Doctor Aviation Review




Honored with two awards in 2017 from The Old Schoolhouse: Favorite Elective Curriculum & Favorite High School Product


Doctor Aviation is an educational website dedicated to instructing life-long learners interested in aviation.  It offers an aeronautics course that homeschoolers and their parents love (it’s a great option for a homeschool science elective).

The course:

  1. Helps students discover careers available in the aviation world.
  2. Shows a pathway to pursue an aviation career.
  3. Imparts knowledge regarding the physics of flight.  Specifically, the course examines the forces that act upon an aircraft, and airfoils are discussed in depth.  Lift and drag as well as Bernoulli’s equation are covered.  The principles behind radar and stealth technology are also covered.  The course also touches on several famous aircraft accidents and the factors that led to the mishaps.
  4. The course teaches about the important players in aviation history.
  5. The course teaches about important airplane designs.
  6. I know I already mentioned it – but it’s a science elective. 🙂
  7. Can be taken as a literature or history elective – This is accomplished by using the recommended reading resources found in the downloadable “To Learn More” PDF that is part of each lesson.  For further information, you can see what one family did here.
  8. Assists Boy Scouts or American Heritage Girls in their pursuit of an aviation badge, and enables Civil Air Patrol members to grow in aviation knowledge.

Course Features

The online aviation course consists of fifteen 45-50 minute video lessons.  Each lesson has three segments (Technical Trivia, Notable Innovators, and Legendary Aircraft/Events), and downloadable PDF files for further learning, testing, and scoring.  The length is suitable for a semester long course (one session per week, plus activities).  Adding the final exam completes a sixteen week course of study. can be used as either a .5 credit or 1.0 credit course.

Each course specifically covers the following

Session 1 Course Overview: The Aviation System, The Wright Brothers, Kitty Hawk

Session 2 The Major Components of an Airplane, Chuck Yeager, The P-51

Session 3 Axes and Forces, Chuck Yeager II, Breaking the Sound Barrier

Session 4 The Secret of Airfoils and Lift, Amelia Earhart, Earhart’s Last Flight

Session 5 Rotating an Aircraft: The Flight Controls, Daniel Bernoulli, UAL 232

Session 6 The Secrets of Radar, Kelly Johnson, F-117

Session 7 How Air Traffic Control Works, Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11

Session 8 Aircraft Maintenance – Propeller Engines, Nate Saint, Cessna 172

Session 9 Aircraft Maintenance – Jet Engines, Build your own Plane, F-14

Session 10 Running a Large Airport, Dutch Kindelberger, Boeing 747

Session 11 The Small Airport & Running an FBO, Lindbergh, First Transatlantic Flight

Session 12 VMC and IMC, How to Become a Pilot, JFK Jr. Crash

Session 13 Instruments – Attitude Indicator, Tex Johnston, Eastern 401 Crash

Session 14 Instruments – Airspeed Indicator, Edgar Schmued, UAL 173  Crash

Session 15 Gliders, Helicopters, Airships, High Flight, Hindenburg Crash

Check out the video below. 

Doctor Aviation Review – What I like about this course:

  • Doctor Aviation’s background.  Wow!  The Doctor, AKA Dr. Daryl Smith, is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy where he learned to fly both gliders and fixed wing aircraft. Over his 24 years in the Air Force, he traversed the sky in nearly a dozen aircraft as a Command Pilot with over 2,000 flying hours. On the ground, Doctor Aviation served as a professor at the United States Air Force Academy teaching aviation and other courses.  Additionally, he has authored a book on aircraft mishaps, published by McGraw Hill.  And he’s likable!  If you’re going to watch approximately 15 hours of an individual, it’s important that they’re likable.
  • I like the extra info associated with each lesson – especially the Learn More info (which includes extra readings, YouTube videos, and hands-on activities). The downloadable resources, study helps, and the listed action steps, are all a plus.  You can see some of these resources below (in most cases, these are portions of a resource – as the resources can be several pages long).


Doctor Aviation Review – More of what I like about the course:

  • Technical info – it’s important to know how things work and the science involved, and Dr.Smith explains things very well.
  • Notable innovators – there’s a small history lesson in each class!  I learned about the history of flight, WWII and more.
  • Legendary aircraft/events – now my son can impress his Grandpa when they go to air museums and shows!  And I just watched a PBS show about Dunkirk – where I was super interested in the plane info (before this course, this info wouldn’t have piqued my interest at all).
  • The Doctor gives great examples that everyone can relate to – when explaining what a system is, he uses an example of a cell phone system. In the fourth class, he discusses airfoils and lift which sounds pretty complicated but he explains it so its easy to understand (he uses a speed bump analogy as a speed bump has the same shape as an airfoil).  Another every day example he uses – sticking your hand in a cold stream and how the water goes over your hand, as air flows much the same way as water does.
  • I like the clean graphics (see below).

  • Dr. Smith uses Venn diagrams – and he explains them!

  • Current lessons refer back to earlier lessons – I like that.
  • The course offers study guides to help you study for the tests. An example of part of a study guide follows:



Guess what?  You can watch the first class to see if this course is right for you –

Just some of the interesting things I learned from this course (I learned a lot and really can’t include everything!):

  • Info about lift and drag

  • In 1904 it was discovered that radio waves could detect the presence of a objects in the fog – specifically, the presence and distance of the ship.  This was before the Titanic disaster.
  • Radar technology helped win WWII
  • A great deal of aviation technology came out of WWII
  • Superideas can be ahead of their time.  For instance, online banking in the early 1980’s (another great example Dr. Smith uses), and aviation stealth technology
  • Stealth technology – when designers play with/change the angles of an airplane to make it “more stealthy”
  • Interesting pilots.  I’ve always been interested is Amelia Earhart (pictured below). I found out she bore a strong resemblance to Charles Lindbergh (I never made that connection); she completed 22K of the 29K miles she was going to fly before she was lost; and during the flight when she was lost, her radio receiver and her antenna were on different frequencies

  • The different kinds of airports – I knew I hated hub airports!

  • I learned about commercial adaptation of military designs
  • As well as passenger airplane modifications to carry freight
  • A boom ride  is when a pilot breaks the sound barrier
  • I learned about interesting people like Edgar Schmued (designer)
  • The dangers of a flight crew not looking at the overall/big picture, but being focused on one aspect of a flight
  • It’s mandated that planes have extra fuel for 45 minutes – plus contingency fuel for about 20 minutes


Doctor Aviation is a perfect course for learning about aviation – and it’s a great homeschool science elective.

Plus, it will look great on your student’s transcript!  🙂



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