PPL(H) – All Books

PPL(H) – All Books

These books cover everything to complete the PPL(H); all exams & information for all flights. Sometimes they cover even more than really needed for PPL(H) exams. I found all of them really well-written, more or less easy to understand and straight forward for a total beginner. This is with the exception of Air Law, I’ve read thousands of pages about law over the last 20 years.

In addition, I used YouTube to better understand technical processes such as carburetor heater, oil hydraulic systems and even flying exercises – e.g. Quick Stops etc. And Wikipedia as a reference to look up technical terms.

But, as mentioned, I enjoyed the privilege of very detailed, one-to-one & intense briefings during ground school from my brilliant and passionate instructor. Accompanying me on every single flight, even on rainy days. Such a great added value to the intense and individual one-to-one briefings at Phoenix Helicopter Academy.

Also, before every written exam I was again really lucky and got the chance to attempt an additional one-to-one brush-up course. Again, lots of additional information and hints on how the exams approach the subject.

General PPL Aviation Books – Pooley’s Air Pilots Manual


The Series of Pooley’s Pilots Manuals are the most common books to study PPL in the UK. They have been updated and republished for decades and are primarily designed for future fixed-wing pilots. But these topics are the same for helicopter pilots.

In addition to every book there is a special question & answer book to prepare for exams. I did not read them as I went for the offer of brush-up courses from the academy – but according to other students they shall be really good & helpful.

Air Law & Meteorology

These two topics have nothing in common and I still don’t understand why they are packed into one book really. But it makes sense to study Meteorolgy at an early stage as it is a crucial part of any kind of aviation. And it’s not just two completely different topics in one book – it is also the best and the worst book of the series compiled in one.

Air Law – Operation & Procedures

Personally, I found the the part about Air Law really long-winded, especially the complicated writing. It covers many details that are not asked in the exams and are not very interesting. The exam is actually way easier than I assumed during reading this book. In retrospect, I think for this topic I should have used the mentioned question and answer books.

Unfortunately, it is most likely the first book you will study. It is mandatory to pass this exam before the first solo flight. But, don’t get discouraged by this, the exam is really not that hard and is quite straightforward. It’s the same for the Operation and Procedures exam which is basically covered in that same book.


This is a really good book. Very clear, straight to the point and has very helpful graphics. It is actually not just only a very important issue for future pilots but also quite a thorough topic.

It’s years back, but I had once passed a basics meterology exam for my paragliding test and I still found it a challenge to properly understand the coherences covered in this book.

In addition to the book, Wikipedia  is a really good reference with helpful explanations and graphics. For example, explanations about clouds and this visual overview to the different types of clouds . That said, it is more of a hobby for me than serious studying. I collected lots pictures about amazing weather phenomens on Pinterest.

Air Navigation

This is definitely the longest book and a very important one, also, it is not as boring as I first assumed. I cannot stress enough that you can’t start reading it early enough in order to start practicing navigation planning. Navigating is one of the most important parts of flying and all starts in this book. It covers many different aspects of navigation and is again really well-written, straightforward and interesting. 

Human Factors & Human Performance

This is a very basic, short book and easy to understand. Depending on your general knowledge about biology etc. it is more or less a repetition of different issues you have heard of before for sure. There is no special timing to read it and it can be squeezed in somewhere between other topics at some point. Also, it is probably the easiest exam.


This is again a really good, well-written and easy to understand book. It’s not a pure theory book, but more a practical guide. It starts with a few general explanations and moves straight over to practical examples. It covers many different scenarios you will face in reality in form of play-like conversations which is really helpful.

I must admit I started to read Radiotelephony really late on. Actually, only shortly before the written and practical exams – way after completing almost all navigation flights. Up to here we had trained on all radio talks during ground school and flying. That said, reading this book was more a repetition for me. But for this task it was a brilliant book to finally bury my initial Black Box Experience .

Helicopter specific Books


Principles of Flight and Helicopter Handling

Now we come to the book that makes the huge difference between fixed-wings and helicopters. Fixed-wings have some wings and fly, more or less. Not so for helicopters. Just to clarify, I really like fixed-wings too. But, from the point of view of physics, aerodynamics and engineering, helicopters are definitely the next level.

