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Private Pilot Workbook

Updated: Dec 12, 2022


This is the Master Copy of the Private Pilot Workbook. It does not teach any topics in depth but provides tools for helping students to memorize important items needed to fly safely and to pass their FAA Written Test and Checkride Exams.

After studying this document, we suggest printing the Practice Copy of this Workbook at the link below:


You can also listen to this workbook as an audio reading by clicking the "Play" button below.


Below you will find all of the applicable ACS Subject Areas. Clicking any of the links in this table of contents will jump you to the appropriate section of this document.



Types of Risk

  1. Total Risk = The sum of identified and unidentified risks.

  2. Identified Risk = Risk that has been identified and determined.

  3. Unidentified Risk = Risk that has not yet been identified.

  4. Acceptable Risk = Risk that can be allowed to persist.

  5. Unacceptable Risk = Risk that cannot be allowed to persist.

  6. Residual Risk = Risk remaining after safety efforts have been fully employed.

Hazardous Attitudes

Checklists and Models

The 5P Model

Plan - Plane - Pilot - Passengers - Programming.



Eligibility Requirements

  • 17 Years Old.

  • Read, write, speak, and understand English.

  • Pass Written Test.

  • Pass Checkride Exam.

  • Hold Student Pilot, Sport Pilot, or Recreational Pilot Certificate.

Aeronautical Experience

  • 40 hours Total Time that includes:

    • 20 hours Dual Instruction that includes:

      • 3 hours Cross Country

      • 3 hours Night Flight that includes:

        • 1 Cross Country over 100nm

        • 10 Takeoffs and Landings to a Full Stop

      • 3 hours Simulated Instrument

      • 3 hours in previous 2 Calendar Months

    • 10 hours Solo Flight Time that includes:

      • 5 hours Solo Cross Country

      • One Solo Cross Country over 150nm Total Distance with Full Stop Landings at 3 points. One segment of flight must be greater than 50nm.

      • Three Takeoffs and Landings to a Full Stop at a Towered Airport.

Recency Requirements

  • To Act as PIC:

    • Flight Review every 24 Calendar Months.

  • To Act as PIC Carrying Passengers (Day):

    • 3 Takeoffs and Landings in preceding 90 days in Category, Class, and Type.

  • To Act as PIC Carrying Passengers (Night):

    • 3 Takeoffs and Landings in preceding 90 days in Category, Class, and Type. Landings must be at Night and to a Full Stop.

Medical Certificates



LAHSO - Land and Hold Short Operations

  • Must a pilot accept a LAHSO Clearance? = No.

  • Must a pilot adhere to an accepted LAHSO Clearance? = Yes.

  • Can a pilot still perform a Go-Around if needed? = Yes.

Sterile Cockpit Principle

Means no unnecessary conversations or duties during critical phases of flight:

  • Taxi, Takeoff, Approach, Landing.

Hot Spots

Spots on the airport indicating congestion or confusion.

Situational Awareness

Always knowing your current position, future plan, and paying attention to what is going on around you.

Airport Signs

Airport Markings



Right of Way Rules

  1. Aircraft in Distress

  2. Balloon

  3. Glider

  4. Airship

  5. Aircraft towing another Aircraft

  6. Airplane and Helicopter

Vestibular Illusions

Visual Illusions

Proper Scanning Technique

Aircraft Blind Spots

High Wing Aircraft = Blind spots above the pilot.

Low Wing Aircraft = Blind spots below the pilot.





Types of Hypoxia

Symptoms of Hypoxia

  • Cyanosis (blue fingernails and lips)

  • Headache

  • Decreased Response Times

  • Impaired Judgement

  • Euphoria

  • Visual Impairment

  • Drowsiness

  • Dizzy Sensations

  • Numbness

  • Tingling in Fingers and Toes

Hypoxia Corrective Actions

  • Descend to lower altitude

  • Put on an oxygen mask

  • Stop pulling G-forces


Too much oxygen. Not enough carbon dioxide to regulate the breathing rate.

  • Breathe into a paper bag

  • Talk or sing aloud

  • Reduce breathing rate

Middle Ear and Sinus Congestion

  • Traps air pressure in sinuses.

  • Pilots experience an ease of pain during the climb.

  • Pilots experience increased pain during descent.

Motion Sickness

Caused by the brain receiving conflicting messages about the state of the body.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

  • Colorless and odorless gas.

  • Attaches to blood cells 200 times faster than oxygen.

  • Most commonly from the aircraft heater.


