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Mostly Free Aviation Resources

Pilot Clip ArtThis page includes links to aviation-related books, teaching and learning resources, online courses, and other information that I recommend to students, pilots, instructors, and virtual aviators (Flight Simulator hobbyists). The resources include:

Unless otherwise noted, items on this page are freely downloadable from the Web.

Check my blog at Wordpress for discussions of topics of interest to pilots, students, and instructors, such as BruceAir's Guide to ATC Services for VFR Pilots.

Free File Viewers

Adobe ReaderMost printed publications available via these links are in .pdf format, which requires the free Adobe Reader software; you can download the reader from the Adobe website.

Office LogoYou may also find resources in PowerPoint or Microsoft Word format. You can download free viewers for Microsoft Office applications (e.g., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Visio) from the Microsoft Office website. The file viewers let you open and review documents (but you can’t edit the files) even if you don’t have an Office application installed in your computer.

Training Handbooks from the FAA

The FAA offers many complete, public-domain training handbooks for free download in Adobe Reader (.pdf) format. These books are the official references for many pilot certificates and ratings, and they’re comprehensive, practical guides to the core knowledge every pilot should possess.

The best place to find the latest versions of these handbooks is the FAA’s website, especially the Online Resources page at www.FAASafety.gov.

FAA Training Handbooks

The FAA has been revamping its Web pages, and sometimes it takes a bit of pointing-and-clicking to find specific titles. New titles are added periodically, so check back occasionally to see what’s been put on the virtual bookshelf.

Other good places to find these handbooks on the FAA website include:

Here's a list of FAA titles that you may find especially useful. If you prefer real books, ASA offers reprints, including eBook versions, of many titles.

Other Free FAA Resources

FAAST LogoThe Aeronautical Information Manual and many other references of interest to pilots are available free online in both .html and .pdf format at the FAA’s Air Traffic Publications website. Publications available include:

GPS and WAAS Resources

Air Safety Institute

AOPA ASF home pageA wealth of practical information for pilots is also available free to everyone (although the content is copyrighted) from the Air Safety Institute and its online library. Resources include:

I frequently use Air Safety Institute materials as teaching aids, homework for students, and review materials for pilots getting back up to speed. To see a complete list of current publications offered by Air Safety Institute, visit the Publications page.

AOPA has organized many of its valuable articles from AOPA Pilot and other sources in the AOPA Pilot Information Center, available only to AOPA members. The Pilot Information Center provides links to details about such subjects as aircraft ownership, flight planning, learning to fly, medical certification, and international flying.

NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System

The Office of the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System publishes a monthly newsletter Callback. The newsletter (available in both HTML and PDF formats) features incidents reported by pilots, air traffic controllers, and others involved in the aviation system. Each issue is well worth reading.

NASA ASRS

You can subscribe (free) and get an email summary of each month's issue.

To learn more about the Aviation Safety Reporting System, including how to file a report electronically, visit the ASRS home page, where you can read an overview of the program.

For more information about the confidentiality and immunity provisions and caveats associated with ASRS reports, see Advisory Circular 00-46D, also available on the program's website.

Weather and Flight Planning

The Web offers an ever-increasing array of services to help pilots collect and understand information about the weather and to assist with flight planning. Many sites in the following list offer free products; others provide tools via subscription or purchase.

Of course, you should always use official sources, such as an FSS or DUATS, to get a complete briefing before you fly.

Aviation Charts and Data

The following links take you to sites that offer a variety of information about airports, navigation aids, and regulations. Some sites also offer online charts and airport diagrams.

Other handy free sources of airport and navigation data include:

Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide

NACO Chart User's GuideTo learn more about U.S. aviation charts, you can download the Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide from FAA AeroNav Products.

The guide (now in its 10th edition) covers VFR and IFR charts, including:

ASA publishes a reprint edition (ASA-CUG-11) of the guide.

You can also download IFR approach charts, airport diagrams, Airport/Facility information, SIDs, and STARs, and other information from the FAA AeroNav Products website.

The Air Safety Institute also offers many free publications (e.g., Safety Advisors and flash cards) and free online courses that can help you learn about charts and airspace.

Jeppesen Chart Clinic Series

If you prefer Jeppesen charts, you can learn all about them by downloading the free Chart Clinic Reprints available on the Jeppesen website. Jeppesen produced the Chart Clinics series that appeared in AOPA Pilot magazine from 1998 through 2001. Each two-page installment in the series includes a wealth of information about Jeppesen departure, en route, arrival, approach charts, plus detailed explanations of IFR procedures and terminology. These guides are available for free download in .pdf format from the Online Publications section of the Jeppesen website. Unfortunately, the Chart Clinic articles are organized by date of original publication, not by topic; but the following table points you to specific articles.

