Guest Post: Understanding Flying - Book Review

2 min read

If you’re about to head off to pilot school or you’re simply interested in the matter, Understanding Flying by Richard Taylor is a great aviation book and one you should not miss. In this book intended to reach beginning aviators, Taylor gives a great understanding of the subject matter from the ground up. The information provided in the work is an achievement in and of itself, but Taylor keeps from digging a hole of dense vocabulary. What is left is a thorough yet entertaining read of which all ages are sure to enjoy.

Richard L. Taylor, author of the book, was born in 1924 and is the founder and president of the Antique Airplane Association, which specializes in preserving some of the oldest planes in the world. Taylor has also written Instrument Flying, Fair-Weather Flying, Positive Flying, IFR for VFR Pilots, and Recreational Flying. He is also the president of the Airpower Museum located in Blakesburg, Iowa. I’d venture to guess Mr. Taylor knows a thing or two about flying planes, so I never questioned his authority in providing aviation advice and information.

While Taylor is an aviation expert, I really enjoyed that he refrained from “shoving it in your face” so to speak. He doesn’t talk down to readers and he expects them to be inexperienced and relatively unknowledgeable in the subject matter. I particularly enjoyed chapter 6 of the book titled, “Flight Instruments.” Check out the following passage:

A different kettle for magnetic fish is deviation error. It’s one of the insidious ones, almost always present, but in relatively small quantities and subject to change without your knowledge. Anything within the aircraft that generates a magnetic field will influence the iron bars in the compass, and although they may be trying to show you the proper direction, they’re deflected from their purpose by stray magnetic forces (page 140).

I thought this passage was great because Taylor starts out by identifying a key term of which readers (and this certainly goes for me) were previously unaware of the term. He explains why the term is important and what affects the compass, which was found through his own experience. In addition the text is very readable and isn’t saturated with difficult terms or vocabulary. While it may not appear like much, I truly appreciated the approach Taylor took in writing this book: informative, experiential, and easy to read.

The best part is that the entire book reads like that. When I first started getting involved in aviation, this was one of the first books I read. It continues to be one of the books I turn potential pilots onto when first starting out. The author certainly has credibility and a prominent voice in aviation, he melds his own experience with “textbook information” quite well, and he doesn’t bore the reader with dense reading. I loved the book and I strongly recommend the book for any beginner pilot.

Chris Oquist is a private pilot and web developer at Banyan Pilot Shop in South Florida. He is an avid blogger and article writer whose expertise includes aviation books and pilot supplies. As an aviation enthusiast, Chris is passionate about sharing his knowledge on all-things-aviation.

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