Best Aviation Books That Never Miss Their Slot

Navigating the Aviation Book Skies

Our choice of Best Aviation books for Professionals, Enthusiasts, and students.

First a caveat. This list assumes you are not in one of the main aerospace technical or operational fields within aviation. If you are a pilot, cabin crew, engineer, operations, ground personnel, or anyone else then these books still apply – but you may have covered these elements already elsewhere.

Finding the Right Aviation Books for You

Aviation Books - Ultimate Guide
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    The Aviation Book Ultimate List

    These books are for everyone. For those who work in aviation (or wish to) and those who want to know more about the day-to-day technical or operational aspects of aircraft but don’t know where to look. We have curated these books so you don’t have to. These are verified classics, approved University and College level text books as well as books that have inspired us. 

    History Of Aviation Books

    "Flight : The Complete History of Aviation" - R.G. Grant

    This groundbreaking book narrates humankind's remarkable journey from the early pioneers to the latest spaceflight technology, spanning a century of aviation achievements. It vividly portrays the feats of brave individuals who piloted early flying machines and jet age test pilots, offering a captivating narrative of aviation history and exploration of space.

    "Wings : A History of Aviation from Kites to the Space Age" - Tom D. Crouch

    The invention of the airplane marked the dawn of the modern age, unleashing global commerce, revolutionary technologies, and warfare on an unprecedented scale. Tom Crouch weaves a captivating narrative, portraying how flight's sheer exhilaration ignited the human imagination and initiated a journey to new worlds.

    "50 Aircraft that changed the World" - Ron Dick

    An aviation classic, this book retains its timeless content while adopting a more compact format. Covering the aviation journey from the 1905 Wright Flyer III to modern combat fighters with stealth technology, it encompasses the birth of aerial warfare, interwar trailblazers, iconic World War II aircraft, Korean and Vietnam War jets, contemporary commercial carriers, private jets, experimental designs, and more.

    A favorite book here at Wingtalkers. A book that spans so many generations of aircraft and flying. If you want one coffee table aviation book – this is it. 

    “Capturing the romance of flight along with successes, failures and many memorable figures from Lindbergh to Yeager, this is a book that soars.”

    “A close-up survey of 50 of arguably the most remarkable and influential aircraft in aviation history…. Beautifully presented… this book will grace the coffee table of any aviation aficionado.”
    -Airforce Magazine

    Aviation Books for Kids

    "The Little Airplane" by Lois Lenski

    For the Young Aviation Enthusiast : Follow the adventures of Redheaded Baby as he explores the world of aviation. This charming picture book introduces young readers to planes and their parts, sparking curiosity and imagination. A delightful read for budding aviators.

    "Aircraft: The Definitive Visual History" by DK

    Packed with vibrant illustrations and fascinating facts, this visually stunning book takes young readers on a captivating journey through potential in aviation. An educational and engaging introduction to aviation's evolution, perfect for curious young minds.

    "Airport" by Byron Barton

    Join a cast of colorful characters as they prepare for a flight at the bustling airport. With simple text and bold illustrations, this book provides an exciting glimpse into the world of aviation. It's an ideal art form choice to spark the imagination of young readers.

    For the Young Aviation Enthusiast : Tag along as Pilot Small takes his little red airplane up, up, up for a joyride! Newly simplified text, paired with Lois Lenski’s bright and charming art, makes an irresistible choice for youngsters already reaching for the sky!

    ” It is rare these days to find an aviation book of this size that is four-color throughout and with the quality of printing this work exhibits.” – American Aviation Historical Society Flightline Magazine

    “For young children, this may well be the definitive book on airports and on airplanes. Children will return to it again and again.”–” School Library Journal” A first-class trip all the way.”–” The New York Times”

    Aviation Books for Teens

    "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough

    McCullough's book unveils the tenacity and innovation of Orville and Wilbur Wright, pioneers who achieved powered flight. Their story inspires aviation enthusiasts with their groundbreaking achievements.

    "West with the Night" by Beryl Markham

    Beryl Markham's memoir chronicles her groundbreaking flights in 1930s Africa. It captures the thrill of aviation and the beauty of the African landscape, making it a timeless classic.

    "We" by Charles Lindbergh

    Lindbergh's poetic work reflects on aviation's wonder and the human spirit. He shares insights from his historic solo transatlantic flight, offering a unique perspective on aviation and life's interconnectedness.