  • Headache

  • Blurred Vision

  • Dizziness

  • Drowsiness

  • Loss of Muscle Power

  • Death

Stress and Fatigue

Alcohol Rules

  1. 8 hours from bottle to throttle.

  2. .04% BAC max.

  3. No flying while hungover or under the influence.

Scuba Diving Wait Times



Reciprocating Engines

Back and forth motion of the pistons.

Spark vs Compression Ignition

  • Spark - Provided by spark plugs

  • Compression - Provided by high compression in the cylinders

Cylinder Arrangements

The 4 Stroke Cycle

  1. Intake Stroke = Suck

  2. Compression Stroke = Squeeze

  3. Power Stroke = Bang

  4. Exhaust Stroke = Blow

Types of Propellers

  1. Fixed Pitch Prop:

    1. Blade angles are set and do not vary.

    2. Climb Prop = Good at climbing not at cruise.

    3. Cruise Prop = Good at cruise not at climb.

  2. Adjustable Pitch:

    1. Blade angles can be varied on the ground with the engine not running.

  3. Constant Speed Prop:

    1. Blade angles vary in flight to maintain a constant RPM.

    2. High Blade Pitch = Lower RPM (more drag).

    3. Low Blade Pitch = Higher RPM (less drag).

Induction Systems

Types of Oil Systems

  1. Wet Sump System = Oil is located in a sump that is integral with the engine.

  2. Dry Sump System = Oil is contained in a separate tank not integral with the engine.

Cowl Flap Operation

  1. Open = Releases hot air from engine cowling and cools the engine.

  2. Closed = Traps hot air in engine cowling to keep the engine warmer.

Combustion Issues

  1. Detonation = Uncontrolled/explosive ignition of fuel/air mixture (not a smooth burn).

  2. Pre-Ignition = Fuel/air mixture detonates ahead of the ignition stroke.

Fuel System Types

  1. Gravity Feed System = Gravity moves fuel from tanks to the engine (high wing aircraft).

  2. Fuel Pump System = Fuel is transferred to the engine from fuel tanks via fuel pumps (low wing aircraft).

Fuel Grades and Colors

Generators vs Alternators

  • Generators = Produce DC power. May not produce enough power at low RPM settings.

  • Alternators = Produce AC power. Can output enough power through a large range of RPM settings.

Fuses vs Circuit Breakers

  • Fuses = When blown, must be replaced.

  • Circuit Breakers = When popped, may be reset.

Ammeter vs Loadmeter

  • Ammeter = Shows if the alternator/generator is producing an adequate supply of electrical power. Negative indications mean there is not enough power and that the system is drawing off the battery.

  • Loadmeter = Shows the electrical load being placed on the alternator/generator.

Types of Landing Gear

Anti-Ice and De-Ice Systems

  • De-Ice Boots = Inflatable boots on the leading edge of the wing to break ice.

  • Heated Wing = Wing is heated to melt ice. Typically from the engine bleed air.

  • Weeping Wing = Leaks TKS fluid over wing to prevent ice build up.




Control roll about the longitudinal axis.


Controls pitch about the lateral axis.


Controls yaw about the vertical axis.


Attached to the trailing edge of the wing and provides both lift and drag.

Leading Edge Devices

Creates lift at the leading edge of the wing.



Atmospheric Composition

78% Nitrogen and 21% Oxygen.

Global Circulation Pattern

  • Air at the Poles cools and sinks then flows toward the Equator.

  • Air at the Equator heats and rises and flows toward the Poles.

Coriolis Force

The spinning of the Earth deflects the airflow in the Global Circulation Pattern.

  • Northern Hemisphere = Air deflected to the Right.

  • Southern Hemisphere = Air deflected to the Left.

  • Within 2,000’ of the surface = Friction slows air speed and deflects its direction.

Standard Atmosphere

Standard Pressure at Sea Level = 29.92.

  • Decreases 1 inch per 1,000’ of altitude gain.

Standard Temperature at Sea Level = 15C.

  • Decreases 2C per 1,000’ of altitude gain.

Wind and Currents

  • Horizontally moving air = Wind.

  • Vertically moving air = Convection.

  • High Pressure Systems = Air flows clockwise, downward, and outward.

  • Low Pressure Systems = Air flows counterclockwise, inward, and upward.

Windshear and Microbursts

  • Windshear = A sudden drastic change in wind direction or velocity over a short distance.

  • Low Level Windshear (LLWS) = Windshear that occurs near the surface.

  • Microburst = The most severe type of Windshear.

