There’s nothing more frustrating than not having the right tools when you need them. Don’t need a hammer? You have three. Need a hammer? Can’t find one anywhere. Having the right essentials at the right time makes life easier and more enjoyable. The same goes for a pilot’s bag. So, what’s the pilot’s hammer equivalent? A well-packed pilot flight bag.
There are a few must-haves, and in some cases, also requirements.
• Pilot certificates identify who a pilot is and what they are authorized to fly.
• Medical certificates prove the medical capacity to operate an aircraft.
• Photo I.D. provides photo proof of pilot identification.
• Aeronautical charts, used for air navigation.
• Chart supplement lists FAA data on open-to-the-public air facilities.
• Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), electronic alternative for charts.
• iPad, used to provide electronic access to needed charts and data.
• A high-quality headset is a crucial addition to reduce ambient noise and aid in communication.
In addition to the basics needed to perform tasks, there are always tools that aren’t necessarily mandatory to complete the job but certainly make it go more smoothly.
Having somewhere to store everything is the most essential must-have of all. A great flight bag will have a rugged exterior, able to handle wear and tear. It will include a combination of a larger main storage compartment and many smaller pockets to organize essentials. Lightweight but durable, a quality flight bag is well worth the investment.
While the goal isn’t a Top Gun look-alike, a good pair of non-polarized sunglasses is imperative to protect the pilot’s eyes and prevent glare. If they also happen to provide a fashion statement, consider it a bonus.
All of those convenient electronics become a little less convenient without power. Chargers and batteries for added backup protection will be greatly appreciated when the light flashes “low battery.”
A flight kneeboard is another great organizational tool for pilots. A pilot’s kneeboard is a table of sorts that sits just above the knee area and provides a place for an iPad, or paper and pen if preferred, along with multiple pockets for keeping essential items in reach.
No one wants a hangry pilot. Keeping hydrated and a growling stomach at bay is reason enough to add water and snacks to the flight bag packing list.
There’s nothing like a bit of freshening up to make a pilot feel ready to tackle the world, or at least the skies. A change of clothes and a little freshen-up on long flight changeovers, does wonders!
It’s not a good idea to expose your eyes to bright lights just before a flight to help them adjust to dimmer lighting during flight. Using a flashlight during pre-flight checklists can help with this transition. The best flashlight will have several lighting settings.