The most recommended aviation books

Who picked these books? Meet our 28 experts.

28 authors created a book list connected to aviation, and here are their favorite aviation books.
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Book cover of Pacific Payback: The Carrier Aviators Who Avenged Pearl Harbor at the Battle of Midway

Kevin Miller Author Of The Silver Waterfall: A Novel of the Battle of Midway

From my list on The Battle of Midway and how it changed the course of WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired U.S. Navy carrier pilot, having flown the A-7 Corsair II and F/A-18 Hornet operationally, and formerly the Executive Vice President of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. Over 20 years I have spoken about the battle to diverse audiences, and my historical fiction novel The Silver Waterfall was written without changing any facts of the battle and features the real men who fought it. I am also the author of the Raven One trilogy of aircraft carrier techno-thrillers.

Kevin's book list on The Battle of Midway and how it changed the course of WW2

Kevin Miller Why did Kevin love this book?

It was the carrier-based dive-bombers that carried the day at Midway, and Moore’s narrative non-fiction account of the battle through the eyes of the actual men who fought at Midway in these dive-bombers is an entertaining and gripping page turner.

You learn of their fears, the uncertainty, and of their humble courage. Moore brings you with them in their SBD Dauntless cockpits. These men were what the United States had at the onset of the Pacific War, and Moore’s tribute to them is moving.

By Stephen L. Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pacific Payback as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Deeply researched and well written....By far the most detailed account of USS Enterprise’s dive-bombers and their decisive role at the Battle of Midway.”*

Sunday, December 7, 1941, dawned clear and bright over the Pacific....

But for the Dauntless dive-bomber crews of the USS Enterprise returning to their home base on Oahu, it was a morning from hell. Flying directly into the Japanese ambush at Pearl Harbor, they lost a third of their squadron and witnessed the heart of America’s Navy broken and smoldering on the oil-slicked waters below.

The next six months, from Pearl Harbor to the Battle of Midway—a…


Book cover of The 509th Remembered

Robert O. Harder Author Of The Three Musketeers of the Army Air Forces: From Hitler's Fortress Europa to Hiroshima and Nagasaki

From my list on the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Why am I passionate about this?

In May 1968, I arrived at my first duty station as a new B-52 navigator-bombardier. Later, at the bar, I was hailed by a booming voice from behind the beer taps. "Hi ya, lieutenant!" Moments later, he asked what I thought of the USAF so far. I said I was career-minded. ‘‘Hell, only the pilots get promoted; navigators get diddley-squat. Get out as soon as you can.” After he departed, the bartender came over. “Know who that was, lieutenant? He’s Tom Ferebee, the man who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima." The colonel had both underscored my dismal career prospects and instilled a lifelong passion for the subjects discussed in this book.

Robert's book list on the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Robert O. Harder Why did Robert love this book?

A meticulously compiled coffee-table ‘yearbook’ of the 509th Composite Group, including over 850 photos of people, places, and planes, along with 346 pages of text. A sometimes hard-to-come-by collector’s volume that is always pricey, it is nevertheless worth every penny. One will discover information nuggets here that cannot be found anywhere else. A must-book for anyone interested in the 509th CG. As told by the veterans who dropped the atomic bombs on Japan.

By Robert Krauss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 509th Remembered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Complete History Of the 509th Composite Group the WWII Army Aircorps Unit that dropped the Atomic Bombs on Japan. From their formation In 1944 to their return home to the United States in December 1945. The Book contains over 125 personal stories from veterans of the unit as well as over 800 Illustrations and 8 page color section with pictures of the Nose Art of the B-29s.Photos of all crews, all missions and the history of each plane Is detailed In the book, as well as a complete roster of all men In the unit


Book cover of Fork-Tailed Devil: The P-38

Philip Sherman Mygatt Author Of Innocence Lost – A Childhood Stolen

From my list on WWII stories you have probably never heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having been born two months before Pearl Harbor, as I grew older, I vaguely remember hearing my parents talking about the war. When I was able, I used to pull my little red wagon around the neighborhood to collect bacon grease I donated to the local butcher shop to support the war. After retiring from the technology industry, I tried my hand at writing books. After a few futile attempts, I finally started writing novels about WWII. I first wrote Return to La Roche-en-Ardenne, then Innocence Lost - A Childhood Stolen, and finally Thou Shall Do No Harm – Diary of an Auschwitz Physician which will be re-released in early 2023.

