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Jul 19, 2017

Doctor Aviation ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

When Doctor Aviation showed up on my radar (couldn't help it), I was really excited because we were able to view the first video in the online six month aviation video training course in its entirety.  It looked like so much fun!  The boys declared it to be "AMAZING."  Even though the full course is intended for ages 16+, I requested to review the program with my punks.

When we watched the first video lesson, I did not get the feeling it was just for high school.  Then I discovered there are some pretty heavy lesson plans included that contain guided notes, To Learn More document, and exams.  I really thought the video was appropriate for upper elementary and middle school.  They definitely enjoyed it and got a lot out of it.  By adding in the various other elements, this course is credit worthy for high school.  Some lessons could easily take two weeks.

Each of the 15 lessons is made up of the available documents (listed above) and a video of approximately an hour long (some longer, some shorter).  They aren't flashy and "exciting," but are filmed more as a lecture, like you would receive in any course intended for high school or college aged students.  There are some slides or video clips, but for the most part, Doctor Aviation stands near a plane (different throughout the videos) and lectures.  That was fine for me, but thankfully for the punks, the videos are divided into three sections;
  • Technical Trivia, 
  • Notable Innovators, and 
  • Legendary Aircraft/events.  
This made it easier to break up the viewing and spread it out a bit.  It wasn't my original intention, but it helped to better keep the punks' attention.  I do wish there was a more notable break in the videos, though so I could easily go back to the segment we left off from.  When we finished a lesson, we could mark it complete and the program would open at the appropriate lesson the next time.  I actually rarely did that because we broke up the videos by segments and it was easy to get where I wanted to be right from the dashboard.

My personal favorite segment was Notable Innovators.  I loved learning about The Wright Brothers, Chuck Yeager, and Amelia Earhart.  Some of the people we'll learn about in future lessons are Neil Armstrong, Nate Saint (we actually studied him earlier this year), and Charles Lindbergh.

It was really fun to be learning specifically about Amelia Earhart just when the information about her possible fate, determined via a "lost photo" came out on the news.  You can read Doctor Aviation's blog and see what he thought about it.  He has a lot of interesting posts on there about many aviation related topics.

This is the course overview.
Session 1 Course Overview: The Aviation System
I. The Aircraft
Session 2 The Major Components of an Airplane
Session 3 Axes and Forces
Session 4 Why an Aircraft Flies: The Secret of Airfoils and Lift
Session 5 Why an Aircraft Turns, Pitches and Slides: The Flight Controls
II. Air Traffic Control
Session 6 How We See an Aircraft Miles Away: The Secrets of Radar
Session 7 The Air Traffic Cops: How Air Traffic Control Works
III. Maintenance
Session 8 Keep ‘Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance – Propeller Engines
Session 9 Keep ‘Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance – Jet Engines
IV. Airfield Operations
Session 10 The City in and of Itself: Running a Large Airport
Session 11 The Small Airport and Running an FBO
V. The Aircraft II
Session 12 Flying in the Clear and Not so Clear Air: VMC and IMC
Session 13 Important Pilot Instruments – Attitude Indicator
Session 14 Important Pilot Instruments – Airspeed Indicator
Session 15 Other Aviation Ships: Gliders, Helicopters, Airships

Doctor Aviation

Guided notes follow the video pretty closely and are pretty easy to fill in as you go.  I rarely needed to pause a video for that purpose, so things kept flowing nicely.  I printed the notes and To Learn More documents and put them all in a handy folder.

The "To Learn More" document lists book, website, and video suggestions to enhance the learning from the video lesson.  It also includes hands-on activities, films, and research and writing assignments.  I actually borrowed *grown up* books from our library for this course.  Crazy, I know!  The best part was finding books for the punks that were suitable for their age and ability.  There were a few picture books for Merrick and several biographies in the juvenile section of the library for the bigger littles.

Dr. Aviation Intro Video from Daryl Smith on Vimeo.

We watched - rather than read - The Right Stuff, which I found out was really Not Kid Friendly.  Ahem.  That's no fault of Doctor Aviation.  I made the call.  PG back then, was way different from PG now that there is a PG-13 rating.  Lesson learned, hopefully.  A lot of it was very interesting, though and it led us down some rabbit trails about the speed of sound (supersonic and hypersonic) and that in November, 1961, Air Force Major Robert White reached speeds over Mach 6 in the X-15 research airplane.

Climbing the stairs into Air Traffic Control.  There's an old tower that's accessible to the public at a local airport.  I've taken the boys into it a couple of times.

When it's time for an exam, you'll be prompted to contact the administrator in the Action Steps section of the applicable sessions.  Easy Peasy.

Daryl Smith, AKA Doctor Aviation, has some pretty impressive credentials.  You don't have to wonder if this guy is qualified to teach you or your students about aviation.  Doctor Aviation has logged over 2,000 flight hours with 24 years in the Air Force.  He also was an instructor at the United States Air Force Academy, is a published author, and currently a college professor.

I think this is a *great* course for interested middle schoolers, older students, a fun way to earn a high school credit, continuing adult education, and even useful for boys and girls in Civil Air Patrol.  I have one punk I think will be very interested in that in a few years and this course is giving him a peek at what's in store.

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