    • Lifespan = 5-15 minutes.

    • Downdraft Strength = Up to 6,000 FPM.

    • Headwind Losses = 30-90 knots.

Atmospheric Stability


Occur when air temperature increases with an increase in altitude (up to a certain point, which is the top of the inversion layer).

Fog Types

Cloud Families

Front Types

Stages of a Thunderstorm

Types of Icing



Weather Briefings

Can be obtained by calling 1(800) WX-BRIEF.



  • METAR stands for: Aviation Routine Weather Report.

  • Current surface weather observations.

  • Updated hourly.


  • TAF stands for: Terminal Aerodrome Forecast.

  • Forecasted weather for a 5 NM radius around airport.

  • Issued 4 times per day at: 0000Z, 0600Z, 1200Z, 1800Z.


  • Stands for: Pilot Reports.

  • Weather conditions reported by pilots in flight.


  • AIRMETs = Significant weather reports pertinent to smaller aircraft.

  • SIGMETs = Significant weather reports pertinent to all aircraft.

Winds and Temperatures Aloft

  • Give wind directions, velocities, and temperature for particular altitudes.

  • Any code beginning with a 6 or higher indicates winds are > 100 knots at that altitude.

Low Level Prognostic Charts

  • Forecasted weather covering the 48 Contiguous United States from the Surface to 48,000’ MSL.

  • They are issued 4 times daily at: 0000Z, 0600Z, 1200Z, 1800Z.

Radar Summary vs Satellite Imagery Charts



Terms and Definitions

  • Arm = The horizontal distance from the reference datum to the CG of an item.

  • Ballast = Weight carried in the aircraft to shift the CG within allowable limits.

  • Center of Gravity (CG) = The point at which an airplane would balance if suspended.

  • Center of Lift (CL) = The point at which the lift is concentrated on the wing.

  • CG Limits = The extreme locations within which the CG must land.

  • Datum = An imaginary vertical plane from which all measurements of Arms are taken.

  • Moment = The product of the weight of an item multiplied by its Arm.

  • Station = A location along the airplane fuselage usually given in terms of distance.

Effects of Being Overweight

  • Longer takeoff run.

  • Reduced rate and angle of climb.

  • Service ceiling lowered.

  • Cruise speed reduced.

  • Cruise range shortened.

  • Maneuverability is decreased.

  • Longer landing roll.

  • Excessive loads on landing gear.

Effects of CG Locations

The Weight Shift Formula

  • Weight Shifted/Total Weight = Change of CG/Distance Weight is Shifted

The Weight and Balance Formula

  • Weight X Arm = Moment



Types of Altitude

Effects on Density Altitude

Types of Airspeed

V-Speed Definitions



Class A Airspace

Class B Airspace

Class C Airspace

Class D Airspace

Class E Airspace

Class G Airspace

Class G VFR Weather Minimums

Special VFR Rules

  • Must have an ATC Clearance (pilot requested, cannot be assigned by ATC).

  • Must remain clear of clouds.

  • Flight visibility must be at least 1 SM.

  • To takeoff, ground visibility must be at least 1 SM.

  • Special VFR at Night = Pilot and plane must be Instrument Rated and Equipped.

Aircraft Speed Limits

Other Airspace Areas



Types of VORs

  • VOR = Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range

  • VOR/DME = VOR with Distance Measuring Equipment (DME)

  • VORTAC = VOR with TACAN (military use only)

VOR Service Volumes

  • Line of sight.


  • OBS = Omnibearing Selector

  • CDI = Course Deflection Indicator

  • Cone of Confusion = Area near the VOR where the signal is unreliable

  • Reverse Sensing = Pilot induced error giving erroneous information

Time and Distance Calculations

  • Time in Seconds between Bearings/Degrees of Bearing Change = Minutes to the Station

Types of VOR Checks

Signing off a VOR Check

  • Use the acronym “SLED.”

  • Can be signed off by a pilot.

    • S = Signature

    • L = Location

    • E = Error Amount

    • D = Date



DME Basics

  • DME = Distance Measuring Equipment

Slant Range Distance

  • Less accurate when close to the VOR and at Higher Altitudes.

  • More accurate when further from VOR and at Lower Altitudes.

Straight Line Distance

  • GPS distance is given in “Straight Line Distance” and does not have the inherent errors of “Slant Range Distance.”



The Numbers

  • 24 (or more) Satellites in Orbit.

  • They orbit around 6 Orbital Planes.

