Aircraft piloting/Aviation resources

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Learning to fly

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Many public, free sources of information about learning to fly are already available, especially for those who want to earn a pilot certificate, add a rating, or learn more about flying in the U.S. (although much of the information, except for specific regulations and procedures) is relevant outside the U.S.). For example:

Free, Public-Domain Aviation Handbooks by the FAA

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The FAA offers many complete, public-domain training handbooks for free download in PDF format. These books are the official references for many pilot certificates and ratings.

You can find currently available titles at: and Other FAA publications available for download are listed at:

The following books available via the previous link are of particular interest:

Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge

[edit | edit source] The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25A) is for aviators training for a private pilot certificate--and for pilots who want to refresh their knowledge of the fundamentals or learn about such advanced topics as operation of turbine engines and flying large and swept-wing aircraft. It introduces pilots to the theory and practical knowledge they will need as they progress in their pilot training from aerodynamics, engines, flight instruments, and navigation to avionics, weather, and airspace.

This 471-page handbook is available for download in PDF format directly from the FAA, by chapter. An unofficial copy, compiled into a single document and indexed with hyperlinks by section and subsection headings, can also be downloaded elsewhere.


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  • Chapter 1-Introduction to Flying
  • Chapter 2-Aircraft Structure
  • Chapter 3-Principles of Flight
  • Chapter 4-Aerodynamics of Flight
  • Chapter 5-Flight Controls
  • Chapter 6-Aircraft Systems
  • Chapter 7-Flight Instruments
  • Chapter 8-Flight Manuals and Other Documents
  • Chapter 9-Weight and Balance
  • Chapter 10-Aircraft Performance
  • Chapter 11-Weather Theory
  • Chapter 12-Aviation Weather Services
  • Chapter 13-Airport Operations
  • Chapter 14-Airspace
  • Chapter 15-Navigation
  • Chapter 16-Aeromedical Factors
  • Chapter 17-Aeronautical Decision-Making

Flight Training Handbook

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  • Preface
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction to Flight Training
  • Chapter 2 - Introduction to Airplanes and Engines
  • Chapter 3 - Introduction to the Basics of Flight
  • Chapter 4 - The Effect and Use of Controls
  • Chapter 5 - Ground Operations
  • Chapter 6 - Basic Flight Maneuvers
  • Chapter 7 - Airport Traffic Patterns and Operations
  • Chapter 8 - Takeoffs and Departure Climbs
  • Chapter 9 - Landing Approaches and Landings
  • Chapter 10 - Faulty Approaches and Landings
  • Chapter 11 - Proficiency Flight Maneuvers
  • Chapter 12 - Cross-Country Flying
  • Chapter 13 - Emergency Flight By Reference to Instruments
  • Chapter 14 - Night Flying
  • Chapter 15 - Seaplane Operations
  • Chapter 16 - Transition to Other Airplanes
  • Chapter 17 - Principles of Flight and Performance Characteristics

Airplane Flying Handbook

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The Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A) is the hands-on, how-to guide to flying all the maneuvers required for the private pilot and commercial pilot certificates. It is designed to assist student pilots learning to fly airplanes and to help current pilots and flight instructors expand their knowledge and skills. It's also one of the official references that pilot examiners use when testing the flying skills of pilots who are taking check rides.

This 210-page handbook is available for download in seven parts in PDF format.


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  • Chapter 1-Introduction to Flight Training
  • Chapter 2-Preflight, Postflight, and Ground Operations
  • Chapter 3-Takeoffs and Climbs
  • Chapter 4-Basic Flight Maneuvers
  • Chapter 5-Slow Flight, Stalls, and Spins
  • Chapter 6-Ground Reference and Performance Maneuvers
  • Chapter 7-Airport Traffic Patterns, Approaches, and Landings
  • Chapter 8-Faulty Approaches and Landings
  • Chapter 9-Flight by Reference to Instruments
  • Chapter 10-Night Operations
  • Chapter 11-Navigation Systems
  • Chapter 12-Emergency Operations
  • Chapter 13-Transition to Different Airplanes and Systems
  • Chapter 14-Transition to a Multiengine Airplane
  • Chapter 15-Transition to Tailwheel Airplanes
  • Chapter 16-Transition to Seaplanes
  • Chapter 17-Transition to Skiplanes
  • Chapter 18-Aeronautical Decision Making

Instrument Flying Handbook

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The Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-15) is the FAA's guide to all of the aeronautical knowledge and skills required to operate in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). It is designed for pilots training for an instrument rating, and for the instrument flight instructors who teach them. The Instrument Flying Handbook includes both theory and practical guidance on how to operate an aircraft solely by reference to instruments, from filing a flight plan and working with ATC to maintaining straight-and-level flight, flying DME arcs and holding patterns, and shooting ILS approaches.

This 280-page handbook is available for download in two parts in PDF format.


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  • Chapter 1: Human Factors
  • Chapter 2: Aerodynamic Factors
  • Chapter 3: Flight Instruments
  • Chapter 4: Airplane Attitude Instrument Flying
  • Chapter 5: Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers
  • Chapter 6: Helicopter Attitude Instrument Flying
  • Chapter 7: Navigation Systems
  • Chapter 8: The National Airspace System
  • Chapter 9: The Air Traffic Control System
  • Chapter 10: IFR Flight
  • Chapter 11: Emergency Operations
  • Appendices
  • Glossary
  • Index

Instrument Procedures Handbook

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The Instrument Procedures Handbook, a guide for advanced instrument pilots published by the FAA, is available for free download at:

The Aeronautical Chart User's Guide

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To learn more about aviation charts, you can download the Aeronautical Chart User's Guide (available in several parts in PDF format) from the FAA's National Aviation Charting Office (NACO):

Other Free Reference Materials

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The Aeronautical Information Manual and many other references of interest to pilots are available free online in both HTML and PDF format at

AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Online Safety Center

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A wealth of practical information for pilots is also available free to everyone (although the content is copyrighted) from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Online Safety Center at Resources include a variety publications in PDF format, free online courses, etc.

Information from Manufacturers

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You can also find much free information about weather, avionics, and other subjects on the Web.

For example, most manufacturers of GPS navigation gear offer their user manuals, PC-based simulators, training syllabi, and other resources via their Web sites. You needn't be an owner of the equipment to download the information and resources. See, for example,