    “A story of timeless importance, told with uncommon empathy and fluency. . . . A story, well told, about what might be the most astonishing feat mankind has ever accomplished. . . . The Wright Brothers soars.” — Daniel Okrent ― The New York Times Book Review

    West with the Night is the sort of book that makes you think human beings can do anything. This should have been enough to make anybody timid for life, but not Beryl . . . A jewel of taut writing and thrilling reading . . . The girl can write.” ― John Chamberlain, The New York Times

    WE is an autobiographical account by Charles A. Lindbergh about his life and the events leading up to and including his May 1927 New York to Paris solo trans-Atlantic flight in his monoplane Spirit of St. Louis.

    Airline Business Books

    NUTS! By Kevin and Jackie Freiberg

    Few people know that Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary was sent over to Herb Kelleher at Southwest by Tony Ryan so Mike could see what this low-cost shenanigans was all about. Southwest were already up there!.

    No Frills: The Truth Behind the Low Cost Revolution in the Skies

    Simon Calder's "No Frills" delves into the rise of Europe's low-cost airlines, such as easyJet, Ryanair, Go, and Buzz. This 'David and Goliath' story explores their innovative marketing, charismatic leaders, and passenger-friendly approach, making air travel affordable and accessible. Calder investigates their success, from ticketless booking to profitability, while addressing safety concerns, ultimately revealing a transformative era in aviation.

    "Hard Landing: The Epic Contest for Power and Profits That Plunged the Airlines into Chaos" by Thomas Petzinger Jr.

    This aviation book delves into the turbulent history of the airline industry, including the challenges, power struggles, and financial crises that have shaped the modern aviation landscape. It provides a comprehensive look at the business side of airlines and the factors that have influenced their success and struggles over the years.

    Aviation Books - Business

    “Full of original insights, upbeat stories, and concrete suggestions, Nuts! shows how the power of principle-centered leadership inspires people to achieve incredible results.”
    Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

    Discover the incredible rise of Europe’s low-cost airlines like easyJet, Ryanair, Go, and Buzz. With innovative marketing, charismatic leaders, and a ‘David and Goliath’ narrative, these airlines transformed air travel, offering affordability, choice, and safety, reshaping travel habits across the continent.”

    Mr. Petzinger’s fly-on-the-wall reporting is always engaging…. — The New York Times Book Review, Stephen D. Solomon

    Airport Books - Operations

    Airport Operations, Third Edition - Ashford, Coutu & Beasley

    Airport Operations, Third Edition" has been updated to align with the latest FAA, ICAO, and IATA standards. It presents effective strategies and best practices for optimizing airport functions, emphasizing global air transport privatization. New chapters cover safety management systems and airport operations control centers. The book also explores current trends such as security, environmental impact control, and emerging technologies.

    Airline Operations - Bruce, Gao & King

    Airline Operations: A Practical Guide" offers a holistic view of airline operations, encompassing regulations, planning, and the dynamic nature of daily airline activities. It discusses regulatory foundations, operational environments, daily activities, and strategies to address disruptions. The book anticipates future trends in airline operations. It's a valuable resource for industry professionals and academic readers, offering insightful discussions on essential airline functions.

    Managing Airports - Anne Graham

    The sixth edition of Managing Airports: An International Perspective has been meticulously updated to reflect recent industry developments. With a strategic and commercial focus, it offers a comprehensive view of airport management. Featuring global case studies and a balanced approach between principles and practice, this edition remains relevant and insightful."


    This aviation book, authored by international industry experts, offers a comprehensive view of airline operations. It covers the regulatory framework, operational environment, daily activities, problem mitigation, and future trends, providing a holistic perspective on the dynamic aviation industry.

    Anne Graham, a Professor at the University of Westminster, specializes in airport management, economics, regulation, and marketing, with 40 years of experience in teaching, research, and consultancy. She has authored numerous books and served as an editor-in-chief for the Journal of Air Transport Management.

    Aviation Books - Engineering

    Jet Man – The Making and Breaking of Frank Whittle by Duncan Campbell-smith.

    Frank Whittle invented the jet engine and thus started modern commercial aviation. This is not only a terrific book on the engine but a cracking yarn about adversity and his cruel treatment at the time. All engine aerodynamic theory originated here.

    Airworthiness: An Introduction to Aircraft certification by Filippo De Florio.

    Aircraft systems are large, complex machines that require type and airworthiness certification. If that doesn’t strike fear into your heart, then this book will reward you in spades. Read this and you can walk through the halls of the Royal Society of Engineers with your head held high.

