I'm on a similar journey right now and while I don't know what Lee is up to at the moment I CAN tell you that the FAA can be just as, if not MORE, frustrating for full scale pilots and GA. I went in to get a medical cert (required before you can solo) back in November. The FAA has VERY stringent (and perhaps outdated) regulations regarding the medication you can take. I had one old prescription for medication I no longer take, and I was also taking Zyrtec D for my allergies. Both are banned and resulted in "deferral" to the FAA. So it took about 4 weeks for the FAA to review my application, then they snail-mailed me their questions. I sent back a response within a week (snail-mail only). 3 weeks later someone at the FAA scanned my response into their database. 3 weeks after that someone reviewed it and another letter was sent out with a request for MORE information. I'm still waiting for that one to arrive so I can keep the process rolling. At this point if my next response clears up their concerns the deferral will have added 6 months to the process.
My instructors wisely suggested that I slow-roll flight training just in case the FAA eventually outright rejects my application. For me that would be devastating, BUT the FAA claims that they have about a 99% approval rate for those who stick out the process and jump through all the hoops. I'm "pot committed" here so I won't be giving up no matter what they ask for.
If you're willing to roll the dice you CAN continue flying and training without the medical but without it you'll never get your airman certificate. I may actually go ahead with SOME training and get my tailwheel endorsement (and a few others) even before I get the airman certificate.
Lee mentioned not to pay big bucks for ground school. I did the $279 online program from Sportys (https://www.sportys.com/learn-to-fly-course-private-pilot-test-prep-online-app-and-tv.html
) and it was really comprehensive. I prefer the flexibility of online training and can watch the videos pretty much anywhere.
On my commute I will often listen in to radio traffic at our local airports using https://www.liveatc.net/
. I'm looking into the various radio comm simulators but there is no substitute for listening in to the real stuff, especially from the airfields you plan to fly from.
Finally, and I freely admit this is overkill in a big way, but flight training IS expensive. Particularly when you are paying for aircraft rental and CFI instruction. For the cost of maybe 10 lessons in the air I built a very basic in-home simulator w/ VR. I'm just using MSFS2020 and I purchased some VERY realistic models of the various aircraft I'm training in. Before a lesson I can read through my textbooks and run the flight on my own. After a lesson I can retrace the flight in the simulator and practice the maneuvers. Plus you can get very familiar with instrument panel layout and walk through your actual checklists and runup procedures. This isn't necessary but I've found it very valuable and enjoyable, particularly as I'm not flying as much as I would like while I wait for the Medical.
Hopefully Lee is having smooth sailing on his journey. I'm happy to share my experiences from the bumpier path.