Becoming a pilot is an exciting adventure—one that takes a lot of planning and preparation. You’ve chosen the best flight school and decided which pilot career you’re most interested in. You researched how long pilot training will take. Now all that’s left to do is pay for flight training and get started.
Jumpstart your schooling by stocking your bookshelf with the most helpful, must-read books for pilots. To get you inspired, we’re sharing our own list of the best books for student pilots. These aviation books include not only official ground course content but also supplemental material that will help you flesh out what you learn from your standard pilot training books.
Whether you’re just getting started flying yourself or you want to buy a useful gift for the student pilot in your life, the eleven items on this list are all books every pilot (especially student pilots) should read.
1. Everything Explained for the Professional Pilot
There’s a reason Richie Lengel’s best-selling book is on its 14th edition. Everything Explained truly does explain just about everything a pilot needs to know. Not only that, but it does it in an easy-to-read style that is actually enjoyable.
Add a copy of Everything Explained to your pilot library if you’re looking for a volume with the meaty depth of training material but with an enjoyable casual reading style that won’t put you to sleep.
2. ASA Navigating Weather
Modern pilots have real-time access to the kind of detailed weather condition monitoring that aviation pioneers could only dream of. There’s just one problem. All the weather radar data in the world is only as helpful as your ability to understand and use it.
Before taking off for your first solo flight, you should be comfortable reading and interpreting radar information. You should also understand how to apply that information as part of your aviation risk management process.
Dr. David Ison’s Navigating Weather book is a great first step. Ison walks you through essential radar concepts including operation and interpretation. All explanations include real-world examples to help you understand and implement what you’re reading.
3. ASA Dictionary of Aeronautical Terms
English may be the primary language of aviation, but when you first start reading your student pilot training materials, even native English speakers can easily get lost in the jargon. The sheer number of acronyms and unique phraseologies of aviation make a book like the ASA Dictionary of Aeronautical Terms (now in its seventh edition) a must-read book for students who want to become pilots.
The seventh edition version of the ASA dictionary includes more than 12,000 definitions plus nearly 500 illustrations and tables to further clarify what each confusing bit of airplane speak means. It’s a perfect gift and one of the best aviation books for student pilots.
Note: This valuable book is also recommended for new dispatchers, mechanics, and others who need to achieve aviation lingo fluency so they can effectively communicate with others in the industry.
4. ASA Visualized Flight Maneuvers Manual
Learning to fly visualized flight maneuvers is a very important part of student pilot training. First you’ll read about and study the maneuvers in ground school, then take to the air for hands-on training with your CFI.
Pilots in training can give themselves a leg up by adding one of the ASA’s Visualized Flight Maneuvers Manuals to their student pilot library. Unlike other training handbooks that lump all general aviation aircraft into a single group, the ASA recognizes that certain important flight and maneuvering characteristics differ greatly from one aircraft configuration to the next.
To give student pilots a more useful guide, the ASA books are separated into High-Wing Aircraft Visualized Flight Maneuvers and Low-Wing Aircraft Visualized Flight Maneuvers. Pick the one that matches your training aircraft type or grab a copy of each so you can compare handling differences side by side. It’s a great educational opportunity and can also help you narrow down which type of aircraft configuration you want to buy someday.
5. ASA Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
Supplement your other student pilot texts with a copy of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. This ASA-written guide covers basic essential knowledge for pilots that will be useful to you from your student pilot days all the way through earning more advanced certifications.
The book is written with the remote, sport, private, commercial, and flight instructor student pilot in mind. It’s a perfect reference material for topics you will find on both the FAA Knowledge Exam and the checkride. Think of it as your aviation encyclopedia with easy to browse chapter summaries and supplemental illustrations to add to and support the written content.
6. Gleim Pilot Handbook
The Gleim Pilot Handbook is a complete ground school text covering all the FAA-mandated material in an organized and concise way. This one manual pulls together relevant FAR content along with aeronautical knowledge, airplane handling and maneuvers, aviation weather, aviation weather services information, flight planning, navigation, and more. Knowledge transfer outlines couple with easy-to-read study units to make the extensive data in this handbook easier to digest and remember.
7. Test Prep Guides
No matter what level of pilot certification you are working on, both ASA and Gleim make comprehensive test prep guides to help you focus and streamline your studying. Lots of these guides come in both a printed and digital format. We suggest the ASA test prep bundle packs so you can pair your printed book with a digital version plus have access to online test prep software.
Test prep bundle packs are available not only for private pilot, but also for remote pilot, instrument rating, commercial pilot, ATP, flight instructor, powerplant, and AMT general.
Pro Tip: The digital version of the book includes free updates as new material is released, so your study materials will never be outdated.
Rod Machado’s Instrument Pilot Handbook
Celebrity flight instructor Rod Machado is well-known for his legendary ability to make dry topics interesting. As a case in point, many books on technical subjects like IFR fall into the necessary but boring category. That’s why student pilots who are pursuing their instrument certification will love the fresh, fun, engaging way that Machado approaches instrument flight topics in the second edition of his Instrument Pilot’s Handbook. The content is in-depth, yet shared in a clear, concise, and memorably witty way. Finally—an IFR handbook you actually want to read and re-read.
Aircraft Procedure Checklist
An easily skimmable aircraft-specific quick reference procedure checklist takes the pressure off your memory. At a glance you can find all the must-know specs, data, and procedures for your aircraft. Plus, the checklist is sized to fit your kneeboard so you can keep it secure and easily accessible during flight.
Don’t worry about your checklist wearing out with heavy use. It’s printed on virtually indestructible tabbed pages secured with spiral binding.
Pro Tip: Student pilots, order a quick reference book for your training aircraft early on during ground school, then study it frequently so by the time you take off on your first real world flight, you are familiar with what information is included in your guide and where to find it.
When you transition to a new aircraft, pick up a checklist for that plane as well. Aircraft checklists are available for many popular GA aircraft including most Cessnas, Pipers, and Mooneys.
Current FAA FAR/AIM Manual
Granted, you will most likely have a digital version of the FAR/AIM, but a physical copy of the Federal Aviation Regulations and Aeronautical Information Manual also has its place among the books for student pilots. As a student, you’re just learning all the rules and procedures that you must know as a certified pilot, so you’ll find yourself referencing the FAR/AIM a lot.
The print copy of the FAR/AIM also includes other bonus materials like a pilot certification guide, pilot/controller glossary, airworthiness standards, flight and pilot school information, and FAA contact details.
Pro Tip: Use sticky notes and highlighters to mark up the manual and draw your attention to the areas you’ll be tested on.
Want more? Add these books and blogs to your reading list:
It’s your turn
Certified pilots, we’d like to hear your thoughts: which of the books on this list do you think all student pilots should own? What other books would you recommend to new pilots who are just starting out? Student pilots: which of these books have you already read and which are you adding to your list? Anything else that your CFI has recommended as supplemental reading?