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A Few Things Every Pilot Should Have In Their Flight Bag

A pilots flight bag can be one of the most important tools they could have. But it’s not the bag that’s the tool..its what’s inside of it. So what are some of the most important items that a pilot should have in his or her flight bag? Here, I am going to go through what are arguably the five most important things a pilot should have in his or her flight bag.

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First, a good pilot will always have their own headset with them. This is important because this is how you can talk with ATC. And without talking to ATC, your not going to be able to fly! Also, if you have your own headset, you are not going to have to worry about who’s mouth was all over it last when renting it. (gross) It is also important to have a decent headset. If you do not buy a decent headset your most likely going to be more worried about your headset in the air then actually flying the plane. I would recommend buying an Active noise reduction (ANR) headset which uses state of the art noise reduction technology to make your flight more enjoyable.

Another important thing that all pilots should have in their flight bag is a kneeboard. This is an important tool to have in your flight bag because it is a stable platform that you can copy down any information that you might need. With a kneeboard, you won’t be picking up your notepad off of the ground every time you hit turbulence. Now, there are even kneeboard you can clip your iPad into! This allows you to use your iPad inflight as your primary source of navigation and your pen and paper! But if an Ipad kneeboard isn’t for you, and your going to use a regular kneeboard, always remember to have some paper to write with!

The next important thing to keep in your flight bag is current charts and diagrams. These are so important to always have handy because if and when you are ramped checked and you don’t have them, you could get some serious penalty. Also if you don’t have them and you don’t have a GPS how are you going to navigate with expired charts? Lots of pilots nowadays are using their Ipad as there current charts and diagrams and that is OK! The iPad is a perfectly legal primary source of navigation, but it is still smart to keep the old paper charts in the back seat incase the iPad encounters some difficulties.

Another important thing to always have in your flight bag is the Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) of the aircraft that you will be flying. This will contain the weight and balance of your aircraft, the checklists of your aircraft and other vital information that will have serious consequences if you do not have this during a ramp check. Also, without your checklists, you could miss something in your preflight or any other time where you use a checklist resulting in something to go wrong in flight. Your POH could be the most important set of documents that you could possibly carry with you in your flight bag.

Lastly open of the most important things to carry with you in your flight bag is some sort of first aid equipment. This could be a huge help to you while your in the air weather it’s an airsick passenger or a hypoxic passenger, being able to give some sort of first aid in the air is crucial. Think about it, if you are cruising at 10,000 ft and one of your passengers becomes hypoxic, and the nearest airport is 35 minutes away you having that first air equipment and you being able to give that passenger oxygen could be a life saver. Or if your aircraft has an engine failure and you need to land off airport,  if you have some basic first aid equipment, you will be able to assists in whatever kinds of cuts and bruises your passengers have before being helped out.

These are all very important things to have in your flight bag when flying. Without some of these things, you could get fined (POH, charts), or be left with injuries. There are many other things that should be carried in your flight bag but these are arguably the most important of all.

Jason Schappert is A Certified Flight Instructor author of 4 aviation flight training titles and the creator of the best selling Online Ground School. To learn more about Jason and his videos check out

6 Responses to “A Few Things Every Pilot Should Have In Their Flight Bag”

  1. As a flight instructor who knows of students who accidentally walked away with the aircraft-specific Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) in their flight bags, effectively grounding an airplane for the next person, I have to disagree with you.

    What I think you meant was that a pilot can benefit from carrying a copy of pilot's information manual (PIM) or similar book that is not the official AFM required to be onboard airplanes put into service after March 1, 1979.

    The AFM is the book with the airplane's serial number, specific weight and balance data, equipment list etc. The manual must legally be kept up-to-date by doing any required revisions. These books are expensive; a replacement AFM for a newer Cessna can cost upwards of $300.

    Unless you are the only person who ever flies the airplane, it's smart to leave the official airplane flight manual (AFM) in the airplane and carry an unofficial copy in your flight bag instead. If you walk away with the official book, the airplane is grounded until you put it back.

    Even if you're the only person who flies the airplane, if you forget the AFM at home, you're out of luck.

    No one will have to worry about a ramp check if the AFM is kept in the plane, and pilots use their separate reference materials.

    An "unofficial" (not necessarily updated) Pilot's Information Manual, or similar book (sometimes called an owner's manual, etc.) often costs around $30-$70. This type of book is a great reference for pilots to use at home, at the airport, or wherever else they need to look up data when away from the airplane. Pilots can easily pencil in their aircraft's specific weight and balance numbers. They can also scribble on, dog-ear, and highlight pages to their heart's content.

    Just remember that the official Airplane Flight Manual "has the final say."

  2. How about a handheld radio, extra pair of sunglasses, flashlight, plotter, pencils/pens extra keys to the plane in addition to the things listed above?

  3. I'm with Jim!
    I bring a flashlight for seeing and a bike blinky for signaling, some basic tools, first aid kit, energy bars, a jacket, gloves, compass, and about 1/2 gallon of water, in addition to charts, etc. If I have to put down somewhere, and I don't get aced out on landing, I'm tryna be as prepared as possible :)

  4. A headset?! Really?! I can't believe a CFI is suggesting a headset is a top five bag item. That would be in my bottom five. Call me old school but I would rather have charts, a whizz wheel, flashlight, batteries, and extra pencils in my bag before I ever worry about a headset.

    Aviate, navigate, communicate. In that order.

  5. Sattelite phone or personal locater beacon, H20 and some trail mix!

  6. It's very simple to find out any topic on web as compared to books, as I found this article at this website.

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