Student Resources

Here’s my ongoing list of resources that I’ve used during my training. Hopefully you’ll discover something new that helps you through your studies.

General Knowledge

  • Rod Machado’s Private Pilot Handbook: The Ultimate Private Pilot Book with Rod Machado’s Private Pilot Workbook – I actually bought this soon after my discovery flight and read through most of it before I even started looking for a school. Some of the concepts didn’t click until after I started flying but it was helpful to pickup a lot of the basics ahead of time.
  • FAA Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge online and PDF download or old school paper – A must read. I still try to pick this up every few days and just browse for a topic that I haven’t reviewed in a while.
  • FAA Airplane Flying Handbook online and PDF download or old school paper – A must read. Helpful in preparing for or getting a refresher on maneuvers.
  • FAA FAR/AIM – the paper version was great for studying but I’m finding the PDF version quicker (and lighter) to use as a reference – must read. Be sure to checkout the recommended study list for the key topics, most versions should have one.
  • Premier Flight Center Ground School – based at KHFD. An excellent group of flight instructors and well maintained planes. We used the Jeppesen 141 kit. A few instructors recommended that I get some flight time before starting ground school, this was great advice. It’s a lot easier learning about systems, flight controls, navigation, and even weather when you’ve been exposed to it during your flight lessons. For me personally, I did so much reading ahead of time that I didn’t get much out of the ground school. I did pickup a few things that were explained by the instructor in a much better way than the book did. If nothing else, it was validation that I was actually understanding the material.
  • MzeroA online ground school – I tried this subscription service for a month to see what it was like. I checked out most of the private pilot videos after I completed my brick and mortar ground school at Premier. The videos are short and to the point. It makes for a nice refresher but the it doesn’t go deep enough to be your main source for training. They also have a nice sample test generator on their site for members. It looks like there’s a lot of extras including live-member only webinars every week where you can interact with Jason and other instructors just like you would at in-person sessions.

Communications

  • Live ATC with matching iOS app – Very helpful in the beginning to get over mic-fright. It will help you understand how terms are used and what some typical responses are. I highly recommended spending some time if you’re just getting starting. Find a Class D airport (I use KHFD), it shouldn’t be too busy and it won’t be flooded with the major commercial carriers. If you can find one near you, that’s even better. Just listen, it will be confusing at first but you’ll be amazed when you actually start understanding what’s going on. As landing clearances are issued, try to build a mental picture of who is where in relation to the airport. This skill will definitely help you once you start flying into uncontrolled airports. Keep in mind that just because someone is allowed to transmit on ATC channels, it doesn’t mean they are using proper phraseology (see next two items). You can reference the AIM and Pilot/Controller Glossary for correct terms and usage.
  • ATC Communications blog and podcast – Tips and best practices from a commercial pilot
  • Radio Mastery for VFR Pilots – Book from the creator of ATC Communications 

Sample Tests

  • Jeppesen 141 kit – The 141 kit includes a large question bank (~800 questions) that was helpful in identifying areas that I needed to go back and study.
  • Sporty’s Study Buddy – I tried the free test and seems to be pretty good. Uses FAA exam supplement. There are paid-for features to help study as well, but I didn’t try them.
  • MyWrittenExam.com – Another helpful free exam that uses the FAA exam supplement.

Other Helpful Tools (in some random order)

  • Luiz Monteiro’s collection of online simulators – Extremely helpful VOR and pitot-static simulators plus a whole bunch of calculators
  • Nav Trainer iPad app – This app helped when I way trying to get my head around VOR/ADF navigations, especially when I wasn’t online to access luizmonteiro.com
  • iAnnotate PDF ipad app – I keep all of the FAA and POH books in PDF format on my iPad. iBooks is a great app but it doesn’t allow for highlighting and notes on PDF files. iAnnotate is great for just that, plus it can connect to your cloud file sources.
  • Making Perfect Takeoffs and Landings in Light Airplanes – This goes into a little more detail than the Airplane Flying Handbook does, plus it’s loaded with tips. I’m constantly going back to it as my landings started getting worse when we introduced short and soft field landings.
  • AOPA Training site and magazine – If you’re not yet a member at least sign up for the free 6 month student membership. Vast amount of student resources.
  • MzeroA YouTube channel – A large collection of informative videos covering a wide array of topics. Jason presents concepts in an easy to understand way. Be sure not to miss the 31 Day Safer Pilot Challenge series.
  • MrAviation101 YouTube channel – I found most of his early videos talking through maneuvers interesting. The more recent videos are usually him taking his family or friends on a joy ride, so not much to learn from but still fun to watch.
  • Pilots of America Student Pilot forum – I occasional read this forum to see what other students are up to.
  • StudentPilot.com Articles and forum
  • StudyBlue – An online and mobile flashcard app that I used for studying the items that you just need to memorize. You can create your own cards or select from a large collection that others have uploaded. I mainly used some of the other private pilot collections, they contained enough content that I didn’t need to build my own.

I’d love to hear your recommendations as well.

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