When preparing for flight training, it can be hard to know exactly which pilot accessories are really necessary and which are simply items you’d like to have, but don’t need.
You can easily end up spending a lot of money on pilot gear (when you are already spending a lot on flying!) so make sure you think about what purchases are really necessary and where you can get the best value.
These pilot accessories are our must-haves for any pilot in training.
1. Flight bag or case
It’s an iconic and essential accessory. The perfect flight bag will be different for every pilot. You might be happy to have a small case which holds your headset, with a pocket on the side for notepads and pens. Or all the way with a huge bag capable of holding all equipment like your maps, headset, kneeboard and logbook.
If you’re in the market for a small briefcase style bag, we recommend the stylish Samsonite Openroad Bailhandle. If it’s a larger case you’re after try out this Karabar or the more expensive Wenger. For those going more upmarket, check out the Mont Blanc range.
Having an iPad or tablet as a pilot or pilot in training is now a game changer. You can store a variety of essential software and apps for flying such as sectional charts that update automatically and navigation apps, as well as your learning materials for theoretical knowledge training.
A charging cord and backup battery is also essential. It’s a good idea to pick up a battery that’s strong enough to charge your iPad a few times, just in case.
When flying, it can also be a good idea to keep a hardcopy set of sectional charts as a backup in case anything ever happens with your ipad.
3. Non-polarised Sunglasses
No pilot is complete without a pair of sunglasses (aviator style not essential). Sunglasses provide vital protection for your eyes when exposed to direct sunlight when you’re among the clouds and can help reduce glare at times when you’re looking for other aircraft and navigation points.
A good pair of pilot sunglasses should have a large lens so that a full field of view is covered. Avoid polarized lenses as they can make reading instruments more tricky.
Bigatmo sunglasses are specially designed for Pilots or you can of course go more main with the Rayban Aviators.
When you’re flight training, we find its really handy to have a kneeboard which can attach an iPad or other tablet to your knee for your charts and other navigation aids. The best options also have space for your logbook, charts and note taking.
Amazon has a great variety available.
During flying training, you will likely have to deal with a selection of worn out headsets at your school - take the opportunity to invest in your own headset to keep with you throughout your training and even on to the line as an airline pilot. Once you’ve bought a decent headset of your own, you’ll notice a big difference in comfort and clarity!
More expensive headsets will include noise reduction features and higher quality microphones. Decide what is most important to you before buying and your budget and this will help narrow down your options.
There is a great range available from a variety of online specialist flight stores and of course, Amazon, ranging in price from £100 to £1,000+ but many of the mid-range headsets from good manufacturers will be all that you need. It is best to seek advice from your airline or training school before you buy your headset to ensure they allow the model you are after. Investigating the range by Bose or David Clark will be a good place to start.
6. Motion camera and mounting kit
If you are like us, you will have seen and been inspired by the abundance of fantastic videos available online taken by pilots flying a range of light and commercial aircraft - from aerobatic to airbus.
It can be really rewarding to take footage of your flights (of course when it is safe to do so), to enjoy afterwards and to bore your friends with! You could even be super-diligent and use it critique your landing technique.
The obvious choice is aGoPro HD camera which are the benchmark standard for quality motion video. They are now widely available in a few models and you can secure them inside the cockpit, or even on the exterior of the aircraft - most importantly you’ll need to ensure you buy the correct mounts to go with them.
There are many other motion cameras for pilots. Some are quite cheap, whilst others are more expensive than GoPro. We advise browsing Amazon and reading the reviews to get a reliable idea of what you are looking for.
(Last but not least, no pilot is complete without their logbook.
We’re not just biased, but in fact pilots are required to maintain a logbook, per their government's aviation regulations. Maintaining a logbook during pilot training is especially important as you’ll need to physically show that certain flying hours have been met for a certificate or rating, and for currency and to have it checked and signed by your instructors to be issued with your commercial pilot licence. You can read more here about how to log for a variety of licences. (add link).
The best logbooks are compact, durable and cover you for a good few years of flying, and they should include dedicated space for logging simulator time as well as for listing your licences and ratings that you achieve along the way.
Aileron’s handcrafted leather bound pilot logbooks are not only built to last, but provide entries for up to 1600 flights mean your first Logbook will mark all of your key achievements such as, first solo, CPL test, IR test and even to the point of obtaining your ATPL.
You can select from a range of classic colours and, uniquely, they are yours to personalise with a name or initials.
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Just getting started on your journey to becoming a pilot? Check out our guide to MPL vs ATPL licences to find out which is better, or for those just joining an airline, our guide to preparing for line training.
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