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.
You can read this article for more tips on integrating a tablet into flight training in a safe way. For now, here are our top ten favorite apps for student pilots:
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 and 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. AOPA Flight Training Magazine
This magazine is essential reading for student pilots, with practical tips and news for anyone learning to fly. The AOPA Mags app is an easy way to keep up with the latest issue or read back issues, and also includes a quick link to AOPA Live, a weekly video show.
AOPA Mags is available free in the App Store (AOPA membership required to unlock content).
This powerful app makes it easy to record and debrief your flight lessons, complete with chart overlays, altitude graphs and automatic maneuver detection. Want to see how your S-turns across a road look? CloudAhoy will show you. Use the free app to record your flight, or upload track logs from ForeFlight. To learn more about CloudAhoy, check out this article.
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 1,000 live audio feeds from all over the world of towered airport, approach and ARTCC frequencies.
LiveATC Air Radio is available for $3.99 in the App Store.
Every student pilot should carry a copy of the FAR/AIM with them, and this iPad app version makes it easier than ever. It 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.
While the big Electronic Flight bag apps do 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 pictures. 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. It’s a great way to calculate groundspeed, density altitude and many other crucial numbers. This app works on iPad and iPhone, and also has a full-featured Apple Watch version.
Sporty’s E6B flight computer is available for $9.99 in the App Store.
3. X-Plane 10 Flight Simulator
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 10 for iPad is available for free in the App Store (additional airplanes are $0.99 to $4.99).
2. ForeFlight/Garmin Pilot/WingX
A good Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) app is just about essential for a student pilot. These all-in-one planning and navigation apps can do an amazing number of tasks, from weather briefings to moving maps. There are more options than ever, but ForeFlight, Garmin Pilot and WingX are the most popular options, with ForeFlight firmly established at #1. 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 SiriusXM), and more. Instrument student pilots will also appreciate the included IFR en route and approach charts. There are even options now for a digital logbook and weight and balance calculations. While we don’t recommend student pilots forget about paper sectionals altogether, ForeFlight serves as a reference for all your aviation data needs. Read more about ForeFlight’s newest features here.
ForeFlight Mobile is $99.99 per year for the Basic Plus subscription, or $199.99 per year for the Pro Plus subscription (includes all VFR/IFR charts and updates for the U.S.).
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 $199.99 (includes complete Private, Sport and Recreational modules).