A wide world of apps compete for space on your smartphone or tablet—and now that you’re thinking about learning to fly, you have a few more to consider.
Primary among these are apps that host training programs, and these should be the first you look at because having a tool accessible on your phone whenever you have a few minutes to study can help ensure you do spend time learning to fly every day.
Learning styles determine what programs work best for you in training, and your instructor can help guide you to the training aids that will correspond to your syllabus and course outline. We’ve found that, over the years, the following companies have provided quality aviation training and now deliver that quality in mobile formats, so you can study wherever and whenever you have a few minutes to spare.
It’s not an exhaustive list, to be sure, but the apps in this roundup should get you started navigating the aviation training landscape.
King Schools offers access to its online courseware through its Companion app for iOS-compatible platforms. The app works for customers using the Cessna Sport/Private and Instrument courses as well, and you can download videos and answer those questions for the commercial, multiengine and flight-instructor courses. Those who use Android devices can view the courseware through a browser on the device.
Sporty’s Pilot Shop offers several apps for both iOS and Android devices that will keep you focused on training. Of particular use for students are the Learn To Fly and Instrument courses, accessible through the Sporty’s Pilot Training Online portal. Avionics courses might help you dive into the details on your training airplane’s equipment as well and get you back on track if you’ve had to lay off from flying for a while.
Aviation Supplies & Academics hosts a wide range of pilot training apps covering the gamut from test prep to the latest FAR/AIM. Geared toward those who want a comprehensive system, with digital and print versions of most titles, ASA is a great starting point to orient a budding pilot. With multiple ways to study the information, ASA products allow you to change your study method depending on where you are in your training—and where you need to physically access the material.
CloudAhoy’s newest version of its flight-tracking software offers the CFI Assistant feature that will score your maneuvers based on Airman Certification Standards. A free trial helps you determine if the system will be useful for you. You don’t need to use the app with your instructor to gain the benefit of scoring—make it a game, and you can use it to foster friendly competition between yourself and your friends in training with you.
Boldmethod specializes in shareable digital aviation content, with a sharp focus on flight training. The power behind its programs lies in their daily engagement, with quizzes, video stories and instructor tools to supplement your study plans. A series of apps features content from their online courses, covering VFR Publications, Aviation Weather and Airspace. Course progress uploads to the Boldmethod cloud for users of the program.
Gold Seal Online offers a comprehensive way to focus your studies on passing the private pilot tests, and it gives free access to instructors, so yours can track your progress. After you receive your certificate, the company provides a flight-review course—for when you need to renew your credentials every two years—and a means for you to get current again if you get “rusty.”
Once you have your certificate and you’re ready to use it, you can look into a broad selection of aviation apps to help keep you flying, such as flight-planning tools like ForeFlight and FlyQ and pilot-logbook apps including Smart Logbook. The Smart Logbook app automatically syncs your entries, preserving your flight time; the first 50 hours you log constitute a free trial, with in-app purchases to give you the features you need.
Pilot Workshops is one source to check out once you’ve earned your certificate—and even as you work through the final stages of your first ticket. Of particular interest are the company’s courses and tips on flying on instruments and using flight simulation at home to supplement your training and flight currency.
And who among us doesn’t like to pretend they’re flying when they’re stuck on the ground because of bad weather? While desktop flight simulators can be helpful—and fun—what if you’re not near your computer? In late 2019, Laminar Research, parent to the well-known X-Plane flight-simulator software, released a mobile version the company says can mimic nearly 80 percent of their desktop version.
The new X-Plane software is available for free from the Android and Apple app stores. The full-featured system comes with a Cessna 172 and Cirrus VisionJet installed as well as options to alter the local weather, time of day, and even the opportunity to fail a system or two.
The app gives you the flexibility to choose from any of 30,000 different airports around the world, 11,000 of which Laminar says come with rich, locally realistic scenery. For a $5.99 monthly fee, the app also offers pilots the chance to fly a variety of other airplanes, such as a Beech Baron or King Air, a Boeing 737, 747 or 777, and even a number of military fighters.
This story appeared in the Learn to Fly Special Issue of Flying Magazine