(This article was adapted from an email reply I recently sent to one of our software customers. I have expanded the content a bit and included links to the items mentioned. -- Darren)
The airplane costs for IFR training is expensive enough without having to pour a lot of money into training supplies as well. Here is a short list of inexpensive items that I thought were especially beneficial during my own training, in no particular order.
1. Rod Machado's Instrument Pilot Survival Manual -- This book has one of the best chapters on instrument scan I've seen; It's the method I chose to use in my own training and flying. The contents are very practical; this is not so much a student text but instead it has lots of real-world tips you'll use AFTER you pass the exam too.
2. PIC Instrument Flight Training Manual ("The PIC Book") -- The PIC IFR school's textbook (the folks who advertise the 14-day IFR courses). Nicely written, aimed at the student with loads of practical information. If you only get one textbook, this should probably be it. The text is aimed at the practical flying more than the written, but it certainly has lots of information relevant to the written exam as well.
3. A good IFR hood you can live with. I wear glasses, and used ASA's new "clip-on" ASA OverCasters that attaches to your glasses and can be flipped up or down easily. For glasses wearers, I'd say this is the best option, plus it fits in the glove box easily! If you don't wear glasses (even sunglasses...), you have a lot more options available that are comfortable and easy to deal with. You're going to be spending a lot of hours under stressful conditions wearing it, so get one that feels good to you.
4. A good knowledge exam study guide, or study software such as our DSSTest (available for Windows, Pocket PC or PalmOS).
5. Decent charts. In the past, Jeppesen charts had a lot more of the information you need on a single page, but in the past few years NOS charts have been significantly restructured and are now a useful alternative with an easier price tag for occasional use. Pick the layout you find easiest to follow, then get the same charts as a student that you plan to use after you get your ticket; don't practice on one then switch to another later, in tough conditions you want things to be as much like your training as possible.
- Darren DeLoach (5/8/01)