So you are thinking of starting your training for a Private Pilot License, you will need to read a lot of handbooks and guides to get you through your training. Though there are many different manufacturers, they all pretty much have the same information it is just presented in a different way. There is a difference however in the two major types of publications that you want to be aware of.
There are two types of training manuals and handbooks out there are:
1: FAA Publications
2: Aftermarket publications
1: The FAA. Publications are written and printed by the FAA. Many of these are referenced in the Practical Test Standards. One thing you want to understand is the fact that the Pilot Examiners are also Designated and Trained by the FAA. If you are on a budget, you want to get what you need for the Private Pilot Flight Test.
Listed below are the most important FAA Publications that will have the subject areas you will need for your Private Pilot Training.
Airplane Flying Handbook: The Airplane Flying Handbook covers all your private pilot training maneuvers
Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge: This Publication will cover most of the aeronautical knowledge areas and many of the flight maneuvers required for your private pilot training
Aviation Weather: This book explains all aspects of weather. You will need to be able to explain different types of weather systems on your Private Pilot Practical Test
Aviation Weather Services: This is the FAA publication that explains how to interpret all of the weather info. This is the FAA's Guide on how to read the weather reports and forecasts that are available through the FAA and Flight Service Stations.
There are other publications known as advisory circulars. These are publications put out by the FAA that are specific information about a given subject. An example of one of these publications is “Uncontrolled Airport Operations”
2: Aftermarket Publications: There are many publications that have been made up and known as industry standard. Many times the unofficial publications will have some things missing that are in the official Publications put out by the FAA. The ground Portion of your Private Pilot Flight Test will have questions related to the Faa Publications, The Pilot Examiner will expect you to understand the information in these Publications.
Perfect examples are the many airport guides that you can find published by many different companies. If you don't bring in the information put out by the FAA, it could result in a disapproval since you are not using what the FAA has published.
One thing that most students and many instructors don’t understand is the fact that the Practical test standards for your Private Pilot Practical test are based on the FAA publications. There is a section on the Practical Test Standards that will give you a list of publications that were used to make up the Practical Test Standards.
On the day of your flight test, you will want to know what the FAA says about the tasks listed in the practical test standards. In the past, I have seen when a student will reference a non FAA Publication and many times it resulted in a disapproval notice was given to the student because he/she was expected to have an understanding of the FAA Publications. Not what someone else thinks the FAA was trying to say.
Once again remember that the Designated Pilot Examiner who will conduct your flight test is bound by the FAA Practical Test Standards. They must follow them in the evaluation process. You will also notice a reference to the FAA publication in each area of operation listed in the practical test standards. This is what you will be expected to know.
So remember that if you are using aftermarket publications and manuals for your flight training; that is fine, just make sure you bring the FAA Publications to your flight test and be able to explain them.