Are you ready to start your journey toward becoming a private pilot? Whether you're ready to begin your private pilot training, or you're just wondering what kind of knowledge is required to obtain a private pilot certificate, you can start right here. This is a list of books and reference material you'll need for your private pilot flight training. It's not an exhaustive list - there are other books that you'll also need, like the pilot operating handbook for your airplane, as well as charts and reference material specific to your own flight training. But in general, the books on the list below are very commonly seen in private pilot ground school classes and many, many flight instructors will require you to purchase these for your private pilot training.
The Federal Aviation Regulations/Aeronautical Information Manual, known to pilots as the FAR/AIM, is the core pilot book. It is absolutely essential to be familiar with the regulations, and you'll be required to memorize many of the Federal Aviation Regulations, so this book is a must-have. A digital copy of the FARs is available on the FAA’s website, but you might still want a hard copy — many instructors and examiners will expect you to be familiar with it.
Private Pilot Manual
You may want to get with your future instructor to see which book he or she prefers, but if you just can’t wait to get started, Jeppesen has a great one called Guided Flight Discovery, Private Pilot.
Syllabus or Training Guide
Your instructor will typically give you a training outline or a syllabus of some sort. If not, you can use one of the many generic syllabi on the market. If your instructor hasn't mentioned it, be sure to ask how he or she intends to track your progress and evaluate how you are learning. There’s nothing more frustrating than not knowing where you stand. Many instructors use the Jeppesen Private Pilot Syllabus, but there are others out there. This one is a good one and can be adapted for either Part 61 or Part 141 training.
You'll need a weather book or two in order to learn the "codes" used in aviation weather. These days, much of it is can be translated for the unfamiliar pilot, but trust me, you’ll use this one a lot, especially when you start flying cross-country flights and are left to interpret all of those pesky weather reports filled with code on your own. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you won’t need to reference it much, but even experienced pilots see an unfamiliar weather report from time to time. This one from Gleim is a good place to start: Aviation Weather and Weather Services.
FAA Knowledge Test Guide/Question Bank
This is a big book of questions and answers that will fully prepare you for the FAA knowledge exam. It's a must-have. Some of those knowledge exam questions are tricky. Not to mention, if you don't take advantage of learning all of the test questions and answers when they're available to you, your instructor might question your IQ, anyway.
FAA Oral Exam Guide
The oral exam guide is also a big book of questions and answers, which will help prepare you for the FAA Oral Exam at the end of the course. Not to be confused with the knowledge exam, the oral exam is part of the check ride in which the examiner will ask you a lot of questions. Some of them are simple, one-word answers, but most of them require some thought or explanation. This book offers a multitude of questions and answers commonly seen on the oral exam portion of the check ride. Well worth the few dollars of investment.
FAA Practical Test Standards
The Practical Test Standards (PTS) outlines exactly what you’re responsible for knowing and what your instructor is responsible for teaching. It spells out exactly what you’ll be evaluated on during the FAA oral and practical exams and serves as a good guideline for studying. Without this book, you'll be in the dark about what exactly is required of you on the final check ride. It takes you through the responsibilities of both you and your examiner for a successful check ride outcome.