Best Student Pilot Handbook

Hey guys,

I am looking for a book for my friend.

He’s interested in aviation and is just getting into MSFS.

Like most of us at some point, we’ve had to learn, literally, how to fly in sims. Often we look back after many years of reading websites or books that have some breakthrough perspective or piece of advice and say,

“Wow, of course. Wish someone had told me this back then!”

I think he’d benefit from a good flying book, not needlessly technical, but with a good explanation of how and why things work in an airplane.

Any suggestions?

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The FAA has a pretty nice online manual.


I did send those to him.

I like them myself, I was also hoping to find something more casual to reel him in slowly.

It’s funny. One of my favorite treatments of engine design is in the old A2A manuals. Simple. Direct. Easy to digest.

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The FAA stuff is excellent in terms of technical content and diagrams. The writing is ■■■■. I am convinced they were written by AI. Stick and Rudder is a great classic. Maybe so old that it could be a turnoff depending on your friend’s tastes. Pilots are such left-brain people that they seem unable to write technically while maintaining the supreme beauty that is the greatest gift of flight. It’s a concoction of physics and magic. The subject needs the treatment of a true writer like @BeachAV8R or @Troll. I know of nothing modern in English that I could recommend.


Ha, yep. That was actually the first book I sent him. I love the writing.

There are so many concepts in flying that seem to be taught so poorly that you don’t really understand them until some good instructor or old salt explains them to you, sometimes years later. :joy:

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Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators taught me more than any other single book. It’s not high literature either but what military technical manual is?

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This one?

No, I said that he was my, Friend :rofl:

I still have marks where my Aviation Indoc instructor beat me with that thing!

I was looking for something more along the lines of,

“See Spot fly.”

“Fly, Spot, fly!”


I should probably leave this question answered by the professionals, but here goes anyway. @smokinhole beat me to it, but I also recommend Stick and Rudder.

More of a reference book, but with easy to understand explanations and a lot of images, Everything Explained is pretty good. I’ve misplaced my copy, but will probably pick it up again.

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Another great suggestion!

I have copy at home. I thought it might be too soon for this one as well. Both this an Aero for Nasal Radiators are excellent books, but I think they might blow his mind.

Stick and rudder is probably about the speed I was thinking. Sort of like important things, practically explained.

You’d actually think there would be more out there, But writing is an art I guess.

And all I got is a crayon. :wink:

Seriously, thanks again for all these great suggestions! He will probably read all these once the bug bites him.

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I bought this for my son a fair few years ago. It was really appreciated as it kept his monitor at the right height while he played Left 4 Dead. :wink:

It was quite specific about FSX (I think, it’s been a while) rather than the new one, so I’m unsure if it aged. I remember it having a lot of general aviation instruction in it though. I could grab it and take a look?

EDIT: It’s got a ‘Look Inside’ with a table of contents - maybe too light, dunno - Microsoft Flight Simulator X For Pilots Real World Training: Van West, Jeff, Lane-Cummings, Kevin: 8601404296383: Books


This is a site with quite a few ‘classics’ regarding flightsim books.
They are all available to read on the website.
Some are great, others are less useful and several have a narrow scope or software title they cover. Still worth browsing for someone new:


I think the Kershner books are great. I don’t know if they are being updated with his passing though…

And for less dry…Rod Machado has some great humor he uses as a tool for learning…


Very cool! I’ll send him all these links.

I’ve never read Machado, but I’ve heard so much about him.

I actually had that FSX book I think. I wish they still did things like that.

Does anyone remember one for FS98, I think? It had a series of cross countries, almost like OG bush flights. Just fun to learn while playing around.

These are all awesome choices. Stick and Rudder was already on the way to him, so I’m glad that it’s generally well regarded amongst you all.

I’ll probably pick up at least the Machado and maybe the FSX one next.

Then frighten him with the Aero book! :grin:

Although I can’t argue that it is the gold standard on the subject for me…the parts with the smaller words anyway. :wink:

Again, I really appreciate everyone’s input!


Probably the best and most comprehensive science text ever written by man. Covering all scientific principles from foundational to experimental. Directly addresses the science of flight:

The Way Things Work: Macaulay, David: 8601422505689: AmazonSmile: Books

I mean look at the diagrams, it’s pure genius:


It is in fact an excellent youth or “everyman” introduction to a lot of scientific topics and basics physics.
Also who doesn’t love a wooly mammoth?


Finally a textbook that’s made for me!

Excellent! That will certainly give him a framework on which to build.

I feel his pain. He’s basically trying to teach himself to fly in the simas most of us have dome at some point.

With your kind assistance, maybe we can shave a few hours of,

"Why’s it doing that?"

From the process. :+1:

Thank you everyone again!

Stick & Rudder was the best book I ever read on flying


Reading this, I really need to get a copy of Stick and Rudder…I’ve seen previous recommendations for it but I think it wasn’t on Kindle and I didn’t end up ordering a hard copy.

An early Xmas present, perhaps :slightly_smiling_face:


Since it is for sim flying look online for an original Red Baron manual pdf. As I seem to recall it had a decent section on learning how to fly.


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