Top 10 apps for student pilots

iPad in hand

The iPad is a great tool for pilots of all skill levels, from airline captains to student pilots. In addition to displaying digital charts and navigation data in the cockpit, the iPad is also very good for both organization and as a training resource on the ground. Student pilots can take advantage of all these benefits and use the iPad to save time and money during flight training with great apps available from the app store. Here are our top ten favorites:

10. Airplane Flying Handbook 

Pilots have been using this official FAA source for aviation learning for over 30 years, and now it’s available as an app for iPhone & iPad. It includes a table of contents for quick access to each section, and explains the most common flight maneuvers, practices and principles used in modern aviation today.

The Airplane Flying Handbook app is available for $1.99 in the App Store.

9. LogTen Pro

Whether you’re learning to fly or fly professionally, LogTen Pro has the features you need to stay organized and legal. The LogTen Pro app makes logging time a breeze since it always travels with you on your iPhone or iPad. It even has a feature to allow your instructor to sign each flight with the touch interface.

The LogTen Pro is available for $79.99 in the App Store. (Read our full review of the app here)

8. Aviation Weight & Balance Calculator

This easy-to-use app makes it simple to do a weight and balance before every flight—no more pen and paper! Designed by pilots for pilots, it includes plenty of time-saving features and graphical representations of CG loading. The Aviation Weight & Balance Calculator allows you to build your own unique airplane or use a pre-loaded template.

Aviation Weight & Balance Calculator is available for $9.99 in the App Store.

7. LiveATC Air Radio

One of the best ways to learn ATC communication is to spend some time at a towered airport with a handheld radio and listen to the ATC/pilot interactions from the ground. This app allows you to do just that, but from anywhere you have an internet connection. LiveATC provides over 550 live audio feeds from all over the world of towered airport, approach and ARTCC frequencies.

LiveATC Air Radio is available for $2.99 in the App Store. (NOTE: this is an iPhone app, so you’ll have to scale it up to fit full screen on iPad)

6. FAR/AIM

Every student pilot should carry a copy of the FAR/AIM with them, and the iPad app version makes it easier than ever. The FAR/AIM app from ASA includes all the applicable federal aviation regulations, the complete Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), Pilot/Controller Glossary and more. Use the table of contents to go to a specific section, or use the search feature to quickly find what you’re looking for.

FAR/AIM is available for $9.99 in the App Store.

5. MyRadar

While ForeFlight does a great job providing official weather briefings and displaying all the necessary weather reports (see below), the MyRadar app really excels as supplemental weather tool, providing fast-loading, accurate and detailed looping radar picture. When analyzing precipitation and thunderstorm development, this is the app to use to help with your go/no-go decision.

MyRadar is available for for free in the App Store.

4. E6B Flight Computer

The E6B app from Sporty’s represents the next generation of flight computer, with its roots dating back to the mechanical version designed for military pilots in the 1930s. The powerful iPhone/iPad app expands on all the features of the traditional E6B, including 23 aviation functions, 20 conversions and complete timer features.

Sporty’s E6B flight computer is available for $9.99 in the App Store.

3. X-Plane Flight Simulator for iPad

Ok, so this one might not help you pass your written test or solve a weight and balance problem, but it sure is a lot of fun! The simulation and aerodynamics are very realistic, allowing you to practice your maneuvers in the C172 or Piper Cub. On a rainy day though we think the best way to use this app is by flying the F-22 fighter jet through the mountains of Austria.

X-Plane for iPad is available for $9.99 in the App Store.

2. ForeFlight Mobile

ForeFlight Mobile provides many of the essentials a student pilot needs, neatly organized in one user-friendly app. It includes VFR flight plan filing and weather briefings, digital sectionals & airport/facility directory, in-flight navigation when used with a GPS, in-flight weather (from Stratus ADS-B or XM), and more. Instrument student pilots will also appreciate the included IFR en route and approach charts. While we don’t recommend student pilots forget about paper sectionals altogether, ForeFlight serves as a reference for all your aviation data needs.

ForeFlight Mobile comes with a 30 day free trial, and then requires a $74.99 annual subscription (includes all VFR/IFR charts and updates for the U.S.). Read more about ForeFlight’s newest features here.

1. Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course

For the cost of a single flight lesson, Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course app will save you hours of time in the air and hundreds of dollars. Includes over 20 hours of award-winning video instruction, separated into 3 training modules for Private Pilot, Sport Pilot or Recreational Pilot instruction. The written test prep section allows quick study of all the FAA questions separated by category, and provides a test mode to take sample tests before going for the real thing. The course even provides a written test endorsement after completing the video and test prep sections.

Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course is available as a free download with demos of each section, and you can then purchase the full course from within the app for $249.99 (includes complete Private, Sport and Recreational modules). Read the full review of the app here.

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Bret is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s professional pilot program, and has been a flight instructor for over 10 years. During his time as a check airman for Sporty’s Academy, he has earned FAA Gold Seal and NAFI Master Instructor accreditations. Bret specializes in advanced avionics training, and especially enjoys working with students learning glass cockpit systems, WAAS GPS units, and iPad and Android tablets in the cockpit. He currently flies both professionally and for fun in a variety of aircraft, from Cessna Skycatchers to a Cessna Citation. Bret is also a Vice President at Sporty’s Academy, where he develops innovative new aviation training products in video, online and mobile app formats.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I live in Knoxville Tennessee and have always wanted to learn to fly ever since I can remember. I’m now 57 years old and not only can I afford to take lessons, but I travel all over The United States to see our great Country. Driving is becoming exhausting very quickly, and time is becoming short!

  2. Walter, I’m 65 yrs. old. I too wants to learn to fly for years. I started take flying lesson and 1/2 way through I bought a plane and a hanger. I’ve had my license for a year now. My wife and I love it ! Don’t wait….. you can fly anywhere in 1/2 the time depending on the type of plane. Look up fun places to fly. Happy Happy Happy !

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