What books should every pilot have on their bookshelf? There is an endless number of resources for pilots. It’s hard to know where to turn when you first start flying which ones are the best.
So, I’ve narrowed it down to the six books I have continually turned to throughout my 20-year aviation career. These books will give you a solid foundation for almost every aspect of flying.
Here’s a picture of my bookshelf at work.
Yes, I have more than 5 books here…the Flight Safety books are training manuals for the King Air 200 and 350.
I don’t mention operators manuals in this article because this article is about general aviation resources, but they are also a must!
Some of these you can get for free on the FAA website, but I still prefer to have paper copies of them.
Let’s get into the top six aviation books (in my humble opinion).
Everything Explained for the Professional Pilot
I can’t say enough about this book. If you have ANY aviation questions, this book will answer them.
It doesn’t matter what aviation rating you are trying to get (private, commercial or ATP), you need this book.
The best part is it’s organized by subject. Richie Lingle pulled all the sources for each subject and summarizes it so you don’t have to go searching through ten different books to find the answer.
The only annoying thing about the book is the clip art from the 90s and the overzealous bolding of words, but if you can get past that, it’s extremely useful.
You don’t have to be a “professional” pilot to own this book. I wish I had a copy when I first started flying. It would have made my life a lot easier.
I know this book is expensive…but trust me, it’s worth the $50 price tag.
While the FARs and AIM are available for free on the FAA’s website, I also buy ASA’s combined printed copy every year.
You don’t need to buy these, it’s only my personal preference to have a copy. Here is the link for the FAA’s FARs and for the AIM.
You could probably get away with buying a copy every other year. Make sure you check out the list of changes to the FARs every year if you buy one every other year.
Pro Tip: every time you look up a FAR, tab it. Over time you will get to know the FAR’s inside and out.
When you buy a new copy spend an hour and transfer the tabs from the old to the new and re-read the regulation you tabbed/highlighted. This will give you the chance to see the regulations every year.
This book is a classic. As of right now it’s been updated 5 times and for good reason. It’s really well written. When I started reading it I couldn’t believe the author could turn a boring (my opinion) topic into a page-turner.
I’ve highlighted a ton. I won’t lie, it’s a little intimidating, so I read it a little bit every day. I plan on re-reading it multiple times throughout my career.
This is another book I wish I had read when I first started and then re-read over the years as I gained more experience and could correlate the book to my experiences.
Please take the time to read this book.
Pilot Weather Books: From Solo to the Airlines
Many pilots struggle with the weather. It’s difficult to find a book that not only teaches you the basics of weather but also explains HOW to apply weather to your flight.
I can’t recommend this book enough. It is full of updated photos, in-depth discussions, and real-world examples. It’s written by two of the leading aviation weather experts.
Also, if you click the link, you will get 10% off the hardcover book. Use the code “think” at checkout for 10% off.
This is another expensive book, but like Everything Explained for the Professional Pilot, it’s a must-have book on your shelf!
Radio Mastery for IFR Pilots and Radio Mastery for VFR Pilots
This is a self-published book by Jeff Kanarish, but don’t be put off by the self-publishing aspect. These books are flat-out fantastic.
He is a master at explaining radio communications in a way anyone can understand.
I’ve been flying instruments for quite some time and I can’t believe how much I got out of the IFR book. It’s an excellent refresher for experienced IFR pilots and a must-read for brand new IFR pilots.
Of all the books I wish I had known about when I first started flying, this is the one book I really needed. If you only buy one of these six recommended books, grab either Jeff’s IFR or VFR book.
Instrument Procedures Handbook
This is another book you can get for free on the FAA’s website, but I chose to buy ASA’s paper copy so I can highlight it.
Unlike the Instrument Flying Handbook published by the FAA, this book goes beyond explaining how to fly instruments. It explains all the other stuff associated with instrument flying like obstacle departure procedures and STARs.
If you are a more experienced IFR pilot, you could probably get away with not reading it, but every IFR pilot should, at some point in their career, read this book cover to cover.
P.S. All of these links, with the exception of the FAA links, are affiliate links. Please help me out and use these links if you plan on buying these books. It helps me cover the costs of running this website, and it costs you nothing. Thanks!
Want more resources? Check out this PDF below on decoding NOTAMs.
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