Aviation books that will make you a better pilot

I used to read a lot when I was a kid, but that lessened during my busier adult life. But as I’ve had a lot of time on my hands recently it’s actually been aviation that has got me back into loving reading again. So I’ve compiled a list of the aviation books I’ve read in the past which have had a sizeable and positive influence on me as a pilot.

I’ve included links to purchase these books through my Amazon store as well, note that I do earn a little commission from these links if you decide to buy there. But if you can find them cheaper somewhere else definitely do that.

In no particular order…

The Mighty 747- Jim Eames

This is an in-depth but very easy to read story of the aircraft that in my opinion changed aviation more than any other. It covers how the 747 was developed by Boeing, some of the crazy but fascinating ways they tested it before release, and how Qantas pioneered International travel using variants of this mighty aircraft.

I found the chapters on the 747SP particular interesting, I learned a lot about that variant by reading this book.

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Hudson Fysh – Grantlee Kieza

I knew a little about Hudson Fysh, but there is so much more to him than just being one of the Founders of Qantas that I knew nothing about until I read this. He had a really interesting life from serving in Gallipoli and learning to fly in World War 1, to surveying Outback Australia with Paul McGinness, setting up air-routes that we use to this day, and growing Qantas to be the airline everyone associates Australia with to this day.

I honestly couldn’t put this one down when I was reading it. A meticulously researched and well told story of someone who we should all be thankful to every time we step on a flight, especially if it has a Kangaroo on its tail.

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Flight Into Fear – Duncan Kyle

This book plays a big part in how I got interested in flying in the first place. I read it over and over and over again when I was a teenage kid. It’s a fictional story of a flight that took place in a Cessna Skymaster, a push-pull twin engine aircraft with its engines lined up one in front and one behind the cockpit.

Aviation and a mystery all wrapped into one, lots of flying over the North Atlantic and a gripping storyline to boot.

This book has a special place in my heart and even though it’s a work of fiction, I remember the flying sequences to be very well told and incredibly engaging. A great holiday book if you’re travelling anywhere soon.

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Weather Flying – Robert Buck

My Instrument Rating instructor recommended I read this one, and if you ever plan to fly IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) or just want to improve your awareness and understanding of meteorology then this is a great book to read.

There are a few editions of this book, the one I’d recommend is the 5th edition pictured here as it’s been updated with more modern resources.

A really good reference book to pick up periodically, and written in a non-scientific way that makes understanding weather patterns and behaviour a lot easier.

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Anzac & Aviator – Michael Molkentin

Sir Ross Smith was one of four aviators who took on the challenge of flying from London to Sydney in The Great Air Race of 1919. Along with his brother Keith, Wally Shiers and Jim Bennett they paved the way for International air travel but Ross Smith’s life was fascinating beyond just that great achievement.

A World War 1 pilot like Hudson Fysh of Qantas, Ross’ life is really well told in this book which I found really interesting. I was proud to fly in his wake as part of my Wrigley Murphy recreation back in 2019 so this is a book I’d definitely recommend if you’re keen to learn more about Australian aviation history, and the incredibly brave and adventurous people who made what we do today possible.

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Voyage Of The Southern Sun – Michael Smith

No book list would be complete without the incredible story of my friend Michael who flew a single-engine SeaRay amphibious aircraft around the world. It earned him Australian Geographic’s “Adventurer of the Year” and left him with a captivating story told in this book.

Anyone who has ever dreamed of flying themselves around the world must read this. But even if that’s not on your bucket list this is a fun but sometimes nail-biting story of Michael’s trip.

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Happy reading,


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