Philip's book list on WWII stories you have probably never heard of

Philip Sherman Mygatt Why did Philip love this book?

Being a pilot who flew F-4’s over North Vietnam, I have always been fascinated by WWII planes and how sophisticated they seemed at the time but, in retrospect, they were quite unsophisticated flying machines. The first model plane I built as a child was the P-38 and this book puts me right in the cockpit. The P-38 was a huge advancement in technology and demanded special skills to fly as it foreshadowed the complexity of the upcoming generation of jet fighters. Why not join me in the cockpit? 

By Martin Caidin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fork-Tailed Devil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of America's greatest military aviation historians relates the astonishing--and true--story of the only American warplane to fight in every operational theater in World War II from Pearl Harbor to Alaska and North Africa to Northern Europe.


Book cover of Masters of the Air: How The Bomber Boys Broke Down the Nazi War Machine

James B. Conroy Author Of The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan That Won the War

From my list on making history live and breathe.

Why am I passionate about this?

History has enthralled me from a very young age, drawn as a child as I was to Vikings, cowboys and Indians, medieval knights, ancient conquerors, and mythological gods. After practicing law in Boston for 38 years, I retired to write history full time, not to string dates and facts together in a powder-dry mix but to try to breathe life into the vibrant men and women who enlivened their times and can shed a timeless light on the challenges of ours. Hard work though it is, I have never been so satisfied with life.

James' book list on making history live and breathe

James B. Conroy Why did James love this book?

I have read many excellent books about World War Two, but none has kept me shaking my head in awe like this stunning account of the decisive US bombing campaign against Germany. Masters of the Air is an intensely personal account of the impossibly brave men and boys – for boys they often were – who bombed Nazi Germany into defeat.

Most of them by far were wounded, killed, or imprisoned, often in appalling conditions, after bailing out of plunging aircraft. It is hard to imagine a more moving account of tenacious courage and unimaginable stress or a more thorough, intriguing presentation of the air war over Germany.

I could not get enough of this vivid, inspiring book.

By Donald L. Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Masters of the Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Seconds after Brady's plane was hit, the Hundredth's entire formation was broken up and scattered by swarms of single-engine planes, and by rockets launched by twin-engine planes that flew parallel'

Meet the Flying Fortresses of the American Eighth Air Force, Britain's Lancaster comrades, who helped to bring down the Nazis

Historian and World War II expert Donald Miller brings us the story of the bomber boys who brought the war to Hitler's doorstep. Unlike ground soldiers they slept on clean beds, drank beer in local pubs, and danced to the swing music of the travelling Air Force bands. But they…


Book cover of The Tibbets Story

Robert O. Harder Author Of The Three Musketeers of the Army Air Forces: From Hitler's Fortress Europa to Hiroshima and Nagasaki

From my list on the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Why am I passionate about this?

In May 1968, I arrived at my first duty station as a new B-52 navigator-bombardier. Later, at the bar, I was hailed by a booming voice from behind the beer taps. "Hi ya, lieutenant!" Moments later, he asked what I thought of the USAF so far. I said I was career-minded. ‘‘Hell, only the pilots get promoted; navigators get diddley-squat. Get out as soon as you can.” After he departed, the bartender came over. “Know who that was, lieutenant? He’s Tom Ferebee, the man who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima." The colonel had both underscored my dismal career prospects and instilled a lifelong passion for the subjects discussed in this book.

Robert's book list on the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Robert O. Harder Why did Robert love this book?

While researching my book, I was fortunate to become acquainted with the Tibbets family, including his second wife Andrea Quattrehomme and his grandson Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets IV (USAF Ret.). Their co-operation, coupled with the details in this autobiography, was instrumental in revealing what the man was really like.