Information Relayed by GPS Satellites

  1. ID (name/number)

  2. Position (lat/long)

  3. Time Code

Number of Satellites Required


  • RAIM = Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring

  • FDE = Fault Detection and Exclusion

GPS Sensitivity Modes


  • WAAS = Wide Area Augmentation System

  • LAAS = Local Area Augmentation System



Terminology and Definitions

  • Pilotage = Navigation by reference to landmark checkpoints.

  • Dead Reckoning = Navigation by means of time and distance calculations.

  • True Course = The course measured on the chart (in reference to True North).

  • Wind Correction Angle = Adjusting heading for wind direction and velocity.

  • Magnetic Variation = The angular difference between True and Magnetic North.

  • Magnetic Heading = Correcting the True Heading for Magnetic Variation.

  • Magnetic Deviation = Electromagnetic fields that cause erroneous compass indications.

VFR Cruising Altitudes

VFR Fuel Requirements

Lost Procedures

Remember the 5 C’s

  1. C = Climb

  2. C = Conserve

  3. C = Call

  4. C = Confess

  5. C = Comply



Anatomy of the Eye

The Night Blind Spot

  • Located in the Center of the Field of Vision at Night.

Night Adaptation

  • Take the eyes 30 minutes to fully adjust to night lighting.

Pilot Flashlight

  • White Light = Used for preflighting the aircraft.

  • Red Light = Used for in-flight chart reading (considered “non-glaring”).

Airport Beacon Lights

PAPI Light Indications



Training Requirement

  • A High Altitude Endorsement is needed to PIC an aircraft with a Service Ceiling or Maximum Operating Altitude above 25,000’ MSL.

Supplemental Oxygen Use Requirements

Types of Supplemental Oxygen

Types of Decompression

Times of Useful Consciousness



The 4 Forces of Flight

  1. Lift

  2. Weight

  3. Thrust

  4. Drag

The 4 Left Turning Tendencies

  1. P-Factor

  2. Torque

  3. Gyroscopic Precession

  4. Spiraling Slipstream

The Production of Lift

  • Bernoulli’s Principle = An increase in the speed of a fluid (air) is accompanied by a decrease in its pressure.

  • Downwash Principle = Air deflected downward off the trailing edge of the wing.

Types of Drag

Ground Effect

Caused by the surface of the Earth upsetting the flow of Wingtip Vortices. Results in:

  1. Increase in Lift and Airspeed

  2. Decrease in Drag

Wake Turbulence Avoidance

Airplane Axes

  1. An airplane Pitches about its Lateral Axis.

    1. Wingtip to wingtip.

  2. An airplane Rolls about its Longitudinal Axis.

    1. Nose to tail.

  3. An airplane Yaws about its Vertical Axis.

    1. Top to bottom.

Aircraft Stability

Slipping Vs Skidding Turns

  • Slipping Turn = Ball goes to the inside of the turn.

  • Skidding Turn = Ball goes to outside of the turn.

  • Coordinated Turn = Ball stays centered in the cage.

Va - Maneuvering Speed

  • Below Va Speed = The aircraft will stall.

  • Above Va Speed = The aircraft may suffer structural damage.

  • Heavier Aircraft = Get a Higher Maneuvering Speed.

  • Lighter Aircraft = Get a Lower Maneuvering Speed.



Required Aircraft Documents

Remember the acronym “ARROW.”

  • A = Airworthiness Certificate

  • R = Registration Certificate

  • R = Radio Station License (outside the US)

  • O = Operating Handbook

  • W = Weight and Balance

Required Aircraft Inspections

Airworthiness Directives (ADs)

  • Required to be complied with and may not be overflown.

Form 337’s

  • Major Alterations or Repairs.

  • Any change not on the Aircraft Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS).

Required VFR Day Equipment

Remember the acronym “ATOMATOFLAMES.”

  • A = Airspeed Indicator

  • T = Tachometer

  • O = Oil Pressure Gauge

  • M = Manifold Pressure Gauge

  • A = Altimeter

  • T = Temperature Gauge

  • O = Oil Temperature Gauge

  • F = Fuel Quantity Indicators

  • L = Landing Gear Position Indicators

  • A = Anti-Collision Lights

  • M = Magnetic Compass

  • E = Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)

  • S = Safety Belts

Required VFR Night Equipment

Remember the acronym “FLAPS.”

  • All Day VFR Equipment plus the following:

  • F = Fuses (spares)

  • L = Landing Light (if the aircraft is for hire)

  • A = Anti-Collision Lights

  • P = Position Indicator Lights

  • S = Source of Electricity


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