Optimal Learning

Make Your Flight Dreams a Reality

It's time to make flying everything you dreamed it would be. Join us at AirVenture 2024 for an immersive experience that transforms your aviation skills. Engage in hands-on activities and connect with passionate pilots and instructors.

Join the bold experiment.


Register for a Workshop!


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When was the last time...
...you had a real Aha moment?
...learning about flying was fun?
...you said,"I'm learning too much"?
Time to Recalibrate

Do we want greater student pilot retention? Higher initial check ride pass rates? Fewer fatalities and hull losses? Increased instructor knowledge, skill, and effectiveness? Correlation-level learning? A culture where pilots see regular proficiency training as “normal and necessary”?

If these are desirable goals, we must recalibrate flight training. And that starts with improving the ability of flight instructors and aviation educators to deliver training more effectively.

Optimal Learning

Striving for Excellence in Flight Training

EAA PPC Building
Pilot Proficiency Center (PPC)

EAA AirVenture July 22 - 26, 2024


Thank you Gold Sponsors!
Join the Experiment 

We’re transforming the EAA Pilot Proficiency Center into an interactive learning center. How? By creating a dynamic atmosphere that fosters discussion and a flow of ideas. An environment that sparks on-the-spot creativity and experimentation.

This will require you to be hands-on and minds-on throughout. We’ll be returning to fundamentals.
Drawing on the collective genius in the room. Probing and stretching. Exploring ways to think and teach differently. Pushing for deeper understanding. Empowering instructors. Empowering YOU as a consumer of aviation training services.

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Discussion and Flow of Ideas

Drawing on the collective genius in the room. Sparking on-the-spot creativity and experimentation.

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Hands-on, Minds-on Activities

Empowering instructors. Empowering YOU as a
consumer of aviation training services.

Teaching Differently PPC_border

Thinking - Teaching Differently

Probing and stretching. Exploring ways to think and teach differently.


The best learning experiences include academic, simulation/visualization, and in-airplane training exercisesDeep practice requires breaking the whole into its parts, practicing each element, then achieving mastery through repetition while receiving insightful feedback from your instructor.

We’re not going to teach you how to do a steep turn here. Or how to fly an instrument approach. Our mission is broader.  It’s about understanding and applying basic principles to help you achieve a higher level of understanding.

Sure, we might use something like a steep turn as an example, but you’ll be able to apply the underlying concepts to other maneuvers and scenarios.

Thus, everything we’ll be doing will be based on first principles and delivered in the Learn-Do-Fly
framework. We’re also taking a pilot-centered approach. It’s about YOU. FLYING THE AIRPLANE. It’s not
about the engineering- or design-centered details.

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Focus on the Instructor / Teacher

We will prepare and support trainers with new ways of teaching.  We will also encourage them to adopt a proficiency training initiative for their clients.


Centered on First Principles

A thorough understanding of first principles is foundational to the art and science of flight and will be used as context for the program.

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Year-round Training Emphasis

This isn't a one-and-done event.  It's a new beginning.  Leave with a dedication to a year round proficiency plan and a mindset for optimal learning.

The State of Flight Training Today
Shared Principles

Master Instructor Rich Stowell was inspired to write his paper, The Nine Principles of Light Aircraft Flying from his training experience with the martial art, Krav Maga.  In this video series Rich and his teacher, Beau Durocher, find common ground in first principles - one instructor to another.

Thank you Silver Sponsors!
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The Program

The Optimal Learning program will feature multiple topics presented by lead instructors over the course of the week of AirVenture.  Lead instructors will challenge, involve and motivate participants with hands-on, minds-on activities during four-hour training blocks - workshops.  There will be two per day, morning and afternoon with the exception of Wednesday and Friday afternoons.  Each workshop will consist of briefing, interactive discussion, activity and simulator lab, and debriefing periods.

In addition to the Optimal Learning program there will be a hands-on clinic featuring the operation of supplemental Angle of Attack indicators and flight simulation orientation from Friday afternoon through Saturday. 

