8 Best Books For Pilots & Aviation Enthusiasts

No matter if you’re a newbie pilot or have thousands of hours in your logbook, there’s always more to learn.

One of our favorite ways to learn is from books, and we kind of assume that you might too.

So we’ve put together a list of the eight best aviation books for pilots and aviation enthusiasts.

These books range from instructional to biographical so there’s something for everyone.

Without further ado, let’s jump right into it!

#1 An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth By Chirs Hadfield

Colonel Chris Hadfield, the author of this book has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4000 hours in space.

This riveting autobiography teaches you how to live better by taking lessons from the rigorous requirements of going to outer space and applying them to everyday life… and flying.

This book is one we are currently reading and find many parallels to flying on earth.

One of our favorite quotes is, “Nothing boosts confidence quite like simulating a disaster.”

Here’s the five big ideas you’ll find in this book:

  • In order to stay calm in a high-stress, high-stakes situation, all you really need is knowledge.
  • Feeling ready to do something doesn’t mean feeling certain you’ll succeed. Truly being ready means understanding what could go wrong—and having a plan to deal with it.
  • Anticipating problems and figuring out how to solve them is actually the opposite of worrying: it’s productive.
  • Optimism and confidence come not from visualizing victory, but from visualizing defeat and figuring out how to prevent it.
  • If you’re striving for excellence—whether it’s in playing the guitar or flying a jet—there’s no such thing as over-preparation. It’s your best chance of improving your odds.

#2 Stick & Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying by Wolfgang Langewiesche

An oldy but goodie, “Stick and Rudder” was published in 1944 but continues to be one of the most highly regarded books that’s helped countless aspiring and seasoned pilots better understand and appreciate the Art of Flying.

A great read for any pilot or aviation enthusiast.

Some of the things you’ll find discussed in this book include:

  • An explanation of the Angle of Attack, including what it is and why it is not visible, as well as how lift is created and the pilot's role in creating it.
  • The reasons why planes stall.
  • The Landing Approach, including how an aviator’s acts in judging the landing approach and the visual clues that veteran pilots judge unconsciously to land their aircraft – including “The Spot that Does Not Move” and how novice pilots can learn and use these clues to their advantage.
  • The paradox of glide.
  • The “tail-dragger”, which highlights landing gear and explains why it can be difficult.
  • Why planes don’t feel the wind and hence, why they typically fly slightly sidewise.

#3 Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O’Brien

We all know Amelia Earhart but have you heard of the four female aviators highlighted in this book, Ruth Elder, Ruth Nichols, Florence Klingensmith, and Louise Thaden?

These less known five women offered incredible contributions to the aviation industry and this book accounts the trials, tribulations, successes, and everlasting impact they have had.

It’s inspiring to see how they have paved the way for women pilots today, in a historically male-dominated industry.

#4 Into the Abyss: An Extraordinary True Story by Carol Shaben

This book tells the true story of a computer plane that crashed in the remote wilderness of Canada in October 1984.

On board the plane were 10 passengers; 6 perished and four survived: the pilot, a politician, a police officer, and a criminal who was being escorted to face his charges.

The politician was Larry Shaben, the first Muslim Cabinet Minister of Canada and the father of the book’s author.

The story tells the real-life harrowing experience the four survivors endured and the life-changing friendships they made under desperate circumstances.

#5 Weather Flying, Fifth Edition by Robert Buck

Named the “bible of weather flying,” this resource guide by Robert Buick provides insightful and potentially life-saving tips that pilots’ can use to fly their aircraft in all kinds of weather conditions.

#6 The Next Hour: The Most Important Hours in Your Logbook by Richard L. Collins. by Peter M Buffington

Called an essential reading for all pilots at all skill levels, author and aviator Collins shares his personal experiences of how to navigate through the inherent risks that come with flying small planes.

Topics you’ll find while reading include:

  • The three word emergency checklist all pilots should know
  • Why the thought process of a pilot is more important than his experience
  • The unique trials, tribulations – and rewards – of night flying.
  • How to effectively manage technology in the cockpit.ç

#7 Fate Is the Hunter: A Pilot's Memoir by Ernest K. Gann

This book is a fan favorite.

The pilot Ernest K. Gann explains his memories of the early days of commercial aviation. In these times, flying was anything but routine.

That's why the author explains all the emotions and fears but also the history of the beginning of aviation.

Ernest wasn't just a pioneer and a great pilot, he was also one of the few writers that had (and still has) the ability to connect deeply with the readers that are current or aspiring pilots. 

#8 The Killing Zone, Second Edition: How & Why Pilots Die by Paul A. Craig

The Killing Zone is a must-read for all pilots fresh out of school.

This is a survival guide for new pilots that leave their instructors behind and fly as a pilot in command for the first time.

Based on scientific studies over 20 years, this book analyzes pilot behaviors and aviation flying accidents.

So, here is our advice, don't fly solo without understanding all the dangers of the killing zone. 


What’s Your Favorite Aviation Book? 

Obviously we didn’t hit them all but would love to know you’re favorite and we will add it to the list!

Comment below if you feel so obliged!

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