12 Must-Have Aviation Books for Professional Pilots and Fans

Every pilot has a library. Some are bigger than others, but they all include at the very minimum the basic textbooks that got you through your certification training. If you have a little more space to play with, you may find yourself wondering what books you should add to your collection.

Or perhaps, you aren’t a pilot, but are interested in aviation and want to learn more about it. Maybe you’re looking for a good gift for a pilot friend or you want an aviation bedtime story for your child.

Whatever the reason for your interest, we have you covered with our Top 12 Must-Have Aviation Book List.

How many of these books do you have in your collection?

1.      I Learned About Flying From That Book

I Learned About Flying From That Book

Learning from your own mistakes is good but learning from someone else’s is much better. Nowhere is this truer than in an industry like aviation where mistakes can easily be deadly. I Learned About Flying From That is a collection of over 75 first-hand accounts from real-life pilots. They share tales of mishaps and close calls that will keep you on the edge of your seat and allow you to walk away with plenty of valuable life lessons to apply.

The stories shared in this book come from Flying Magazine’s popular column by the same name. Every topic you can think of is covered from dangerous weather to equipment malfunctions. The book is conveniently divided by topic, making it easy to find the exact type of anecdote you are searching for.

2.      Test Prep and Test Guide Books

While perhaps not as exhilarating a read as some other books on this list, if you are working on obtaining your pilot certification or are in the process of adding additional certs, a current test prep/test guide book certainly qualifies as a must-have.

The ASA has just released a brand-new series of study materials for 2020. The guides have been updated to reflect the latest test questions from the FAA data bank.

Each guide is packed with material to set you up for success on your FAA test. You will have access to every test question, graph, chart, figure and table from the test, plus full explanations of the answers.

Once you have studied the materials, put your newfound knowledge to the test by taking 5 free online practice exams (offered with most of the guides). Private Pilots and those going for their IFR rating can even receive their FAA knowledge test endorsement through the included software.

 Books are available for:

If you’re looking for the complete package, you can get a test prep bundle option which includes the book, downloads and online content.

3.      ASA Mountain, Canyon, and Backcountry Flying

ASA Mountain, Canyon, and Backcountry Flying (Softcover Book)

You’ve put in your time practicing basic flights over flat terrain and made countless landings on well-lit paved runways. Now you’re itching to go out and explore somewhere a little more adventurous.

If the next flight on your bucket list involves traversing mountains or canyons, if it takes you into remote backcountry areas, the ASA Mountain, Canyon, and Backcountry Flying guide is a must-have aviation book for you.

Preparing for a backcountry flight over unforgiving terrain requires a new level of skill, physical and mental preparation, equipment, and knowledge of your aircraft.

Who better to learn from than pilots who have been there and have the experience and real-world knowledge to share with you?

This guide walks you through the entire flight step-by-step starting in the planning and preparation phases. You will learn what emergency equipment and supplies to take along, what type of situations to watch out for and review emergency operations procedures to take if something goes wrong.

Along the way, the authors share their own personal experiences and insights including valuable analyses of accident scenarios they found themselves in. They also solicited contributions from other experienced backcountry pilots, making this guide a wealth of information.

4.      Aircraft-specific Checklists

It goes without saying that each aircraft is different and there is a learning curve when you transfer your skills from one aircraft to the next. Steepen that curve and get up to speed faster by including an easy-to-follow checklist to walk you through procedures on each aircraft.

The checklists are printed on sturdy spiral-bound pages and are designed to fit on nearly every kneeboard for ease of use.

Keep one on hand for each aircraft you fly, and you will always be prepared.

5.      Everything Explained for the Professional Pilot

Everything Explained for the Professional Pilot Private Pilot Aviation-Press

Starting with the cover of his book, Richie Lengel sets the reader at ease and assures us that we have picked up the right guidebook. The title - Everything Explained for the Professional Pilot – sets the expectation for exactly what Lengel then proceeds to deliver.

This book is a must-have for pilots who want “excruciatingly detailed plain English explanations of everything essential for every pilot.” Lengel opted for a non-traditional writing style based on an outline format that reads more like a checklist or scannable summary. This helps the reader skim through and get the gist of a topic before diving into the details.

6.      Gift Books

Pilots and fans will both appreciate adding some recreational titles to their aviation library.

From photography to military history, here are some favorites:

Air to Air Warbirds Volume 3

Air to Air Vol. 3 Warbirds

You don’t have to be a pilot appreciate Paul Bowen’s stunning photography, but it certainly helps if you are. In the third volume of his Air to Air Warbirds series, Bowen continues his ongoing tribute to military aircraft around the world and the men and women who flew and maintained them.

