Teach Yourself to Fly was one of the first titles published in the Teach Yourself series. Written in 1938, on the eve of the Second World War, this book's main purpose was to prepare all short-service pilot recruits and conscripts before they were called for service. Recommended by the Air Ministry, this book was studied religiously by thousands of young men, some as young as 17. This wartime edition (1941) encapsulates the feeling of the time; the tone is endearing, inspiring, nostalgic and often humorous yet the seriousness of its purpose looms like a dark shadow above.
From the 1938 edition of Teach Yourself To Fly:
Your First Solo Flight will be made a great deal sooner if you study this book, for you can master the theory before you even come in contact with the 'plane. Straightforward statement and clear diagrams make its instruction easy to grasp. You can save your instructor's time and patience and that is A SERVICE TO YOUR COUNTRY.
The limitations of this book, as pointed out by the author, remain the same now as they were in 1938:
The title, 'Teach Yourself to Fly', I do not intend to be taken literally. However confident the reader may feel when he has reached the last page, it will not be advisable for him to go to an aerodrome and jump into a waiting aeroplane in the belief that he will be able to fly it. For he may have overlooked the direction in which you push the rudder-bar, as I did, or some equally important item. And no aeroplane-owner exactly welcomes the man who cracks his aeroplane up for him.
In 2008 Teach Yourself will celebrate its 70th anniversary. As part of our plans to commemorate this publishing phenomenon, we will publish four facsimiles of some of our quirkiest and classic titles. Each of these facsimiles will look and feel exactly like the originals; hardback, dust-jacket, end papers. They will be beautiful (and very competitively priced) little books.