Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Best Of Books And Training Kits

New editions of aviation classics, high-tech study kits and aviation technology books to fill out your aviation library

Once upon a time in aviation, studying for the written and practical exams was anything but easy or convenient. Most likely, you'd sign up for ground school where, a few nights a week, you'd sit in a classroom and a well-worn instructor would lecture, refer to some oversized props and write on the chalkboard while you took long notes. Okay, maybe it was a whiteboard, but the idea was the same. Then you'd go home and—over many, many nights—study your notes, read the pilot's manual and, voilà, you'd take (and hopefully pass) your written.

But, folks today have it much easier. For one thing, hardly anybody sits in ground school anymore (at least not for the nonairline stuff), and now we have these whiz-bang, high-energy, graphic, 3D courses that are like miniature
Hollywood productions. Want to see what a stall looks like? Bam, there it is in color and perfectly animated from three different angles! And you can watch it over and over from the comfort of your favorite chair.

Then there's the matter of the information itself. With aviation becoming more complex each year, it's not easy to keep up with the changes. If you study from a book that's even a few years old, you can bet you're studying outdated information. It not only will be wrong, but could be dangerous in certain situations. Consider the new "line up and wait" ATC instruction, compared to the older "position and hold" version. You've got to have the latest information.

Aviation and reading have always gone hand in hand, with just about every pilot familiar with the tomes of Gann or Bach or Saint-Exupéry. There also have been a slew of great "how-to" books in aviation, from Wolfgang Langewiesche's classic, Stick and Rudder, to Robert Buck's unforgettable Weather Flying. They all share a common trait, which is the practical ability to convey useful information in an effective—and fun—way. That's why these books are still studied by student pilots today. If you haven't read them, pick one up!

But with some of aviation's classics approaching 60 years old, is there nothing newer that would help both experienced and novice aviators? Are only the older books good? Happily, there are several great manuals, books and study kits that pilots have at their disposal today. With aviation being taught now for over 100 years, and with the ever-expanding knowledge of how we humans read and understand, these new books and study kits are the ultimate in efficient, clear learning.

Just about every pilot I know has a well-stocked library of useful aviation books. It's all part of the whole "license to learn" thing we've been taught from the beginning. So start building your own library—or maybe add some new nuggets to your existing cache of aviator's books. We focus here on practical books and study kits for today's pilots, and try to stay away from the more subjective material of aviation novels, though we've included some "fun reads," as well.


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