Airways Top 10 Aviation Books
AvGeek Education

Airways Top 10 Aviation Books

DALLAS – The best aviation books to read on your way to becoming a pilot can vary depending on your reading preferences. While guidebooks and handbooks are still necessary, there are other aviation publications that can help you along the route.

What you need to learn to become a pilot will vary depending on the type of pilot you want to be. Professional pilots will be required to complete two major areas: physics and maths. Knowing the ins and outs of every airplane you fly is necessary for a private pilot certificate.

From fundamentals handbooks to memoirs and biographies, your next AV read should keep you engrossed from the first page to the last chapter. Let’s take a look at some of the best possibilities.

two pilots sitting inside plane
Photo by Rafael Cosquiere on

Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying 

The fundamentals of flying haven’t changed in nearly 80 years since this book was created. It illustrates the practice of flying as an art form. Wolfgang Langewiesche wants those interested in aviation to understand what happens to pilots while they fly; thus, it’s a fantastic primer for those looking to better their flying.

This book explains a wide range of precise descriptions of flight phases, and Langewiesche does so in language so everyone can comprehend what pilots actually accomplish in the cockpit. This entertaining and instructive book can benefit both novice pilots and experienced pilots.

silhouette of airplane under cloudy sky
Photo by Nur Andi Ravsanjani Gusma on

Weather Flying

Robert Buck is an experienced pilot who wanted to help other pilots comprehend the weather they encounter in the air. Dynamic weather patterns can alter throughout flight, and this book will teach you how to deal with these changes safely.

When flying in any weather, keep yourself and your passengers safe while remaining confident. This FAA-recommended book can help pilots at any point in their career.

Boeing 777-9x folding wingtip. Photo: Boeing

Fly the Wing  

Fly the Wing is a must-read for anybody considering a career as a commercial pilot. It’s a wonderful tool that any pilot can utilize to help with their training. Insights and suggestions maintain this book’s conversational approach easy to read.

When you finish this book, you’ll have a better knowledge of what it takes to be a commercial pilot.

two pilots flying an airplane
Photo by Kelly L on

The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual   

Do you want to delve a little deeper into the world of aviation? After you’ve completed your flight training, The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual is one of the best aviation publications you can read. When you have this option at your disposal, it is simple to keep your passengers pleased.

Get the information you need in more areas of aviation. Rick Durden, an experienced teacher and aviation law, addresses common aviation myths in this excellent read. If you liked the previous volume, The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual: Volume 2 is much better.

Image: FAA

Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge

This guidebook, published by the FAA, lays the groundwork for the knowledge required to obtain a private or commercial pilot license. The handbook, abbreviated PHAK, includes all of the topic areas you need to know thoroughly to pass the aeronautical knowledge component of the knowledge exam and the practical examination, or check ride.

This book covers everything from flying equipment to weather theory, aerodynamics, aircraft systems, airports, and navigation.

Flight crew. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/airways

The Next Hour

In this book, former FLYING editor-in-chief Richard Collins tackles the seriousness of flying with the appropriate mindset. Navigating any challenging circumstance in the air is the hallmark of being a skilled pilot, so Collins helps you prepare as much as possible by reading the anecdotes and practical tips that Collins gives from a lifetime of flying.

This book’s first-hand knowledge is unparalleled for pilots at every stage of their aviation career. Collins’ final book also recalls the narrative of when he recognized it was time to stop flying as pilot-in-command, which is a fantastic lesson for all pilots.

Wright Brothers. Photo: Public Domain

The Wright Brothers 

David McCullough, the celebrated biographer, delves extensively into one of the most well-known sets of brothers—but often a pair misunderstood by the world outside aviation. If you want to learn more about the first powered flight of an airplane, this is one of the greatest aviation books to read, whether you are a pilot or an aviation fan.

McCullough delves into the fresh source material to piece together the Wright Brothers’ story and journey to the maiden flight at Kill Devil Hills. It’s difficult not to admire their resolve, especially given the dangers they faced on their way to developing a functional heavier-than-air aircraft.

Ernest K. Gann writing studio. Photo: By Pi3.124 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Fate is the Hunter: A Pilot’s Memoir

Ernest Gann’s stories are unique because he was a wartime pilot as well as an early commercial pilot. Commercial aviation has come a long way, but Gann allows you to experience what it was like to fly in the 1930s. His vocabulary conjures the sights and sounds of early airliners such as the Douglas DC-3.

Pilots aren’t the only ones who enjoy Fate is the Hunter, and while it is a pilot’s memoir, his simple language appeals to everyone.

Photo: Marrit Gorter

Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History

You don’t have to be a woman or an aviation enthusiast to appreciate what these women went through to get to the sky. These women were not afraid to speak up in a male-dominated sector, and they contributed to ensuring that the women who came after them could fully explore their potential in aviation and as pilots.

Among the stories are those of Florence Klingensmith, Ruth Elder, Amelia Earhart, Ruth Nichols, and Louise Thaden, who excelled in flying and subsequently transferred their skills to other areas of aviation.

Five Mexican pilots attended the Moisant School of Aviation, seen here in 1914. From Left: Alberto Salinas Carranza, Gustavo Salinas Camiña, Juan Pablo Aldasoro Suárez, Horacio Ruiz Gaviño, Eduardo Aldasoro Suárez. Photo: Creyes – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Wings: A History of Aviation from Kites to the Space Age

Tom Crouch, an emeritus curator of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, guides you through the lives of some of aviation’s greatest pilots and others. Without their contributions, aviation would not be where it is today. He beautifully presents the stories of both amateurs and specialists, leaving you with a strong sense of how far we’ve truly come.

We think these titles are excellent reads, packed with relevant information and stories that anyone looking for aviation books would find well worth their time. 

Do you have other books not mentioned in this list that we missed? Be sure to let us know on our social media channels!

Featured image: List was originally compiled by

Chief Online Editor
Chief Online Editor at Airways Magazine, AVSEC interpreter, and visual artist. I am a grammar and sci-fi literature geek who loves editing text and film.

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