Over the last few years, I have talked to a number of people who have been interested in learning to fly and becoming a pilot. To that end, I had compiled a list of links and information and tended to email it to them when they were in the process of booking their first flight lesson. It dawned on me that I had never posted it to the blog so here's my compilation of links and info on learning to fly for all to see.
The general links to EAA's (Experiemental Aircraft Association) and AOPA's (Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association) Learn to Fly websites. If you get serious, you should join AOPA or both, it's inexpensive and well worth the annual dues:
Here's a link to my blog where I wrote up my initial training (look for the early posts in 2007), but it's a good way to get an overall understanding of the steps. In the blog (you have to read the posts oldest to newest to get the timeline correct). This was for the private certificate but the sport license is a great way to get up in the air much sooner.
You will hear a lot about the FAR/AIM which stands for Federal Aviation Regulations and Aeronautical Information Manual. (FAR now referred to 14 CFR or Code of Federal Regulations as they are trying to get away from the FAR terminology). The FAR details all of the federal rules for flying. You will pay most attention to part 61 and 91. It's best to always buy this and in the beginning of the book it will tell you which sections and rules pertain to you. Also, the AIM is just what it says it is. Bascially best practices and general knowledge related to Aviation. The FAR/AIM is the bible and those other handbooks are supporting matarial but much easier to digest and read. You can buy the FAR/AIM on Amazon as well: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/156027655X
The FAA has a ton of additional information on their website if you want to check it out: http://www.faa.gov/library/ http://www.faa.gov/pilots/
The Written Exam
You will also need to prepare for the written exam I found this book to be the most help Private Pilot Test Prep 2008
Also, if you order a set of Sporty's videos (see Video section below), the will include a CD-ROM that has practice questions and lets you take mock exams.
The Practical Test
Once you get past all of the required flight time and you've past your written, you will then prepare for the practical test with the Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE). The practical test will begin with an hour to two hour "conversation" where the DPE will probe your knowledge of ALL the available material you've learned over since your training began. Everything is fair game from your aircraft systems to weather to FARs to aiport ops, etc. To help prepare for that oral portion, this is a decent book: Private Oral Exam Guide
I can't say enough about how helpful many of these were to listen to in the car on the way in, and they're free... I found them and subscribed to them through iTunes which makes managing them easy, search on pilot, aviation, and flying.
The Finer Points - this is the best one for training by far. I listened to all of them (100+) back to back in my car over the course of a few months and they were very valuable. The annoying part being is listening to the intro music every time... Check out this particular podcast on learning to fly.
Uncontrolled Airspace - general banter, but I like it because one of the guys is the editor of Flying Safety magazine (which you should subscribe to eventually)
Flying wouldn't be flying without gear. For starters you really do not need anything, just show up and you may be able to borrow a headset from your instructor. If you decide you like it, buy a decent quality one that is relatively affordable (they go up in price to around $1,000...). I purchase a David Clark H10-14.3 which is a classic, passive noise reduction headset. DCs are known for legendary quality and now that I've purchased an active noise reduction headset I have one for passengers. When you and I flew in the 152, my old DC is then one you used.
For gear, charts, and other items I've found SkyGeek to have the best prices, shipping and customer service.
About two years ago, I wrote about stupid pilot tricks. Basically the discussion centered around the high percentage of accidents caused by "maneuvering" (for example buzzing your friends...) as well as just giving general aviation a bad name. Although I would classify the ATC recording of the this "pilot's" (I put pilot in quotes, b/c I'm not really sure he is one) interactions with the controller, humorous, I'd say actually it's rather embarrassing. Really, it is just beyond belief that he actually thought it would be cool to land on a beach...on Long Island!