cloud can reveal? Discuss your answer with an experienced pilot.
#Guess at the weather within 300 miles of you in 4 directions. Check it out with a call to the FSS.
#On what basis can you decide on whether conditions ahead will deteriorate or get better?
#Why is it important to 'tap' the altimeter during the pre-flight check?

Role of clouds in forecasts; Role of upper winds in forecasts Cloud types and flying characteristics; Low level phenomena - shear, turbulence, valley effects, rollers, thermals, cloud streets, diurnal, ceilings; Forecasting techniques - pressure tendency, wind direction, drift, cloud types, stability; The TV Weather Channel;

8. Air Regulations Skill - know why they make sense
Knowledge - know them
Attitude - they will save your bacon
#What air regulation do you consider most important?
#Which regulations do not apply to you?
#What are the differences in privileges between UL, AULA, Amateur Built and Certified aircraft?

Origin; Authorities and Responsibilities; Legalities of ownership and licences; Record keeping; Inspections; Airframe modifications;

9. Licences Skill - obtain and retain them
Knowledge - maintain proficiency
Attitude - they are a privilege
#Recite the obligations attached to having the licence.
#Under what circumstance would you consider your licence to be invalid?
#Adopt the Aimens' Model Code of Conduct

Privileges; Medicals; Fees ; Code of Conduct (AMCC)

10. Ownership Skill - juggling your life
Knowledge - know the responsibilities
Attitude - you are totally responsible
#Prepare a list of questions to ask owners.
#Identify the friends who will help you own your airplane.
#What ownership skills do you not have?

Costs fixed and operational; Storage; Options - time sharing; Liability

11. Rules of the Air Skill - Applying them all the time
Knowledge - know them
Attitude - People smarter than you established them
#Visualize your actions under varying traffic and airspace circumstances
#Write some rules for airplanes flying out of your airport or area.

Minimum Altitudes; Rights of Way; Circuits; Radio; Neighbours; Collision avoidance;

12. Canadian Airspace Skill - learn to fly in it
Knowledge - know the limits
Attitude - Everyone else is using it as they are supposed to
#Explain to a 10 year old of what the Canadian Airspace structure consists.
#Practice your radio procedures.
#Form a good mental picture of the airspace structure in your area.

Classes of Airspace; By what rules are the other aircraft operating in your airspace?; Radar coverage;

13. VFR Flight and Flight Planning Skill - planning for an efficient flight
Knowledge - know what decisions have to be made before
Attitude - always play "what if"
#What are your personal lower limits? List them.
#After you've planned a flight, give it to an experienced pilot and find out what he would have done differently.
#Who, other than your wife/husband, knows your flying habits? - "Buddy" system;
#List the "threats" existing for a planned flight.

Weather minima; Dangers of poor visibility; Sample Flight Plan; Flight Itinerary; Your personal minima; Equipment; Alternatives; Airspace considerations; Planning for efficiency;

14. Aviation Safety, Airmanship, Decisions Skill - know the factors involved
Knowledge - know yourself
Attitude - the sky doesn't tolerate mistakes
#Recount a bad decision you've made. Try working it backwards and see how far back you can go in the chain of events leading to a poor circumstance.
#How does a pilot with a long safety record operate differently from you?
#What makes a person safe?

Currency; Complacency - experience, confidence, recency of exposure, mood, relaxation; Illusions of movement - drift; Sense of urgency; Fear; Planning ahead - "what if?"; Vertigo; Vision; Eye and ear protection; Colds; Cameras, spectators, competition, peer pressure; Float Operations; Ski Operations; Land Operations; CRM; Failure Effect Mode Analysis (FEMA)

15. Pre-Solo Exam Skill - have flown the training hours
Knowledge - understood at least the points discussed in class
Attitude - you are now ready to learn

The Pre-solo is administered to students who have completed the required dual hours, have taken the ground school, and have studied the material.
The following questions are offered as a self-test in preparation for the 50 question written exam.
# How many hours do you think you should have before going solo?
# What must you absolutely know before going solo?
# What do you consider a passing mark on any flying exam?
# What is the first thing you check if an engine quits? The second?
# How far down the runway are you when you have reached half your take-off speed?
# Where does an airplane appear in relation to the horizon if it is at your height?
# How much height does an airplane (Challenger) lose with power off in a 180 degree turn?


Airspeed Control - Limits; Effect of Airspeed on Available Lift; Effect of speed on range; Effect of Gusts on landing; Controlling wing drops at different airspeeds; Controlling sink rates at different airspeeds; Effect of wind on fuel range; Checking and predicting future weather; Manoeuvring - turns at low altitude; Factors affecting Stall speed;

Have you had fun yet?


Frank Hofmann
Copyright © 2003