Select a Topic to Learn More and Register

22 July
08:00 - 12:00

Think, See, Fly in 3D    Rich Stowell

Questioning Your Way to Correlation    Jason Archer

  13:00 - 17:00

Think, See, Fly in 3D    Rich Stowell

Questioning Your Way to Correlation    Jason Archer

23 July
08:00 - 12:00

Mindset Matters    Tammy Barlette

The Sweat Factor (T-SBT)    Pete Reddan

  13:00 - 17:00

Mindset Matters    Tammy Barlette

The Sweat Factor (T-SBT)    Pete Reddan

24 July
08:00 - 12:00

Where'd those "Transferable Skills" Go?    Adriana Barragan

Don't let your Enthusiasm Exceed your Energy   Rob Dumovic

  13:00 - 17:00

An Introduction to Angle of Attack Indicator Systems

  13:00 - 13:50 Using AoA for Maneuvering and Aircraft Control  Vaccaro
  14:00 - 14:50 Surviving the Nightmare: Engine Loss on Takeoff  Brown & Vaccaro
  15:00 - 15:50  Reducing Risk with AoA Indicator Systems   Stevens & Dye
  13:00 - 17:00 AoA Flight Simulation Workshops
25 July
08:00 - 12:00

Think, See, Fly in 3D    Rich Stowell

The Sweat Factor (T-SBT)    Pete Reddan

  13:00 - 17:00

Think, See, Fly in 3D    Rich Stowell

The Sweat Factor (T-SBT)    Pete Reddan

26 July
08:00 - 12:00

Where'd those "Transferable Skills" Go?    Adriana Barragan

Don't let your Enthusiasm Exceed your Energy     Rob Dumovic

  13:00 - 17:00

Open Sim Sessions

27 July
08:00 - 12:00

Open Sim Sessions

  13:00 - 17:00

Open Sim Sessions

Want to see the Full Program? 

If you'd like to see a complete schedule and details of all the workshops and clinics, you can download the full program in pdf format.  Click the button below to get your copy.

Download the PDF


Instructors and Workshops

Seats for each Optimal Learning workshop at AirVenture are limited.  Registration is encouraged.

Select a Workshop to Learn More and Register

How do programs at this year’s PPC compare to those from past years?
We’re taking a completely different approach at the PPC this year. The only thing that’s the same is the facility. So, if you’ve participated in the PPC before, erase that experience from memory. Come with an open mind and be ready to interact and learn.
Is there a theme?
Yes, it’s Optimal Learning. This is an experiment in delivering more meaningful training experiences. The Nine Principles of Light Airplane Flying inform the content and Learn-Do-Fly is the delivery framework.
What do you mean by “experiment”?
We want to know if this approach resonates with you.  Will the experience lead to different ways of thinking and better insights into your aviation education?  Will you discover some new approaches to improving your recurrent training?  Thus, we’ll be collecting data during the PPC. We’ll also periodically check in with you post-AirVenture with follow-up surveys.
What makes this PPC different?

This is not a series of lectures or an opportunity to play with a simulator.  We have selected our lead instructors based on their passion, knowledge and ability to deliver a powerful program.  We are coaching them to be creative with their content. The less traditional, the better. 

We also need and want you to actively participate. We want your hands and minds “on” throughout. We want energy and dialogue!

How is the program set up?

We’re creating six workshop topics spread over eight, half-day training blocks. Each training block includes a briefing period, two workshop periods that will run simultaneously, and a debriefing period.  At a minimum, we strongly encourage you to come for an entire training block (4 hours). But for the best experience, we recommend spending a whole day at the PPC (two blocks, 8 hours).

This way, you can participate in one of the two workshops in the morning, and the other workshop in the afternoon.

Can anyone participate?

YES!  We want instructors to participate to learn new and different ways to work with their students. We want pilots to experience examples of excellent training so they will be able to recognize and select more professional aviation education providers.

Having instructors and other pilots working side-by-side will benefit everyone.

Do we have to pre-register?

Registration is not mandatory but it is strongly encouraged.  If past years are any indicator attendance during AirVenture should be strong.

Use the registration form above to let us know you will be coming.

What if I just show up?
That’s OK, we can register you at the door if there is room. However, please show up before the training block begins. If you come to the PPC once a training block is in session, we’ll recommend that you register for the next block.
What is the supplemental Angle of Attack clinic about?

Angle of Attack indicators are becoming more prevalent in the general aviation community.  This workshop includes presentations by leading industry experts on the proper use of the devices as well as flight simulation exercises that feature a replication of the Garmin GI 260 on the Redbird AATD.

Wednesday, July 24th  13:00      

Learn more and Register for the AoA Clinic


Can I just come in and fly one of the flight simulators?
Beginning Friday afternoon the 26th and extending through all day Saturday the flight simulation devices are available for a 60-minute proficiency orientation session.  No preregistration is required.
Will the crosswind trainer be available this year?
Beginning Friday afternoon the 26th and extending through all day Saturday the crosswind simulator is available for a 30-minute training session.  No preregistration is required.
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