The videos are divided into five main topic areas, under which you will learn the following:
1. Course Overview - The Aviation System
I. The Aircraft
2. The Major Components of an Airplane
3. Axes and Forces
4. Why an Aircraft Flies: The Secret of Airfoils and Lift
5. Why an Aircraft Turns, Pitches, and Flies: The Flight Controls
II. Air Traffic Control
6. How We See an Aircraft Miles Away: The Secrets of Radar
7. The Air Traffic Cops: How Air Traffic Control Works
8. Keep 'Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance - Propeller Engines
9. Keep 'Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance - Jet Engines
IV. Airfield Operations
10. The City in and of Itself: Running a Large Airport
11. The Small Airport and Running an FBO
V. The Aircraft II
12. Flying in the Clear and Not so Clear Air: VMC and IMC
13. Important Pilot Instruments: Attitude Indicator
14. Important Pilot Instruments: Airspeed Indicator
15. Other Aviation Ships: Gliders, Helicopters, Airships
Daryl Smith, Doctor Aviation, is a former Air Force Command Pilot (for part of which he worked on SDI - you know, Star Wars!) and instructor at the Air Force Academy. He is currently a college professor. In other words, this man knows aviation. Because he wanted to bring aviation to high schoolers, he created this virtual classroom. In my opinion, he succeeded.
In addition to the videos, there are two other components to Doctor Aviation. There are downloadable Guided Notes for each video, which I love. I printed these ahead of time for Nicholas to fill out as he was watching the video. I'll be honest: the videos could get to feeling a bit long. Doctor Aviation (Mr. Smith) tends to stand by his plane for most of the video talking. Now, my husband and I didn't mind that at all. I was fascinated. It seems that no matter how many times someone explains to me how planes fly (Video #4), it is a mystery revealed anew each time. Nicholas (14) got bored, though. Having the guided notes for him to fill in along the way was a stroke of brilliance. It kept him alert throughout the whole video.
Obviously the notes aren't fancy, but they don't have to be. They get the job done just fine. If you were taking this course for some kind of credit (because there is absolutely enough material here to be doing this for high school credit), they would make amazing study material.
The final component to each lesson is the "To Learn More" section that accompanies each video. This is the real meat of the lesson if you are doing Doctor Aviation for credit (which Nicholas isn't - I just know that my husband has always loved planes and I thought that he and Nicholas would enjoy learning more about them together). In these pages, Doctor Aviation gives you a *ton* of extra resources to peruse that pertain to the material he just covered in the video. The resources are all very neatly categorized by type and by topic.
I chose this particular screenshot because of that last article. I *love* that Doctor Aviation included an article from a scholarly journal. It's the kind of resource that "the rest of us" just wouldn't normally stumble upon. It's like me citing something from the American Political Science Quarterly. Plus, don't you just kind of wonder if he's 4th author?
If you're taking this class for credit, you won't have to do any extra work in pulling together outside resources. Doctor Aviation has done all of the work for you. I mean, you'll have to put in the time, but it's not like when you're writing a unit study and you have to hunt and search for the best materials: they are already all in one place for you.
For example, in Lesson 4, there are links to videos showing you how to build your own wind tunnel and airfoil. This is just an example of the kind of neat projects you can expect to find.
Finally, although we didn't delve into them, there are tests available from Doctor Aviation, should you so desire. He tells you on the website at what point you should be taking which test.
What We Thought
Well, our household was kind of divided in opinion on this review, but take Nicholas's opinion cum grano salis. The adults really enjoyed Doctor Aviation. The material is so interesting and, I'll confess, I'm a little starstruck by the credentials of the presenter (I mean, I remember debating Star Wars in high school). Is Mr. Smith the most fascinating communicator of all time? No. But he doesn't have to be. He knows his subject, and his passion for his subject is evident. That's enough for me. But Nicholas was raised in a different generation. He is used to far more flash and excitement with his video presentations. Sad but true. He loves informative presentations and he loves learning new things, but he will inevitably compare something like Doctor Aviation to The Science Channel. Still, the videos did hold his attention, and he was completely able to talk about what he learned at the end of each one. One comment - "Wow! That guy really really likes Chuck Yeager!" Also, the courses are designed for ages 16+, and Nicholas is a brand new 14 (and an immature 14 at that), so take those things into consideration when deciding whether or not this product is for you. If you have a child who is at all into aviation, maybe one who is in Civil Air Patrol or who is considering it, I would definitely not hesitate with this one. Or if you yourself are interested in aviation, give the samples online a try. I am *really* enjoying Doctor Aviation and can't wait to see how Air Traffic Control works (my hat is off to anyone who does that job; it looks like a heart attack in waiting to me!).
Many different crew members got a chance to try out Doctor Aviation, so be sure to click the banner below to see what they thought!