By: Steven Daun, National Chief Pilot
Every few years, we write an article about what different pilots have or should have in their flight bags. As I looked over some of these past articles, I was amused at how the contents continued to shrink based on technology and new tools.
Gone are the days of the Jepp charts. Sitting at home one day per month updating your subscriptions and then lugging around 5 lbs of paper charts. Gone too are the big bulky and heavy headsets. Today’s headsets fold into a nice origami shape that takes up about as much room as a cell phone.
New to the flight bags are portable batteries and various cables for charging and connectivity. After that are essential items such as gum, mints, pens, iPads, and other multipurpose technological devices.
Old flight bags resembled modern-day suitcases but only heavier. All those charts and aircraft manuals meant that you needed to work out daily to carry them. Yes, flight bags have been reduced in size from suitcases to backpacks to small bags for your essential items.
So, what else should you have if you are flying a non-commercial aircraft? As you know, there are no constants in aviation, everything is constantly changing, and you need to be prepared for those changes. Current charts are always a good idea in case your tablet fails. Plotters, pencils, and an E6B are also good ideas to have with you. Don’t forget the ever-important kneeboard, and you should also make sure that you have some notepaper.
Various tools are nice to have on trips, such as flashlights, pocket knives, screwdrivers, and if you are flying airplanes with “glass” avionics, you will want to have a pair of non-polarized sunglasses.
The prices on handheld radios have come down, and it is always a good idea, if possible, to keep one of these in your flight bag.
It is always a good idea to keep some type of snack bar and water bottle in your bag as well.
When selecting a flight bag, make sure that there are ample places to store everything. You should have a good idea of where everything is so that if you need something, you can reach in and retrieve it without too much effort.