When I was learning to fly, I didn’t have nearly the resources that exist today, especially when it comes to technology. Don’t worry, this isn’t a lecture on how things were when I was your age. In the early 2000s, when I wanted to consume aviation content, I had pretty much two ways of doing it – reading my flight manuals or watching my Sporty’s DVDs. There’s nothing wrong with either of those things, but what used to be primarily an at-home session can now be carried out just about anywhere. I can now watch flying videos and read flight manuals right on my phone or iPad. I couldn’t do that on my old single-screen-color Nokia cell phone unless you consider the old game “snake” somehow aviation related. That’s a stretch. So let’s explore and celebrate ten different really cool platforms for enjoying aviation content on the go.
1. Airfoil (App)
Airfoil is an app that lets pilots and aviation enthusiasts chat, buy, sell and connect. It’s a new app, but I’ve been on board with this development team since they announced the launch – I even tested the app in its beta phase. It has been launched with excellence thus far and I believe in the vision and the direction of the app. New features have already been pouring out, including local METAR weather and the ability to file and fly with Foreflight. On the horizon are a Groups platform where flight schools, aviation colleges or flying clubs can have their own space to connect, followed by a private messaging feature. I really dig the ability to get push notifications on discussion threads – it keeps the discussions going while on the go. Click here to head on over and join the discussion!
2. Stuck Mic Avcast (Podcast)
You might think I have a bias towards Stuck Mic having been a guest on the show, but in reality, being a fan of the podcast is why I connected with them in the first place. Featuring a regular crew of several great hosts like Carl Valeri, Eric Crump, Sean Moody, Tom Frick, Victoria Neuville, Larry Overstreet, and Russ Roslewski, they cover the latest aviation topics and interview some great people in aviation. At the end of each podcast, the hosts each have a “Pick of the Week,” which is a cool aviation themed finding out in the internet world. Listen to the Clayviation episode here!
3. MZeroA (YouTube Channel)
In the world of brand loyalty and engagement, I am a true fan of MZeroA. I stumbled on the seemingly endless YouTube flight training videos a few years ago when I started the process of kicking of the rust and getting current in the airplane again. Jason Schappert and his team offer online ground school, podcasts, books, and videos – not to mention the in-person and live seminars I’ve attended. It feels like taking a flying lesson right on your mobile device.
4. Flight of Passage (Audiobook)
A classic story of two young teenaged brothers who rebuild a Piper Cub and fly it coast to coast, this true story leaves me both nostalgic for the old days of aviation and driven for the future of aviation every time I read it. It’s an aviation story that deals with real issues like family and growing up. This is a must read for any pilot or aviation enthusiast. Click here to get it on Audible!
5. LiveATC (App)
I’m not sure it gets much more nerdy than listening to a live stream of air traffic control broadcasts while driving down the road, but I’ve never been ashamed of the avgeek title, so why hide it now? There are a ton of airports and channels to choose from – probably even one near you. This is great for student pilots looking to get some time immersed in the language of aviation radio. Download here.
6. The Finer Points of Flying (Podcast)
Hosted by Jason Miller, a veteran flight instructor from the San Francisco Bay area, various flight training topics are delved into and discussed in a concise format that reminds me of a good flight instructor debriefing after a flight. Entertaining and informative, I am not the least bit ashamed to say that I have listened to every single episode. Check out The Finer Points here!
7. FlightChops (YouTube Channel)
Steve Thorne produces super-high-quality YouTube videos of his flying adventures that feel more like a TV show or documentary than a YouTube series. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if these episodes were available on television in the future. Not only are the videos always very entertaining and cover cool aviation topics, but it’s easy to relate to Steve’s humble approach to flying. Rather than making videos specifically teach (he emphasizes that they are NOT flight instruction), he makes videos to document HIS learning, and is quick to point out the mistakes he has made (the ones most of us have made, too, but would have cut out) and how he learned from them.
8. X-Plane 10 (App)
You might have heard me rave about flight simulators a time or two. I use X-Plane on my desktop, but when I’m away from home and don’t have the full setup, the mobile version is a blast on my phone or iPad. It plays a bit more like a game than the practice of chair flying, with challenging scenarios to complete, like an engine fire in flight or a mountaintop landing. The controls are simplified with various sliders on the screen for power, flaps and rudder, but recent updates allow for interactive controls around the cockpit.
9. AviatorCast (Podcast)
As a flight simulator enthusiast, this podcast does a great job of tying together the world of general aviation to the flight simulator environment. Featuring a great lineup of guests who are interviewed on the show, this podcast brings out my inner avgeek. Just after Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, there was an Aviatorcast episode discussing the various ships in the movie from a general aviation perspective – nerdy and delightful.
10. Sully (Audiobook)
The actual name of the book is named “Highest Duty,” written by Captain Chesley Sullenberger after his famous “Miracle on the Hudson,” but you’ll likely find it under “Sully” now. The movie chronicled the famous flight and investigation afterwards, but the book delved much deeper into Sully’s life and background and focused less on the dramatic side of the aftermath of the water landing.
Getting Beyond The Noise
Being an aviator is so much more than “having the license” and getting through a one time event of learning to fly – Jason Schappert of MZeroA sums it up best when he says that “a good pilot is always learning.” Consuming aviation content not only helps to learn new information, but it also serves to keep the old information sharp. The internet is a noisy place. There is so much “out there” that it can be hard to drill down on the standout content. I’d love to hear what your favorite corners of the content world are, be it apps, audiobooks, YouTube channels or podcasts. Leave some comments below!
Subscribe to our mailing list for great content each week! Follow us at facebook.com/Clayviation and Twitter/Instagram @clayviation