The 5 Best Aviation Audiobooks (Chosen by a Pilot)

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  • Post last modified:September 5, 2021

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I’m so lucky. From a very young age I always dreamed of flying and for the last 30 years I’ve been doing just that. I’m lucky too that this passion of mine is also my job and I get to work with great people and fly to amazing places around the world.

We are so lucky too. In this wonderful time we live in we can listen to fascinating stories from the full range of flying – from some of the earliest aviators to modern day giants; plus everything in between.

The following is a varied list of what I consider to be the best aviation audiobooks available.

If you have any other recommendations I’d love to hear them – please email me: [email protected].

Thanks,

Pete

All of the books below are available on Audible.com. Audible is a service I use personally and for new users you get one free audiobook with a 30 day free trial (which can be cancelled at any time).




First Light aviation audiobook.

4.8 Stars

First Light – Geoffrey Wellum

I read this book many years ago as a teenager and it was one of those fascinating stories that inspired me to follow my dream of becoming a pilot. (Sep 2021: I’m actually listening to this audiobook again at the moment and really enjoying it).

First Light tells the story of a young 17-year old Geoffrey Wellum who enlists in the RAF two months before the outbreak of World War 2 and succeeds in becoming the youngest Spitfire Pilot in his squadron.

A fascinating tale of of the wonders of flight, and the horrors of war.

In First Light, we learn what it was like for a teenager to learn to fly Tiger Moths, Harvards and of course the Spitfire. He recounts the joy of his first solo flight, the stress and strain of training, mastering the Spitfire and he brings the reader along on incredible patrols over England and bomber escorts over France.

Geoffrey Wellum succeeds in bringing the people and machines of this time to life.

Why I recommend this audiobook: This gets my vote for one of the best aviation audiobooks. For all lovers of aviation stories this is a true classic. Highly recommended for anyone interested in military aviation or aviation in general who wants a firsthand account of flying the famous Spitfire in the Battle of Britain.




The Killing Zone aviation audiobook.

4.6 Stars


The Killing Zone: How and Why Pilots Die

The “Killing Zone” refers to the time when private pilots first become qualified at around 50 flight hours of flight time until they reach 350 hours – they are newly qualified but lack the experience that only flying can deliver.

In The Killing Zone: How and Why Pilots Die the author explains why this zone of experience is the most deadly for newly qualified pilots, he lists the 12 mistakes most likely to kill them, and the strategies needed for staying alive.

This book presents accidents and explains how they happened, and what could have been done to avoid them.

Why I recommend this audiobook: One of my instructors once told me “Flying is not inherently dangerous, but it’s very unforgiving”. We learn from those that have gone before and the mistakes that have been made. The Killing Zone is essential listening for all pilots – from new trainees up to the most experienced private pilots.

“You can fly through the zone. Or you can die in it”.




Highest Duty aviation audiobook.

4.8 Stars

Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Mattered

At this stage there’s not many people who haven’t heard of Captain Chelsey Sullenberger (a.k.a. “Sully) and the amazing landing of an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River in New York. What most people haven’t heard though is the story (and the lessons) told first hand by the man who was there.

“Highest Duty” gives us the full background that lead up to that fateful moment when Sully lost both engines flying out of New York – the book brings us from his early life learning to fly a crop duster in Texas, through his time in the Air Force flying the Phantom F4 before starting his airline career. It explains, as Sully says himself, “My entire life led me safely to that river.”

Why I recommend this: Having spent many years flying the Airbus A320 myself this accident shows us the importance of aircraft design, and the training the pilots receive. As one of the most memorable aviation accidents in recent years, and as a testament to the training all airline pilots undergo, Sully explains in his own words how every part of his aviation experience lead to those few minutes, and the saving of the lives of all those on board. A definite contender for “best aviation audiobook”!

The world is a small place! A number of years ago in Boston I met a passenger who had been on this flight. In fact she was on the way to meet another former passenger for their yearly reunion, something they had done every year since the accident. I asked her did she ever get on a plane again – she answered “the very next day”.



Collision on Tenerife aviation audiobook.

4.7 Stars


Collision on Tenerife – The How and Why of the World’s Worst Aviation Disaster

Having flown to the Canary Islands many times makes this book even more real.

Collision on Tenerife tells the story of the worst air disaster in aviation history when two fully-loaded Boeing 747s collided at Tenerife airport resulting in the loss of 583 lives.

As pilots, throughout our careers, this is an accident which we regularly review and learn from. As with many accidents, there were multiple causes – and multiple chances to stop it from happening. 

How did it happen? And could it have been avoided?



Yeager An Autobiography aviation audiobook.

4.8 Stars


Yeager: An Autobiography

A man who needs little introduction, Chuck Yeager’s fascinating career spanned the entirety of modern aviation history. Read about his early life flying crop dusters in the 1930’s through his Air Force career in World War II and of course what it was like to be the first person to break the sound barrier.

In Yeager: An Autobiography we learn what shaped this true aviation legend, we read about his exploits including becoming a World War II ace by downing 5 aircraft in one mission, escaping from Nazi Germany after being shot down and so much more.

“This book was written by a pilot, who loves to fly.”

Why I recommend this audiobook: There is a reason millions of copies of this book have been sold and enjoyed. This is a chance to understand a true legend, written in his own words.



What do you think is the best aviation audiobook? Is there one aviation audiobook that really stands out in your mind or that really inspired you? What should I listen to next? I’d love to hear from you! [email protected]