Typing up a lesson plan on your own is no easy task. It involves lots of research to accrue accurate and concise information. To make a lesson plan even better, it should involve an illustration or visualization of the topic at hand. This is because an effective lesson is not just a classroom and a CFI who is talking for two hours until it is time to go fly. It involves multi-faceted learning methods, which means you, as the flight instructor, need to make sure your students retain the information you are giving to them in the most effective manner possible.

That is why you should use multiple methods of teaching such as a classroom setting, videos, pictures, and lastly, written and verbal quizzes meant for learning. A popular method of teaching systems, for example, is by simply doing part of the lesson next to the aircraft! Hands-on lessons are proven to be the most effective to the most people overall. And when it comes to pilots, most are hands-on learners.

Let me be the good example and write up a quick lesson plan outlook for this lesson.

Lesson objective:

To familiarize the student with the basics of lesson plan writing, including formatting, how to do proper research, and reference list building.

Completion standards:

The student should have a good understanding of how to gather the information needed for an effective lesson plan, and be able to demonstrate proficiency in lesson plan writing.


Ground discussion of 60 minutes.



Aviation Instructor's Handbook - Chapter 5 & 7

What makes an effective lesson plan

The contents of a lesson plan, not including the outlook itself (seen above), should include the topics and subtopics you intend to teach your student. How much detail and information you put into the lesson plan is up to your personal preference. Some people prefer bullet points, while others prefer full paragraphs.

Regardless, your text should be concise yet informative. That is not an easy balance to find! Your lesson plan should include the minimums of what you expect to teach your students. It is not realistic that you have all the information you know about the subject written on there, as it would take up too much space, and would no longer be efficient. Instead, write up your lesson in a way which triggers your memory through a quick read. In this way you can prepare for your lesson in a matter of minutes prior to the actual lesson, and avoid having to read several pages in order to remember everything you need to talk about.

In addition, visuals are amazing at triggering memories. A great illustration can give you all the insight you need to effectively gather your thoughts and teach the lesson.

Formatting is another piece of an effective lesson plan. If your lesson is a whole page of words with no spacing or structure, you will never want to look at it again. You need to format it in a way that makes reading your lesson quick and easy. As a bonus point, this will make your lesson plans great handouts to your students. Bring your lesson into the classroom with you as a guideline, and when you are done with the lesson, give it to your student. I hand my students a copy of my lesson plans in the beginning of the lesson. In that way, they can follow along and write personalized notes on the paper, if they feel the need to.


Making an effective lesson plan requires research to make your lesson as informative and accurate as possible. Generally, the FAA has great material for all levels of aviation. I recommend reading the sections related to your lesson plan, and writing notes as you go. Use multiple sources. For example, if you are writing about general aerodynamics, find as many credible sources on the subject as you can. When it comes to flight training, the FAA and flight schools prefer official FAA material as the source. There is a lot of great material out there from other sources, but the FAA has made their material in a way which coincides nicely with their practical test standards, making it easier for your students and the designated pilot examiner to understand each other. European sources will use different verbiage, which may result in confusion with an American DPE.

Making an effective reference list

Having accurate references is key for a good flight instructor. It is something that is quickly forgotten as a newer flight instructor gets more experienced. Every single lesson you teach, should refer to at least one credible source. The student should never walk away from the lesson empty handed. Give them the source however you prefer (a reference, link, handout, etc.). The most important thing here is that the student gets the chance to review the material (this should be done before and after the lesson), and they get to see where all the information you are teaching them is coming from. If your student is not able to find information by themselves, then their future as a pilot is going to needlessly convoluted.

One of my references to this blog post is attached right below. That makes it pretty easy for you to do your own research, and study up in your own pace, right? Make it just as easy for your own students! Learning comes from multiple sources (classroom, reading, hands-on, videos), not just one.

This article has been designed as a template for you to see what a lesson plan could look like. You might want to add some illustrations, maybe a link to a video, or you might want to cut down on the text or simply put it into bullet points. There is no "right" or "correct" way of making a lesson plan. As long as it works for you and it has a similar setup to what the FAA Is looking for (look at the reference right above), then you will be good to go!

Should you be in need of helicopter lesson plans, I have made it easy and made them all for you. Complete with concise and accurate details, illustrations made in Adobe Illustrator, and regularly updated references, this collection of lesson plans makes a fantastic CFI binder.