Sporty’s began as a flight training company, and six decades later that’s still our passion. The technology may have changed, but our focus on teaching real world flying skills has not, and it’s this unique mix of educational experience and technological expertise that makes Sporty’s different. Every year, tens of thousands of pilots learn to fly with us, either at our flight school at the Clermont County Airport in Ohio or through our online courses. We hope you can join us in 2021—there’s a course for every type of pilot.
1960s and 1970s
Sporty’s Founder Hal Shevers created the first three-day ground school courses in the early 1960s. He collaborated with Joe Vorbeck of Purdue University and traveled the country teaching pilots everything they needed to know for the written test—in just a weekend. It sounded crazy to some, but Hal was successful and pilots passed their tests. He went on to partner with AOPA to deliver Flight Training Clinics, beginning in 1966. And of course, Hal was an active flight instructor at the time as well.
Technology: Slideshows, paper, and pencil.
Lesson learned: Pilots like to be efficient when they learn. Hal knew that pilots were usually busy people who couldn't devote three nights per week for six weeks to ground school. We still apply that philosophy today—our courses focus on teaching important information without wasting your time.
1980s and 1990s
In 1987, we founded Sporty’s Academy to create a new generation of training courses. Using the latest video tools, we created over two dozen immersive training programs, hosted by well-known pilots like Rob Reider and Richard Collins. No longer limited by in-person ground schools, Sporty's was able to reach a worldwide audience with its flight training materials.
Technology: Betacams and VHS tapes.
Lesson learned: Top quality video is worth it. From the beginning, we focused on producing video courses that put the viewer in the cockpit, not a classroom. We still do that today, with dynamic in-flight footage and 3D animations that make you feel like you're really flying.
Sporty’s was an early adopter of DVD technology, which represented a huge upgrade over VHS tapes that could wear out. The move to DVDs also allowed us to offer more learning tools than ever before, including interactive review quizzes. We were honored to win a Flying magazine Editors' Choice Award in 2001 for our DVD courses.
Technology: Digital cameras and DVDs.
Lesson learned: Interactive training is better. The review quizzes on each DVD proved to be a popular feature with pilots, perfect for reviewing important topics and preparing for the FAA test. We've continued to add interactive test features since then, including our Smart Study tool, flashcard mode, and even review quizzes on our Apple TV app.
Technology has never moved faster than it does in 2021, and Sporty’s new Pilot Training platform takes advantage of all the latest tools. Now pilots can study online on our custom learning platform, or in our dedicated mobile apps for iPad, iPhone, and Android. We even offer smart TV apps, so you can watch the latest courses on your Apple TV, Roku, or Chromecast. Progress syncs automatically, and lifetime updates are included for free. Plus, our course library has grown to over 25, covering everything from Private Pilot training to the latest avionics.
Technology: GoPro cameras and iOS/Android apps.
Lesson learned: Let pilots learn anywhere. We've expanded our Pilot Training platform to almost any device, so you can train whenever you have a few minutes free.
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