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9 Best Pilot Books for Student Aviators

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Building an aviation library is a fantastic endeavor for a pilot of any level. In fact, the one thing that all pilots quickly learn is that the education process never really ends in the world of aviation. Therefore, a solid reference library allows each pilot to remain sharp and safe well beyond their training.

However, as a new student pilot embarking on your aviation journey, it may feel overwhelming trying to pinpoint exactly which books will fit your specific needs. Let us provide you with a curated list of the best aviation books to kickstart your aviation journey and library.

Quicklook: 9 Top Aviation Books for Student Pilots

The Best Books for Aviation Students

Although there are ample resources available to student pilots, the ones listed herein are a great start to your next step of becoming a certified pilot. 

Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge

Best for: Pilot training knowledge

This FAA published handbook, FAA-H-8083-25 (as revised), is an invaluable learning tool for any pilot in training. It includes principles of flight, airplanes and engines, performance, weather, navigation, and more. The latest edition reflects the newest aviation industry procedures, equipment, techniques, regulations, and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations. It’s also a key reference in the FAA Airman Certification Standards (ACS), and available free online in an electronic format.


Airplane Flying Handbook

Best for: Flying knowledge

The Airplane Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-3C (as revised), introduces the basic pilot skills and knowledge essential for piloting airplanes, including all the information required by the FAA for inflight operations. The latest edition expands and updates the material that is a key reference in FAA testing and ACS, and incorporates new areas of safety concerns and technical information, such as loss-of-control upset prevention. This handbook is available online for free in an electronic format.

Aviation Weather Handbook

Best for: Aviation weather knowledge

This FAA published handbook, FAA-H-8083-28 (as revised), is the key reference for meteorology and weather services pertinent to FAA Knowledge Exams and airman certification. Subjects covered include the U.S. aviation weather service program, weather briefings, weather theory and aviation hazards, meteorology, mountain, tropical, arctic, and space weather, observations, weather charts, advisories, forecasts, online weather resources and flight planning tools, and much more. The electronic format of this handbook is also available at no cost online.

Federal Aviation Regulations and Aeronautical Information Manual (FAR/AIM)

Best for: Federal aviation regulation knowledge

This manual of FAA regulations and procedures is an easy-to-use document containing information pertinent to pilots, flight crews, and aviation maintenance technicians. FAR/AIM books have been the standard regulatory reference of the industry since 1940, and continue to be a staple in every aviator’s library. Electronic versions of both FARs and AIM can be found online for free.

Private Pilot Test Prep

Best for: Private pilot knowledge test preparation

This ASA published book includes study questions for the private pilot FAA knowledge exam, along with answers and explanations. It includes figures, legends, and full-color charts from the FAA Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement, so you familiarize yourself with topics that will come up at the testing center. You can count on this book to provide you with the latest changes in the FAA Knowledge Exams through a free email subscription service and updates. ASA’s Private Pilot Test Prep is the pilot’s best resource for successful test-taking.


Private Pilot Oral Exam Guide

Best for: Private pilot oral exam preparation

The Private Pilot Oral Exam Guide complies with FAA ACS, rules, and procedures. It contains the questions most frequently asked by FAA examiners during the airplane checkride, along with the appropriate responses. FAA references are provided throughout for further study. 

The latest edition of this guide has been updated to further align with the ACS, with new information added or expanded upon regarding weather services, regulations, airport operations, airspace, and flight planning. This book is the complete resource to prepare applicants for the Private Pilot Airplane checkride.

Private Pilot Airplane Airman Certification Standards

Best for: Private pilot certification standards

This FAA published book, FAA-S-ACS-6 (as revised), outlines what pilot applicants must know, do, and consider for their Private Pilot Airplane FAA Knowledge Exam and practical/checkride. It includes the aeronautical knowledge, risk management, and flight proficiency standards necessary for certification, along with ACS codes and Companion Guide. This document is available online for free in an electronic format.

