Advanced Training: King Schools

The advanced training videos from King Schools provide solid, detailed information but the basic courses lack content that we think should be there.

We have a bias when it comes to flight training: We think that high-quality training, at all levels, is essential to overall aviation safety. We’ve watched the quality of flight training increase over the last several decades and feel that it has played a role in the decreasing accident rate for all segments of aviation over the same period. Accordingly, we take the quality of commercially available pilot training courses seriously—because those courses are what are used by a substantial percentage of people obtaining ratings. 

We are particularly interested in turnkey video courses because of their reasonable pricing, easy availability on numerous platforms and a perceived increase in the willingness of Americans to take their information from videos as opposed to the written word. 

Earlier this year we began what will be a long-term review of turnkey video flight training courses by reviewing the advanced training courses—instrument, commercial and multi-engine—offered by Sporty’s. With this installment, we are taking a look at the same courses offered by King Schools. We like what we have seen. 


Written test and checkride cram courses have been on the market since not long after World War II. Having flown with some pilots who relied solely on such courses to make it through ratings, we’ve often seen glaring holes in their education and a sometimes shocking lack of understanding of basic aerodynamics and aircraft performance. 

That caused us to come to the conclusion that any training course worth its salt should be primarily designed to provide the depth of knowledge that pilot is going to need to fly safely in the selected environment. Frankly, we’ve seen too many accidents due to a pilot’s failure to understand such basic concepts as the need to hold aileron into the wind on rollout on a crosswind landing.

We are convinced that a well-rounded training course will not only make for a more competent pilot, it will make passing a written and practical exam much easier. 

With that as background, we came away from our review of the King Schools’ video training courses for the instrument, commercial and multi-engine ratings with a strong positive feeling because they teach the whole picture, so that a pilot who is paying attention, and taking the quizzes, is going to come out of the course with a solid understanding of what she will need to know when flying as a professional pilot.


In the weather section of the commercial pilot course, John King explains wind shear, above. Martha King goes through the FARs on logbook documentation for a commercial pilot, below.

King Schools video courses can be played on any device with an internet browser and broadband internet access. King offers a free companion app that allows a course to be downloaded and played when there is no internet access. 

Each course starts with what we felt was a clear explanation as to how to use it. The main menu for the course shows the lessons in the course. Each lesson contains one or more videos—usually less than 10 minutes each—with FAA-style questions at the end. The user can adjust the speed of the video, a feature we like. As the user progresses, the main menu updates, showing the date each lesson was completed. 

Buying a course gives the user lifetime access to it and lifetime updates of information within it. There is a money-back guarantee if the user does not pass the FAA written exam. There is also a free flashcard app to facilitate review. For no charge, King allows your CFI to track your progress in the course. When a CFI signs up for this feature, the CFI receives a free suite of King Schools ground and test prep courses as we’ll as access to King’s online resource library.

As we reviewed the instrument and commercial courses, we soon realized that each basic course is a ground school and written/knowledge test prep—it does not include checkride prep. The checkride prep course costs extra. We aren’t crazy about that although we recognize that not all buyers desire checkride prep information. 

We note that because King Schools videos have been around so long, that the individual video quality varies within courses with some of the old ones being of marginal quality—especially the graphics—and the newer ones being filmed in HD. We note that the older videos still contain solid, accurate information.

King Schools’ marketing vice president, John Dowd, told us that they are going to be selecting some videos to go into a category of “King Classic Courses.”


Priced at $279, King’s Instrument Rating Ground School and Test Prep course includes 16 hours of video in 13 chapters of material. 

As with other King courses, most videos feature Martha or John King giving a lecture in front of video of instruments or aircraft in flight or graphics. The content is solid and dense. There is so much material that a user should be prepared to view each video a number of times to catch everything. 

The Kings are good teachers, although the pure lecture format is, we are told, off-putting to some. 

The course starts with IFR cross-country flying and progresses through departure and arrival procedures, instrument approaches, navigation, holding patterns, flight planning, flight instruments (glass and round gauge), weather, FARs and the AIM. 

Then it’s time for an intensive review using the flashcard app. Finally, the user takes practice exams. Passing three with a score of at least 80 percent results in King Schools issuing an endorsement to take the FAA written/knowledge test. The user can take an unlimited number of practice exams.

We were impressed with the section on holding using advanced avionics as Martha gave simple and straightforward explanations on entering published and unpublished holding patterns. 

