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.
Check out this video 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. Stratus Insight
Appareo relaunched this app in 2020 with a host of flight planning and weather tools, but the most useful feature for student pilots is the speech-to-text option for radio communications. With an adapter cable to connect your iPad to the intercom, the app will record and translate everything that comes over the radio—ideal for learning how to interpret ATC’s instructions.
Stratus Insight is available free in the App Store; a subscription costs $99.99/year.
This all-in-one app from aviation’s largest pilot organization includes dozens of features, from articles to planning tools. But the Pilot Passport feature is particularly interesting for pilots. It offers a wide variety of events and activities, offering inspiration for your next flight, and helps you keep track of where you’ve been. You can use the badge system to set goals and celebrate new achievements.
AOPA is available free in the App Store (AOPA membership required for some features).
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.
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.
5. Plane English
This interactive radio simulator walks students through a variety of scenarios, from the basics of the phonetic alphabet to complicated taxi routes at busy airports. Follow the prompts and talk right to your phone or iPad. The app uses voice recognition and speech analysis to offer instantaneous feedback, so you know what needs work.
PlaneEnglish is available for free in the App Store; a six month subscription costs $39.99.
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.
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 Cessna 172 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/FltPlan Go/FlyQ
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 many apps to choose from, but ForeFlight, Garmin Pilot, FltPlan Go and FlyQ are the most popular options, with ForeFlight firmly established at #1.
It includes VFR flight plan filing and weather briefings, digital sectionals and airport/facility directory, in-flight navigation when used with a GPS, in-flight weather (from ADS-B or SiriusXM receivers), and more. Instrument student pilots will also appreciate the included IFR en route and approach charts. There are even options for a checklist, 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.
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 and Pilot Training app
Sporty’s Pilot Training app includes a wealth of training resources for student pilots all in one convenient app. The featured course in the app is Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course, which offers over 20 hours of engaging HD video training, written test prep, and maneuvers training. Upon successful completion, the course also provides pilots with an endorsement take the official FAA knowledge test. It also offers lots of free resources for student pilots, like digital FAA handbooks, a flight school finder, videos on how to start your flight training and a complete syllabus.
Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course is available to test drive in the app for free, and you can then purchase the full course from within the app for $249.99 (includes complete Private, Sport and Recreational modules).
The Pilot Training app offers access to over 25 aviation courses, including Sporty’s Instrument Rating Course, Aviation Weather, Flying with ForeFlight, Flight Review, Garmin G1000 and avionics training, VFR and IFR Communications, and transition courses for helicopters, seaplanes, gliders and multiengine airplanes. The Pilot Training app is also available for Android, AppleTV and RokuTV.