Bowen’s 200+ page book features over 500 crisp color photos along with information about each aircraft.

It is a perfect gift to grace the coffee-table of the most discerning aviator or military history buff.

To Fly and Fight: Memoirs of a Triple Ace

To Fly and Flight: Memoirs of a Triple Ace Non-Training Books and DVDs Bud Anderson

Explore military history when you follow pilot Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson through his Air Force career. From his World War II deployment with the 357th Fighter Group to his post-war days as a test pilot alongside Chuck Yaeger, Anderson’s tales will keep you engaged. As an extra special bonus, this copy of the book is autographed.

Tuskegee Airman: The Biography of Charles E. McGee

Tuskegee Airman: The Biography of Charles E. McGee

One of the legendary units of World War II was the Tuskegee Airman. Despite racial prejudices, this squadron of all African American airmen made history as the only WWII escort group to never lose one of their bombers to enemy fire. Follow McGee through his 30-year career in which he flew a record 409 total missions.

7.      ASA Airline Pilot Technical Interviews Third Edition

ASA Airline Pilot Technical Interviews Third Edition

The competition is getting more and more competitive. To land a lucrative airline pilot position, you need to stand out from the rest of the crowd of candidates. If you are wondering what you can do to gain that little extra advantage that makes all the difference, this is the book for you.

Career airline pilot and technical interview consultant Ronald D. McElroy candidly shares decades-worth of tips, tricks and invaluable experience that it usually takes pilots a whole career to accumulate. Think of him as your own personal mentor.

By studying this book and learning from McElroy’s experience, you will gain knowledge and be able to demonstrate that you bring more value to the table than the average new holder of an ATP certificate.

8.      ASA Mental Math for Pilots

ASA Mental Math for Pilots

Don’t fall into the tempting trap of relying on technology to do all of your cockpit calculations for you. If your tech fails, it will be up to you to have the skills to carry out the basic calculations, computations and conversions that allow you to safely land your aircraft.

Pilot Ronald D. McElroy walks you through easy tips and shortcuts for remembering how to calculate vital formulas like descent planning, aircraft range & performance data, fuel burn, hold entries and more.

This is one of those books that may keep you alive someday, and it is a must-have for your library.

9.      ASA Turbine Pilot's Flight Manual, 3rd Edition

ASA Turbine Pilot's Flight Manual, 3rd Edition

Making the move from prop to turbine? Imagine having a couple of experienced pilots walk you through the mechanics and operation of these engine systems.

Using easy-to-follow illustrations and commentary, Greg Brown and Mark Holt teach you the basics you should be aware of when you start flying a turbine aircraft. Learn about wake turbulence, high-altitude operations, descent planning, airspeed management and more.

10. ASA Severe Weather Flying Fourth Edition

ASA Severe Weather Flying Fourth Edition

What’s the best way to deal with the threat of severe weather? Avoid it. While it is important to learn what to do if you end up caught in a severe weather condition, focus on prevention may keep you from needing to use those severe weather flying skills in the first place.

In the ASA Severe Weather Flying Fourth Edition, you will learn how to anticipate severe weather conditions before they develop. Gain critical knowledge that will guide you in recognizing and avoiding thunderstorms, icing and other types of severe weather conditions.

11. ASA Professional Pilot, Third Edition

ASA Professional Pilot, Third Edition

When you need an intensive master course in the finer points of professional turbine aircraft piloting, you want an instructor who will share his real-world experience. Veteran pilot John Lowery does just that.

This isn’t a book of aviation theory or textbook principles. It is hands-on practical and actionable insight that you can immediately apply to increase your safety and improve your skills.

12. ASA Fly The Wing 4th Edition

ASA Fly The Wing 4th Edition

Are you about to start working on your ATP certification? This is the book to add to your supplemental reading list. The conversational style handbook sets you up for success with access to reference materials, an online glossary of flight terms and insight into each step of the training process from ground school procedures and equipment to simulators and finally to actual flight.

Get a realistic preview of the psychological, physical and technical preparation you will want to do to prepare for training.

The in-depth explanations of high-speed aerodynamics, take-offs and landings in heavy aircraft, high-altitude flying and more will be a welcome addition to your standard training manual.

Whether you are just starting to build your aviation library, or you are looking to expand your already robust collection, consider these 12 books must-haves for pilots and aviation enthusiasts.

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