Helicopters are more demanding to understand in many respects and feel completely illogical in the beginning. Actually, the more I started to get into it and understand how helicopter aerodynimcs work, the more I wondered how they worked in reality. They are a bit of a wonder of the world and can perform such incredbile and cool manoeuvres.

Just magical birds.

There are many different books about principles of flight, or just helicopter aerodynamics, on very different levels. But this one was considered to be the perfect balance of good enough for PPL(H) and not too complicated. I really liked the way it is built up and goes from one logical step to the next. Actually, I never got completely confused but I sometimes had to stop reading to let it sink in before continuing to the next step.

The book covers the questions for the PPL(H) Exam with ease. You know more than necessary when you really understand this book. And you do not have to calculate anything, just understand what effects influence each other and in what way.

Powerplants, Instruments & Hydraulics

This book covers all topics for the exam called “Aircraft – General Knowledge & Performance”. Piston engines & turbines, flight & navigation instruments, electric systems & hydraulics and of course all major mechanical parts of the inner workings of the helicopter and how the different parts are connected to each other.

It is the same as the book about Aerodynamics. It is written very clearly, comes with good images and is easy to understand. For me, this was the topic I had the least knowledge about but I could still understand it quickly. And, it’s when I finally started to really understand what we are actually checking on the daily A-Check.

Introduction Beginner Book & “unofficial” R22 Handbook


These two books are not really part of what is absolutely needed, but I liked both of them.

Learning to Fly Helicopter

This was my first ever helicopter book. I bought it shortly before the training started, just to have something, and I really liked it. You might have noticed I mentioned it right at the beginning when talking about Helicopter Myths.

Robinson R22 by John Swan

Finally, this was the last book I read during PPL(H). It’s very handy. A short overview and good repetition about all the essentials of the R22. It makes absolute sense to read it. At this stage, you love this machine so much and have so many unforgettable experiences, it does not feel like a “boring” handbook but more of an interesting round-up.

Basically, there is an individual & specific “Pilot‘s Operating Handbook , so-called POH, for every helicopter at the Academy anyway. The offical POH can also be found online on the website of Robinson.


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PPL(H) – Common Myths

PPL(H) – Common Myths

Book Advice for Pilots starting “From_Zero”

After my trial lesson, I could not wait to start my training and googled to find some former students telling stories about their training. I did not find a lot, that was one of the reasons I started this website.

Instead, I found this book on Amazon – it is not part of the ground school or exam books in my training but it gave me some general ideas on how to approach things during the first few weeks.

The author is a former, obviously experienced US Air Force and North Sea offshore helicopter pilot, who received his primary helicopter training at the US Army’s flight schools in Texas and Alabama.

Perfect for a beginner “From_Zero” like me. I found it really helpful and it alleviated some of the concerns that I had in my mind. And, most importantly, I found it very easy to read  & understand – more like a novel for non-pilots.

I would recommend the book to give yourself an idea of what to expect before starting and/or during the first few weeks of training.


Learning to Fly Helicopters – by R.Randall Padfield  / 2nd Edition

It starts with the chapter “Helicopter Myths”

Myth #1 – If a helicopter engine stops, you fall from sky like a brick

Myth #2 – A helicopter needs two engines, one for the big and one for the small propeller

Myth #3 – Helicopters are too fragile to fly in strong winds

Myth #4 – A flight in a helicopter is always bumpier than in a aeroplane

Myth #5 – Helicopter pilots are different from other people

Myths #1 – Autorotations

In Myths #1 he covers and explains the ability of helicopters to “land” safely in autorotation and states:

The fact is: You have a better chance of survival after a complete power failure in a helicopter than you do in an aeroplane.

Although a helicopter in autorotation will descend at a faster-than-normal-rate, helicopter pilots are trained to handle this event. As the helicopter nears the ground, the pilot manipulates the controls so that the momentum generated by the turning rotors during the descent is converted into lift.

“Even under the most unfavourable conditions, a skilled pilot can usually still make a safe autorotative landing – no damage & no injuries – into an area not much larger than the helicopter itself.”