Jeppesen Professional Pilot Logbook

Best for: Logbook selection

Although we’ve highlighted many free electronic resources in this article, a pilot logbook is not where you want to cut corners. You’re spending a lot of time and money on your flight training and your logbook is the legal document that proves you have the necessary experience and endorsements to meet your certification requirements. 


The Jeppesen Professional Pilot Logbook will follow you throughout your aviation career and is one of the most important pieces of documentation you’ll ever own. There are many flight logbooks available on the market, but this high-quality one includes many pages and is customizable to meet any pilot’s needs. (And if you intend to co-pilot with a furry companion, you may consider investing in a fun —  but unrequired — “Doggy Log” as well!)

The Killing Zone: How and Why Pilots Die

Best for: The next step in your aviation journey

The term “killing zone” refers to the period from 50 to 350 flight hours when pilots leave their instructors’ tutelage and fly independently for the first time. This book is a survival guide for these pilots, helping them identify the potentially deadly pitfalls faced by unseasoned aviators

In addition, with today’s emphasis on mental health, The Killing Zone does an excellent job of focusing on the psychological and emotional challenges that pilots face. The author explains how these challenges can impact performance and decision making, while providing valuable insight into how pilots can overcome them.

Additional Resources for Student Pilots

There are many resources available to student pilots beyond the books covered on our list. As you’re expanding your aviation library, feel free to explore some other helpful, and often free, resources available to new aviators:

  • Aircraft specific manuals, checklists, flight deck posters: Each aircraft has normal and nonnormal procedures associated with its operations. As a pilot, you must be familiar with the equipment you’re flying to manage it effectively. Flight deck posters are a great tool to help you chair fly on your own time so you can build up your flight deck familiarity.
  • FAA regulations and policies: The FAA offers an ample number of free resources, including Advisory Circulars, MMELs, Aircraft Safety Alerts, handbooks, and other documents to help you expand your aviation library further.
  • FAA Aeronautical Information Services (AIS): AIS is the authoritative government source for collecting, storing, maintaining, and disseminating aeronautical data for the U.S. and its territories. It contains a catalog of digital products, including planning charts, VFR/IFR charts, supplemental charts/pubs, and more to provide you with the foundations for flight in the national airspace system.
  • LiveATC: Effectively communicating over the radio is a critical part of every aviator’s career. LiveATC allows you to listen to live ATC coverage so you can learn proper communication skills and radio abilities.
  • Online simulators: Online simulators provide access to a variety of tools, from e6B calculators to interactive basic navigation simulators. Simulators are great tools to help you develop proficiency with certain flight tasks on your own time and at a reduced cost.
  • WINGS pilot proficiency program – This proficiency program developed by the FAA encourages ongoing training that provides you an opportunity to fly on a regular basis with an authorized flight instructor. Reviewing and refreshing your knowledge is just as important as actual flying. To meet this goal, the FAA provides you with many opportunities to complete online courses, attend seminars and other events, and participate in webinars. Many third-party activities, such as those offered by ASA and Sporty’s, qualify for WINGS credit and indicate such credit on their websites.

Start Your Aviation Library Today

Change is a constant in the aviation industry, and it’s essential that your knowledge, skills, and aviation library remain current to keep up. We encourage you to start building your aviation library with these book recommendations, and continue to expand it as your knowledge and skills develop. Remember, when you stop learning, you stop growing — amounting to an existential danger in the aviation industry.


Can you be a self taught pilot?

No, flight training must be completed under the supervision of an FAA certified flight school or independent flight instructor.

What is the easiest pilot to become?

Sport pilot; this certificate is simpler, faster, and less expensive than a private pilot certificate. No medical certificate is required for this rating, and it is perfect for someone who wants to fly smaller, lighter aircraft.

What age is too late to become a pilot?

There is no age limit to become a pilot, however, most ratings require pilots to obtain and maintain an FAA medical certificate to exercise their privileges. Keep in mind, if your goal is to fly for an airline, you must retire by the age of 65.

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