The sense of accomplishment that comes from becoming a licensed pilot is not easily duplicated. Any pilot knows that the joy and satisfaction of flying can be life-changing, but unfortunately, the majority of students who start training don’t finish. According to the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), the overall dropout rate for student pilots is nearly 80%.
While several factors contribute to this high dropout rate, one of the primary reasons is relatively easy to understand—becoming a pilot is hard work! For the 20%+ that reach their dream of flying, instructors note that these students come ready to fly and do extra work in between flight lessons to adequately prepare themselves.
There’s no replacement for quality learning from a professional flight school, but there are great resources out there that can supplement your training. The even better news—many of them are free! Whether you’re a beginner just starting out or an experienced pilot looking to earn a new certificate or rating, here are five key flight training sources that will help you take to the skies with more confidence:
AOPA safety videos and articles
The AOPA offers a robust collection of online learning tools for student pilots, including online courses, videos, podcasts, and quizzes. The materials also include the Air Safety Institute’s library of critical safety issues like air masses and fronts, emergency procedures, and collision avoidance. You don’t have to be an AOPA member to access many of the materials, although some are exclusive to members.
Private Pilot Test Prep App
Of course, there’s an app for that! Actually, there are a lot of apps for flight training, ranging in price. The FAA’s Private Pilot Test Prep app touts that it offers the actual, up-to-date FAA questions that you’ll see on your FAA Private Pilot and/or Recreational Pilot knowledge written test. This app starts at $49.00, but there are other apps for under $20. Check with your flight instructor for recommendations.
These free manuals from the FAA provide basic knowledge that’s essential for beginner pilots. The Airplane Flying Handbook introduces future pilots to procedures and maneuvers required for pilot certification. The second manual contains the comprehensive range of information pilots need to learn as they move forward with obtaining their certifications.
Pilots of all experience levels can get near-real life practice using a flight simulator, whether it’s a full-motion sim at a local flight school or an at-home desktop simulator. There are even flight simulator apps available, although these are often just for fun. We encourage you to check out our friends at Redbird Flight Simulations, who are on the cutting-edge of realistic, scenario-based flight simulation technology. Find a Redbird simulator near you here.
LiveATC provides Air Traffic Control (ATC) radio traffic from around the world. Listen in to get a feel for the radio communications between air traffic controllers and pilots. It’s followed by anybody who enjoys hearing ATC, including aviation enthusiasts and student pilots learning the basics of radio communications. LiveATC is available for free online, or you can download the app for less than $5.
Take control of your flying future and study!
Many student pilots are unaware of training resources that are available to them, often at little to no cost. Consulting resources beyond those associated with your direct curriculum and flight lessons will enhance your learning and set you up for long-term success. Moreover, even experienced pilots can take advantage of these resources to refine their skills and promote proficiency.