I decided to handle this question for myself as follows

I have the impression that whatever you start to fly – you will find a very plausible and reasonable explanation as to why exactly this kind of flying or aircraft is the safest. And, with all of them, fatal accidents can happen.

If you fly paragliders for example, you will become convinced that they are the safest because they have no technical parts that could fail at all. Yes, there are no technical parts to fail – there is no argument about this. But, they can collapse in on themselves, you can get seriously blown away, sucked into clouds etc. and of course fatal accidents can happen.

I do not know any statistical numbers, whether or not it’s true, that the chance of survival of an engine failure in a helicopter is higher than in aeroplanes.

However, there are many scientific studies that prove that more then 75% of all aviation accidents – whatever aircraft type – are pilots mistakes anyway (mis-interpretation of the weather, over-estimation of their own skills etc.).

So for me it’s not the question as to which aircraft is the safest, but how your own skills are. And this, in my opinion, is purely dependent on your training. Exactly the same as driving a car, motorbike, sailing or downhill skiing etc.

It is a matter of fact that during helicopter training the autorotation is constantly trained straight from the beginning and I did not find them scary at all – see post about autorotations.


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PPL(H) – Concept of this Website

PPL(H) – Concept of this Website

General Concept – “From_Zero_To_Pro”

This project is spread over different web-channels. The idea is to balance between entertainment and information.

To illustrate this journey I have taken a diary “approach”.

But have also mixed in different things I came across during my training.


This Website – Articles & Blog

Picture Gallery & Instagram – my pictures during training and also living around the South of the UK.

Facebook – The more diary-like part – spontaneous posts.

Pinterest – Thousands of pins I have continously collected since I started the training.


All blog posts are related to a specific step I am learning – chronological.

But, they are not written on a daily basis like a pure diary.

They are grouped in parts which made a major impression on me, or, represented a significant milestone to me.

So, most blog posts cover such a step on the day it happened & a retrospective Added Note.

Sometimes, I uploaded or linked some stuff I created to memorise things or make my student life easier.

Bear in mind

That said, it is a personal and subjective description of what I experienced or felt.

The helicopter training covers a wide spectrum of quite different activities or talents. For example: physical vs. brain work / mathematics, physics vs. general knowledge, verbal expression etc.

That is one reason I really like this training and it’s versatile demands.

If you get struck at one end, there is always another end where you can continue to work on your skills.

Other students, or yourself, might have some very similar, but of course, very different major impressions.

And last but not least –  I am neither a teacher nor experienced pilot and just on my way “From_Zero_To_Pro”.

It could be that the ‘pros’ totally disagree with some of my impressions. I hope not too often though …

My aviation pre-knowledge before starting the training

I was flying paragliders quite intensively for about 8 years and stopped more than 10 years ago. Paragliding without engine & radio in The Alps (outside of any air zones) brings a lot of understanding and experience concerning weather, wind- & thermal systems. It also brings a bit of an understanding about basic airfoil aerodynamics and, of course, skills about recovering collapsing wings and absorbing heavy g-forces. However, none of this is of much help to fly helicopters and it’s too long ago and not in my inner reflex-system any more – but perhaps I understimate this part.

Half a year before I started the Helicopter training, I had built a quite unstable RC Quadcopter (Drone) and trained flying it to quite a skilled level, 100 hours in 4 months. I do not think that this kind of flying helps a lot but during the last 10 years I had almost forgotten and with this drone it came back to me what amazing, completely new skills one could build within respectable time if one really wanted to. It’s all about continous training & keeping it going, for everyone.

Before my trial lesson I had flown as a passenger in a helicopter twice almost 20 years ago. The same with small fixed wings and shortly before my trial lesson I made a pleasure flight in a gyrocopter.

My mother tongues are German & French – that’s not of major importance, but did not help on British radio!

I have never read a book about helicopters before and I have no friends flying helicopters.

I have played the drums since the age of 12. It has nothing in common with helicopters, but, training new, coordinated and individual movements between arms and legs was not new to me.

That’s it, the expression “From_Zero” fits pretty well, I suppose.

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