Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Michael A. Gallo, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Deborah S. Carstens, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Victoria L. Dunbar, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Thomas Marcinkowski, Ph.D.


This study examined the relationship between a set of targeted factors and the total flight time students needed to become ready to take the private pilot check ride. The study was grounded in Ebbinghaus’s (1885/1913/2013) forgetting curve theory and spacing effect, and Ausubel’s (1963) theory of meaningful learning. The research factors included (a) training time to proficiency, which represented the number of training days needed to become check-ride ready; (b) flight training program (Part 61 vs. Part 141); (c) organization offering the training program (2- or 4-year college/university vs. FBO); (d) scheduling policy (mandated vs. student-driven); and demographical variables, which consisted of (e) biological sex assigned at birth (female vs. male), (f) age, (g) race/ethnicity, and (h) marital status. Convenience/snowball sampling strategies were used to solicit flight students from various flight schools and pilots from United Airlines who provided the same data as flight students based on their recollection of when they were flight students in a PPL training program. The primary data collection instrument was a researcher-developed questionnaire designed to capture participants’ self-reported factual data related to the targeted variables, and the sample size used to test the study’s hypotheses was n = 164 participants.

Preliminary data screening eliminated all except three variables and required a natural logarithm transformation for training time to proficiency. A follow-up hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that training time to proficiency, organization, and scheduling policy were strong predictors of flight hours needed to become check-ride ready and collectively explained 19% of the variance in the DV. The results also supported Ebbinghaus’s (1885/1913/2013) forgetting curve theory and confirmed that as the number of training days increase, the number of flight hours needed to become check-ride ready was asymptotic at 70 hours. An application of the prediction model suggests flight students enrolled in a Part 61 program at an FBO with a student-driven schedule need approximately 30 days of flight training to become check-ride ready.


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