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 Meteorology 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 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 meteorology 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 of pictures of amazing weather phenomena on Pinterest.
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 it 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 the 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 repetitive 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 aerodynamics work, the more I wondered how they worked in reality. They are a bit of a wonder of the world and can perform such incredible 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 official POH can also be found online on the website of Robinson.