In 1937, Tibbets graduated from the Kelly Field, Texas pilot school, the “West Point of the Air." Among the first to deploy to Europe in 1942, he flew the lead plane in the initial heavy bomber raid against Fortress Europa. Additionally, he often flew as personal pilot to flag officers, including Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. After 43 combat missions he was rotated home to help development of the troubled B-29 program, which directly led to his selection as commander of the world’s first atomic bomber force.

By Paul W. Tibbets,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tibbets Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1 HARDCOVER BOOK WITH DUST COVER


Book cover of Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942

Carl Molesworth Author Of Flying Tiger Ace: The story of Bill Reed, China’s Shining Mark

From my list on the Air War in the China-Burma-India Theater during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

Carl Molesworth’s interest in China and the Far East dates back to childhood memories of stories told by his mother and grandmother of their experiences living in China during the 1920s. He acquired his interest in aviation from his father. Carl began researching the air war in the China-Burma-India Theater while working as a newspaper editor in the late 1970s and published his first book on the subject, Wing To Wing – Air Combat in China 1943-45, in 1990. Of his 14 subsequent books, nine have covered various aspects of air combat in the CBI.

Carl's book list on the Air War in the China-Burma-India Theater during WWII

Carl Molesworth Why did Carl love this book?

In my bookshelf alone I count eight unit histories of the American Volunteer Group, the storied band of American pilots and technicians who fought for China in the first seven months of America’s involvement in World War II. I’m sure there are more. But when I need to check a fact about the AVG, the first book I turn to is Daniel Ford’s 1991 work. Ford was the first author to research Japanese sources to tell the full story of the Flying Tigers, and for that he was roundly criticized by AVG veterans who felt he had denigrated them by revealing that Japanese records did not support all of the AVG claims of combat success. In my view, however, the important contribution of the AVG was not the number of enemy planes its pilots did or didn’t shoot down but instead was the morale boost its successes gave to an…

By Daniel Ford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flying Tigers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Early in the Second World War, in the skies over Rangoon, a handful of American pilots met and bloodied the Japanese Army Air Force, winning immortality as the "Flying Tigers." Arguably America's most famous combat unit, they were hired to defend beleaguered China for $600 a month, plus $500 for each Japanese plane shot down--fantastic money in 1941, when a Manhattan hotel room cost three dollars a night.

To bring his prize-winning history of the American Volunteer Group up to date, Daniel Ford has drawn on the most recent U.S., British, and Japanese scholarship, providing new information about the Tigers,…


Book cover of Into the Teeth of the Tiger

Carl Molesworth Author Of Flying Tiger Ace: The story of Bill Reed, China’s Shining Mark

From my list on the Air War in the China-Burma-India Theater during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

Carl Molesworth’s interest in China and the Far East dates back to childhood memories of stories told by his mother and grandmother of their experiences living in China during the 1920s. He acquired his interest in aviation from his father. Carl began researching the air war in the China-Burma-India Theater while working as a newspaper editor in the late 1970s and published his first book on the subject, Wing To Wing – Air Combat in China 1943-45, in 1990. Of his 14 subsequent books, nine have covered various aspects of air combat in the CBI.

Carl's book list on the Air War in the China-Burma-India Theater during WWII

Carl Molesworth Why did Carl love this book?

When I met Don Lopez in the late 1970s while he was the deputy director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, I was interviewing him for a magazine article about his exploits as a fighter ace in China during World War II. The intelligence, graciousness and sense of humor I noted that day come through loud and clear in this memoir published in 1997. In contrast to the rest of the books I’m highlighting here, Lopez provides a vivid, first-hand account of what it was like to actually do the fighting in the skies over China, 1943-45. A terrific storyteller, he goes beyond descriptions of exciting air battles to explain the emotional highs and lows he experienced as his personal successes and those of his fellow pilots in the air failed to blunt the major enemy offensive that was underway on the ground at that time.

