The first volume in this five-volume series of books covering the entire PPL course appeared in 1994 and immediately found a ready customer base of student pilots looking for a fresh and lively approach to the task of teaching men and women to fly.
THE FIRST VOLUME in this five-volume series of books covering the entire PPL course appeared in 1994 and immediately found a ready customer base of student pilots looking for a fresh and lively approach to the task of teaching men and women to fly. Now that this final volume has appeared (covering Human Factors in one section and Flight Safety in another) it is good to see that Jeremy M Pratt, the author, and his technical advisors, Bill Stitt, Philip Matthews, John Thorpe and David Hockings, have managed to maintain the excellent standard set by the previous volumes.
Considering the thousands of hours of flight instruction and the many years of aviation experience that the five have amassed between them, the high quality of the instructional material here is not all that surprising. The initial impression the reader gets on flicking through the pages of this book is that it makes the subjects look positively interesting. There is an attractive page layout, and good clear diagrams, sharp and apposite photographs help to explain the text. Occasional cartoons leaven the mixture, and each section concludes with a series of questions designed to probe the reader’s success in reading, learning and digesting the information given.
It is easy to write flying training text in a turgid and boring manner; not so easy to make it as readable as has been done here. However, in places the light-hearted approach used does tend to become a little irksome–rather too flippant, perhaps. (‘Flying is not dangerous; crashing is!’ Or ‘experience is the knowledge that enables you to recognise a mistake when you make it again’.) But overall, the easy flow of the text does keep the reader interested, anticipating the next quip or cartoon, perhaps, but all the time letting the essential knowledge sink into the grey matter. And that is just what the groundschool part of flying training is all about, after all.
In this book too, the authors go well beyond the basics that students need to know in order to pass their JAA-PPL examinations. There is a great deal of useful additional advice and information here also for pilots who gained their PPL long ago. The ‘Safety and Survival Equipment’ section should be mandatory reading for all pilots. I especially approve of the paragraphs concerning the ‘airliner-type’ of life-jackets which too many light aircraft pilots still persist in using, under the misconception that they will help keep them afloat after a ditching.
The section on Health and Flying is another that puts over its messages very forcefully, and could well be a useful read for the many PPL holders who gained their licence long before Human Factors became a part of the PPL course.
All in all, I feel just a little jealous of today’s students setting out to qualify for a PPL, in having available to them all five volumes of this AFE Private Pilot’s Licence Course. These new textbooks are a great deal easier and more fun to use than the boring old standard works that were the ‘bibles’ for students when I was learning to fly.