AIRMET chart
Example AIRMET chart from

All pilots should be very familiar with the meaning of AIRMET and SIGMET – they both represent warnings of conditions which could threaten the safety of flight. Find out what they mean and why it is important to understand them in this quick introductory guide.

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Understanding the Minimum Equipment List (MEL)

Minimum Equipment List
Excerpt from a MEL

The Minimum Equipment List, or MEL, is often a confusing concept for student pilots. As well as having a misleading name, many student pilots do not encounter the MEL in real life as more often than not trainer aircraft do not have them. However, understanding the MEL and how it features in the regulations is essential learning for those working towards their pilot certificate.

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Review: The Private Pilot Oral Exam Guide (Book)

Private Pilot Oral Exam GuideUpdated to reflect vital FAA regulatory, procedural, and training changes, this indispensable tool prepares private pilots for the “checkride” with an FAA examiner. The Private Pilot Oral Exam Guide (Michael D. Hayes) answers the most common questions asked by examiners, clarifies the requirements of the written and oral portions, and presents practice questions from the exam with a reference to the specific information source from where the answer may be derived. An appendix with a “Practical Test Checklist” is included. The main body of questions is written in a Q & A format, with the questions that checkride examiners are most likely to ask along with comprehensive, easy-to-remember responses. This guide teaches not only what to expect on the private pilot oral exam, but also how to exhibit subject mastery and confidence while under the examiner’s scrutiny.

I purchased this book early on in my private pilot training, and I suggest you do the same. To start with, I did not know how to answer many of the questions, but as I gained experience I was able to measure my progress by testing my knowledge against the questions posed in this book.

It is easy to convince yourself that you understand the subject matter required by the ACS. However, the devil is in the detail, and this book helps you uncover your weak spots by presenting you with questions, not answers (the answers are included, but it goes without saying that you should attempt to answer the questions yourself, first!). This is an important tool to help you focus on the material you don’t know as well as you should, especially as you get towards your checkride. It provides excellent value for money.


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Episode 3 – Ground school – the ACS and FAR/AIM

plane spokenEpisode 3 is here! This week, we go over the basics of ground school, and I give you three essential book recommendations to form the ‘core’ of your studies. I have the best flight lesson of my life (night training), and we explore the ACS – the syllabus of all Private Pilot checkrides – so you know what to expect.  Continue reading “Episode 3 – Ground school – the ACS and FAR/AIM”

Review: The Complete Private Pilot (Book)

The Complete Private Pilot (Bob Gardner) is the book I used to prepare me for my flight lessons, knowledge test, and oral portion of the checkride. It is an accessible book which walks you through each of the major learning topics you need, taking you by the hand and leading you from zero knowledge to an excellent, rounded understanding of the basics in twelve easy-to-digest chapters. Read on to find out why I recommend this book, even if you haven’t yet decided that learning to fly is right for you.  Continue reading “Review: The Complete Private Pilot (Book)”

Aircraft stalls – do you really understand them?

airflow around stalled airfoil
Credit: Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), resized

Aircraft stalls are one of the most misunderstood phenomena of aerodynamics amongst student pilots. In fact, even qualified pilots often struggle to truly understand the aerodynamic stall. Read on to dispel the myths and gain a solid understanding of this important concept. Continue reading “Aircraft stalls – do you really understand them?”