With the success of this question, which asks about good books on aerodynamics, I thought I'd ask another general question regarding books that we can turn into a community wiki.

What are good books to use to learn how to fly? And yes, I know that, in the end, you'll just need a good instructor. But there are several books that suppliment a good instructor, or can be used by people who are interested in learning to fly, but perhaps are unable to get an instructor just yet.

Note: I am well aware this is a very general question. But I would like to have a centralized resource, vetted by users of this stack, that we can point to when someone asks for text resources on learning how to fly.


As you pointed out in your question, no book is a substitute for actual instruction in an aircraft with a flight instructor. That being said, doing your homework and knowing what your instructor is going to expect goes a long way toward completing your training in a timely manner.
The books here are all great reference texts to be combined with a flight instruction curriculum.

FAA Publications / Books for initial training

A surprising number of new student pilots are not aware of the wealth of information the FAA has compiled and published to help people learn to fly. There is a whole series of FAA Handbooks and Manuals that you can take advantage of which are available from the FAA as well as from a variety of publishers like ASA. While all of the regulatory information is geared toward US/FAA regulations much of the technique information, signs & markings, etc. will be universal, in conformance with ICAO rules.
I list a whole bunch of them here, but you can find a wealth of information by googling what you want to do and the words "FAA Handbook".

  1. Books on Flying the aircraft - maneuvers, etc.
    Quite simply if it flies the FAA probably has a book about how you should fly it. These books cover basic flying technique and the maneuvers the FAA expects pilots to be able to demonstrate.
    The popular ones include:
    The Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A)
    The Helicopter Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-21A)
    The Glider Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-13A)
    The Balloon Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-11A)

  2. Books on "essential aviation knowledge" - Airport signs & markings, "rules of the air", etc.
    The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25A) is the starting point here.
    The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) is another key resource (you will often find this as a combined "FAR/AIM" printed publication).

  3. Books for the more advanced stuff - Instrument ratings and beyond
    The Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-15B) and Instrument Procedures Handbook (FAA-H-8083-16) are excellent references for pilots pursuing an instrument rating.

  • $\begingroup$ +1, Very comprehensive answer, Well Done. $\endgroup$ – AndroidSmoker74 Apr 5 '19 at 21:11

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