    Aviation Maintenance Management

    Dream of being a commercial pilot who returns home safely after every flight? In '101 Lessons From The Sky,' aviation professionals share invaluable insights. This captivating collection of 101 true stories provides a unique perspective on aviation safety, offering lessons learned from real-life experiences. Explore airline veterans' resilience, practical takeaways for safer flights.

    ‘[A] thorough dissection of the evolution of the jet engine… I recommend this mighty tome unreservedly’ Journal of Aeronautical History

    Airworthiness remains a valuable reference for certification engineers. Updated for EASA-FAA regulations, it covers flight safety, airworthiness concepts, ICAO, and more. 

    Aviation Maintenance Management has been updated for industry changes and FAA regulations. This comprehensive guide, co-written by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University instructors, covers aircraft maintenance, safety, and program development.

    Female Aviator Memoirs

    Fly Girls - Keith O'Brien

    Fly Girls chronicles the daring women who defied prejudice in the perilous world of airplane racing between the world wars. Florence Klingensmith, Ruth Elder, Amelia Earhart, Ruth Nichols, and Louise Thaden challenged societal norms to race and triumph, breaking barriers in aviation history

    High, Wide and Frightened - Louise Thaden

    High, Wide and Frightened," originally published in 1938 by pioneering aviator Louise Thaden, recounts her early flying adventures and achievements. This edition includes the previously omitted chapter "Noble Experiment" on women in combat and her friendship with Amelia Earhart, adding depth to her remarkable story.

    Amelia Earhart, A Biography - Doris L Rich

    Amelia Earhart's life, cut short mysteriously before age forty, witnessed a meteoric rise from obscurity to global fame as an aviator. Doris L. Rich's meticulously researched biography unveils the woman beyond the "What Happened to Amelia Earhart?" enigma.

    “Mr. O’Brien, a former reporter for the Boston Globe working in the tradition of ‘Hidden Figures’ and ‘The Girls of Atomic City,’ has recovered a fascinating chapter not just in feminism and aviation but in 20th-century American history.” — Wall Street Journal

    “Although other women pilots of her era―like Amelia Earhart and Jacqueline Cochran―are better known, it was Louise who, in her own quiet way, was blazing a trail for others to follow. Claudia Oakes, former curator, Aeronautics Department, National Air and Space Museum

    “Ms. Rich vividly evokes the tragic aspect of Amelia Earhart.”—New York Times Book Review, Notable Book

    Aviation Books for Aspiring Pilots

    Stick and Rudder - An Explanation of the Art of Flying

    Stick and Rudder" is the enduring classic in aviation literature, offering an in-depth analysis of flying. It unravels the essence of piloting, applicable across aircraft types and skill levels. Initially controversial, its principles have now become widely accepted, making it a timeless and invaluable resource for pilots and instructors alike

    The Next Hour - The Most important hour in your Logbook

    "Pilots Don't Crash Airplanes Because They Want To," Collins emphasizes that even experienced pilots can make mistakes, but understanding and managing flight risks is key to safety. Sharing personal insights from his aviation career, he covers emergency checklists, pilot mindset, night flying challenges, accident records, and cockpit technology management.

    101 Lessons From The Sky: Commercial Aviation

    Gain insights from resilient airline veterans who overcame adversity. Explore 101 captivating global stories, revealing challenges in Commercial Aviation and the pilots' unwavering spirit. Learn valuable lessons from unfortunate incidents, including practical takeaways for safety, focus, load planning, and fatigue management.

    STICK AND RUDDER” pioneers the precise analysis of flying, a timeless guide continuously in print for 33 years. It demystifies flight intricacies for learners and instructors alike, offering enduring principles applicable across aircraft types. 

     Collins’ personal decision to stop flying as pilot in command, the nuances of night flying, accident records for specific airplane types, and prudent cockpit technology management.

    Unlock the Secrets of Safe Skies: Learn from the Experiences of Seasoned Commercial Pilots! In ‘101 Lessons From The Sky,’ seasoned aviation professionals share invaluable wisdom. 

    Well, if that’s you, then you’ve come to the right page. And as a bonus, I am adding two books at the end which are non-Aviation related but are two particularly important books to us here at WT towers. Of all the books we have come across in our careers (so far), these two have delivered the most results for us on a personal level.

    Bonus Books

    And here are the bonus books – James Clear’s Atomic Habits and Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. We don’t promote self-help books on this site. But these two books were the best help to us in how we manage our time and resources. Enjoy. 

    WingTalkers Journalism is supported by our readers. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. 

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