Jeppesen Chart Clinic Topics Date of Publication
Reporting points, navigation aids, intersections, etc. April 1998
Airspace July 1998
Airways, en route altitudes, etc. September 1998
Plotting airway and direct routes November 1998
More about minimum altitudes December 1998
Airway symbology January 1999
Understanding the title/index section of approach charts February 1999
The Briefing Strip March 1999
More about communications March 1999
The plan view June 1999
The segments of an approach July, August, September 1999
The profile view October 1999
Non-precision approaches November, December 1999
Minimums January, February 2000
More on minimums and missed approaches March 2000
Airport diagrams May 2000
Departure procedures June 2000
Arrival procedures July 2000

Note that some symbols and terminology used on Jeppesen charts—especially those related to GPS navigation and approaches—have changed since the Chart Clinic series was published. For the latest information, refer to current Jeppesen legends and glossaries or to the Jeppesen edition of the Instrument Procedures Guide (JS312407).

GPS and Avionics

Most manufacturers of GPS units and other avionics offer user manuals, PC-based simulators, training syllabi, and other resources via their websites. You needn’t be an owner of the equipment to download the information and resources. See, for example:

Garmin offers excellent general guides to the GPS system. Start with the About GPS page and then check out the GPS Guide for Beginners.

The Air Safety Institute offers many free interactive online courses and other resources about VFR and IFR operations with GPS; for example:

The Flight Review

Many pilots are confused about the Flight Review that is mandated every 24 calendar months. The basics of the rule (FAR 61.56) require most pilots to log one hour of ground instruction and one hour of flight instruction from a flight instructor, who must also specifically endorse the pilot's logbook to certify completion of the Flight Review.

You can find many helpful free resources on this topic at The Flight Review at the Air Safety Institute. The ASF Safety Advisor Pilot’s Guide to the Flight Review (pdf) is a excellent overview.

I also recommend the ASF Pilot’s Guide to Getting Back into Flying; it’s also free on the Web.

You can find many more excellent, free resources related to the flight review at www.FAASafety.gov. The Pilot Proficiency Program, also known as Wings, is an alternative way to meet the Flight Review requirement.

Instructors should visit Tools for Giving Better Flight Reviews, also at www.FAASafety.gov.

Learning to Fly

The following links take you to many resources that answer common questions about learning to fly and provide links to flight schools and additional information. Plotting Your Course, a free PDF brochure from ASA, answers many common questions.

Human Factors and Aviation Safety

Dale R. Wilson, Professor and Chair of the Aviation Department at Central Washington University, has published several papers and articles on such topics as night flying and VFR flight continued into IMC. You can find links to his publications on his faculty page on the CWU website.

Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft

To learn more about the new Sport Pilot license and Light Sport Aircraft, visit EAA’s Sport Pilot and AOPA’s Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft pages.

The Light Sport Aircraft Manufacturers Association is another good source of information, including lists of aircraft that qualify under the LSA regulations.

ByDanJohnson.com contains up-to-date pilot reports and news related to Light Sport Aircraft, including lists of and links to LSA manufacturers.

NASA Aerodynamics Resources

To learn more about aerodynamics and related topics, check out NASA’s Aerodynamics Index. The site is aimed at teachers, but it’s trove of useful information for CFIs, students, and pilots.

Aviation Education

If you’re a teacher or volunteer interested in teaching kids about aviation, start with the following links.

To learn more about general aviation (i.e., all flying except that conducted by the military and scheduled airlines), visit AOPA’s Communications Resources website. It includes information about all types of general aviation activities, GA security, airports, and the air transportation system.

Aviation Museums and Air Shows

Aircraft Photos

Aviation Organizations

Web-Based Services

Aerobatics

Aircraft Manufacturers

Propeller Manufacturers

Pilot Supplies and Products

PC-Based Flight Simulation

Aviation Forums and Bulletin Boards

Aviation Equations

Survival Information and Supplies

Air Safety Institute SafetyCasts

The Air Safety Institute offers free, on-demand videos of safety presentations via the Web (AOPA memberships is not required). These SafetyCasts feature such speakers as Rod Machado, and they cover a wide range of topics, from flying technique and FARs to GPS approaches and glass cockpits. To see the list of programs, visit the SafetyCasts home page.

More Reading

If you like to read books with an aviation theme, including biographies, memoirs, and general-interest titles, check out the books I’ve tagged with “aviation” in my LibraryThing library.

Voyager Flight Software System

My favorite flight-planning tool is Voyager from Seattle Avionics. It’s available in several versions, including a free edition, Voyager FreeFlight.

Voyager Logo