WINGS, Part 2: Online Learning

  Steve WolfMay 8, 2016  

Last month I talked about flying for WINGS credit. This month I’ll talk about learning on your computer or smart device for WINGS credit.

The FAA Safety team offers many courses for credit. When the new program started in 2007, the few courses they offered were pretty clunky. But since then they’ve partnered with AOPA and other providers, and the choices are good. Most of the programs available from the AOPA Air Safety Institute may be used as credits in the WINGS program (requires AOPA membership).

To access FAA Safety’s view of available courses, log on to your FAA Safety account, hover over Activities, Courses, Seminars & Webinars and click Courses on the pulldown menu. Then in the blue Catalog of Available Courses box, click Show WINGS Courses.

Notice that some courses cost money and others require you to be at a certain place at a certain time. It appears to be unsorted, other than the free courses appearing before the ones that cost money.

Another way to get to the courses is to go to your My WINGS page (hover over Pilots at the top and choose My Wings), and click Search next to one of the Knowledge Activities.

I’m working on my next WINGS phase, and decide to satisfy Knowledge Topic 1. On my My Wings page, I click Search on the Topic 1 box.

Scrolling down the list, I find Course ALC-82, “Do The Right Thing: Decision Making for Pilots”. I click its Select button which returns me to my My WINGS page. My selected activity now populates Knowledge Topic 1, with Status showing Enroll. I click there, and am enrolled for the course.

Usually, following the link to the course actually connects you to the course. However, when I follow the link to this particular course, I end up at the list of AIr Safety Institute courses, rather than at the Do The Right Thing course; AOPA probably moved a link associated with ALC-82 that caused things to get out of sync. No problem; I find the course in the list and start it. Now I’m ready to learn something and get credit for it. Feels like school.

Less than an hour later…

Very informative course, and I got 14 out of 15 questions right on the quiz, which is a passing grade. At the end, I’m asked for the email address associated with my WINGS account, and it assures me I’ll get credit. By the time I get back to my My WINGS page on FAA Safety, I’ve already received course credit. (This is really nice; when the program first started, it could take days or weeks before your credit for an AOPA course would show up.)

If I take one course in each of the topic areas, I’ll have my written requirements completed for my next WINGS phase. The three topic areas may be redefined from time to time depending on what areas of study the FAA wants to emphasize. Currently the topic areas are:

  • Knowledge Topic 1: Aeronautical Decision Making
  • Knowledge Topic 2: Performance and Limitations
  • Knowledge Topic 3: everything else (including Preflight Planning, Risk Management, and Fuel Management)

You can also sign up for WINGS credit when you attend a FAA Safety-sanctioned safety seminar. On the signup sheet at the event, write the email address associated with your WINGS account, and the event presenters will give you credit for the course, in the appropriate knowledge topic. Most seminars generate a credit for Topic 3, the catch-all topic.

That’s all there is to it. You’re more knowledgeable, the FAA is happy with you, and your insurance company is happy with you. Next month I’ll write about how to use the WINGS program as a substitute for your Flight Review (formerly known as a BFR).