By Donald S. Lopez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Into the Teeth of the Tiger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Into the Teeth of the Tiger provides a vivid, pilot’s-eye view of one of the most extended projections of American air power in World War II Asia. Lopez chronicles every aspect of fighter combat in that theater: harrowing aerial battles, interludes of boredom and inactivity, instances of courage and cowardice. Describing different pilots’ roles in each type of mission, the operation of the P-40, and the use of various weapons, he tells how he and his fellow pilots faced not only constant danger but also the munitions shortages, poor food, and rat-infested barracks of a remote sector of the war.…


Book cover of Lady Icarus: The Life of Irish Aviator Lady Mary Heath

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Author Of Bird

From my list on pioneering aviation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for flying old aeroplanes led me to the pilots who flew them in history, and my particular fascination is with the interwar period and the ‘Golden Age of Aviation’, which saw the establishment of the early commercial air routes and the historic solo flights by pilots flying basic machines and pushing themselves and their aircraft to the very limits of endurance to prove that it could be done. I was absolutely mesmerised by the stories of their bravery and obsession. My recommended books all share the theme of pioneering aviation as this has been a consuming interest for much of my adult life, both in and out of the cockpit. 

Tracey's book list on pioneering aviation

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Why did Tracey love this book?

This is about one of our most brilliant female aviators. 

Largely forgotten today, the Irish Lady Heath, one of our first female Olympians and the first woman in Britain to hold a commercial pilot’s licence, was also the first person to fly solo from Cape Town to England in 1928. 

Her flight was the inspiration for my first expedition up Africa in 2013, about which we made a documentary screened by the BBC, and this book is the moving story of Mary Heath’s exceptional but ultimately tragic life.

By Lindie Naughton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lady Icarus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Trophy

Stefan Vučak Author Of F/X-26

From my list on military aviation and its effect on the modern political era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had an interest in military aviation and the impact this had on US and world geopolitics since my college days, and devoured these books at the university library. Once I started my professional career and could afford to buy my own, my library of techno thrillers grew. This reading enriched my knowledge, entertained, and provided ideas for writing my own books. As a book reviewer for Readers’ Favorite, I try to pick – among other genre – works that deal with this theme.

Stefan's book list on military aviation and its effect on the modern political era

Stefan Vučak Why did Stefan love this book?

I was inexorably drawn into this book, as it fulfilled all my expectations of what a good military aviation techno-thriller should be. It had excellent flying sequences, personal drama, some romance thrown in to add flavor, and rivalry with another skilled pilot.

When I come across such a book, I don’t let go, and I did not let go of this one. It opened an enthralling world into what it takes to teach fighter tactics to already experienced pilots, told from a totally entertaining viewpoint that never descended into dull narrative. I loved the flying sequences, making me believe I was there in the cockpit with the pilot.

By Julian Jay Savarin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Trophy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book description to come.


Book cover of Fate is the Hunter: A Pilot's Memoir

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Author Of Bird

From my list on pioneering aviation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for flying old aeroplanes led me to the pilots who flew them in history, and my particular fascination is with the interwar period and the ‘Golden Age of Aviation’, which saw the establishment of the early commercial air routes and the historic solo flights by pilots flying basic machines and pushing themselves and their aircraft to the very limits of endurance to prove that it could be done. I was absolutely mesmerised by the stories of their bravery and obsession. My recommended books all share the theme of pioneering aviation as this has been a consuming interest for much of my adult life, both in and out of the cockpit. 

Tracey's book list on pioneering aviation

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Why did Tracey love this book?

First published in 1961, this memoir may be the best book ever written about aviation by someone who was both a pilot and a terrific writer. 

I took the liberty of using this title as the heading for one of the chapters in my own book as a tribute to Gann. His visceral accounts of flying the early airliners in America during the 1930s in the burgeoning years of commercial aviation are literally heart-stopping. 

We take so much for granted in this modern age of airline flying but this wonderful book will forever change your perspective of the risks and challenges that went before.  

By Ernest K. Gann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fate is the Hunter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ernest K. Gann’s classic pilot's memoir is an up-close and thrilling account of the treacherous early days of commercial aviation. “Few writers have ever drawn readers so intimately into the shielded sanctum of the cockpit, and it is hear that Mr. Gann is truly the artist” (The New York Times Book Review).

“A splendid and many-faceted personal memoir that is not only one man’s story but the story, in essence, of all men who fly” (Chicago Tribune). In his inimitable style, Gann brings you right into the cockpit, recounting both the triumphs and terrors of pilots who flew when flying…