We do not like that this course does not include access to the King Schools online reference library. To get that, you need to buy the Instrument Rating Written & Checkride Combo for $399. That provides additional content in the form of 7.5 hours of video in the Instrument Rating Practical Test (checkride) Prep course. It also includes four single-subject online video courses: Aviation Weather Wise, Surviving Aircraft Systems Emergencies, Practical Risk Management for Single-Pilot IFR and IFR With Confidence. 

In our opinion, for someone going for an instrument rating and using King Schools material, we think that the $279 course simply doesn’t have everything needed, so the user is going to be faced with paying for the $399 course, especially because we think access to the online library is quite valuable. 

The library contains syllabuses for a number of ratings, what appears to be all of the currently published Airman Certification Standards, a boatload (technical term) of FAA handbooks as we’ll as a number of useful flight planning tools. We think that lifetime access to this library is a significant value.

King Schools also offers a top-of-the-line instrument training course, the Instrument Rating Get It All Kit for $599. The extra money buys nine more individual pilot skills courses. We looked at a number of them, notably Airport Signs, Marking & Procedures and Practical Risk Management for Pilots. We thought they all provided important information that can be handy for a pilot to have in her or his reference library, although a few were clearly some years old and had not been updated.

If we were working on an instrument rating, we think that we’d go with the $399 course as the basic course leaves out what we feel is essential material. 


Each King Schools course main menu shows the subject matter to be covered—this is for the multi-engine course, above. Martha and John King are known for the humor they inject into their courses—from good lines to groaners. On April first this year we got a laugh out of their claim to offer a Mars Astronaut course, below. However, the 23 percent discount they offered for all courses was real.

The Commercial Pilot Ground School and Test Prep Course ($279) offered by King Schools suffers from the same shortcoming as the basic instrument rating course—no checkride prep and no access to the online resource library—plus one more: There’s no dedicated description of the commercial maneuvers. 

To get those materials, one has to buy the Commercial Pilot Written & Checkride Combo for $399. 

As one of the most challenging part of the commercial pilot rating is understanding and performing the maneuvers, we think that any commercial pilot course should include a section devoted to the maneuvers—and once the user pays $399, access is granted to the dedicated maneuvers videos, which we found to be good, but not the best we’d ever seen.  

Besides commercial maneuvers, the Combo course also includes three other pilot skills courses: Taming Stalls & Spins, The Complete Airspace Review and VFR Cross-Country Flying.

The 10 hours of video ground school and test prep course has 12 chapter headings, including Aerodynamics, Sectional Charts, Airspace and Weather Minimums, Electronic Navigation & Flight Instruments, Flight Operations, Weather, FARs, Aircraft Performance, Weight and Balance and Cross-Country Planning. 

Again we found that each video went into the subject in what we felt was the right level of depth, with explanations of the whys of the material that we think a good pilot should know. We did not feel that there was extraneous material—it was solid facts, presented clearly. 

In our opinion the review questions at the end of each video concentrated on the most important areas of the video—there was no attempt to try to fool the user by asking about some trivial matter.

There is also a Get It All Kit for the commercial. For $599, it includes the materials in the Combo course, plus nine additional individual pilot skills courses.  

While we like the individual pilot skill courses, buying the Get It All Kits provides too much of a good thing, in our opinion. A person working on the rating will probably want to focus on the material in the courses themselves and master it rather than watch several hours more of video that, as students say, won’t be on the test. 


Cleared for Multi-Engines is the King Schools’ online multi-engine rating course. At $259, we think that it is another content-rich course from the Kings. Despite having given multi-engine instruction for some decades, we found ourselves picking up some tips we wished we’d known sooner. 

We like that there is an inflight demonstration of just how poor piston twin performance is when everything is done right and how truly awful it can be if the pilot doesn’t take action to clean up the airplane. 

The graphics on establishing zero sideslip after an engine failure were accurate, but rudimentary. 


King Schools videos were cutting-edge when they came out. Now, they feel dated. We were surprised that occasionally there would be reference to things that no longer exist, such as DUATS—although to be fair, those were almost always in the single pilot skills videos, that are not updated, rather than in the underlying courses themselves. 

We don’t like that a pilot seeking checkride information and access to the online reference library has to buy the second level of courses. And, to put it bluntly, a person gets more for $279 from the Sporty’s instrument and commercial courses than from the same-price courses from King Schools. Plus, we think that $259 for the multi-engine video course is way out of line considering that it is only a few hours of video and there’s no written test to prepare for—and the same course from Sporty’s, with better quality video, is only $99.99. 

In our advanced training video course review, we give the nod to Sporty’s.