Your Personal Required Equipment List – 7 Must Have Items

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADuring your training you’ll learn what aircraft equipment is required for flight, starting with what the FAA requires for certification. This information is outlined in FAR 91.205 and includes items such as airspeed indicator, fuel gauges, and engine instruments. The equipment is broken down into VFR flight for day and night as well as for IFR flight. You’ll also study what the aircraft manufacturer requires for specific operations which is outlined in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook – it’s referred to as the required equipment list. In theory, your required equipment is what is needed to stay legal and safe.

19517aBut what about your personal equipment?  I can’t think of anyone that has hopped in their airplane and flown 500 miles with no personal gear to help along the way. When is the last time you went flying without a headset?  Do you still feel comfortable going long distances into unknown territory without a moving map GPS?

This is why I suggest creating your own required equipment list.  It can be done very easily.  Start by dumping out your flight bag on the kitchen table and make a list of the items you must have in order to complete a 500 mile cross country in severe clear weather.  If you fly IFR, your list might include a few more items.  Here are my top 7 MUST HAVE items before walking to the airplane.

  1. Headset.  This is a no brainer.  No headset, no go.  Next time you’re taking a trip around the patch, take your headset off for a few minutes.  I can’t imagine four hours without one.

  2. Sunglasses.  Taking off into a rising sun in winter is painful.  Without a decent pair of sunglasses, you might as well be flying IFR for the next two minutes.  A good pair of sunglasses really improves visibility on bright days.

  3. Flashlight.  “But I don’t fly at night?” It doesn’t matter.  You may still need a flashlight for looking under the engine cowling. The one time your flight runs a little late will leave you wishing you had one instead of using your cell phone. If your ANR headset uses AA batteries, I recommend using a flashlight that uses the same. You’ll have an emergency pair of batteries in the flashlight.

  4. iPad with GPS.  Let’s face it, navigation without a moving map is like buying a home without indoor plumbing. The simplicity of iPad apps like ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot is light years ahead of trying to listen to the morse code ID over a nav radio.  Yes you should know how to use the VOR system, but let’s embrace technology and use the modern conveniences when available.

  5. Multitool.  It’s the “get out of jail free” card.  Get a decent one and keep it in your flight bag.  There are so many small things that can be done in a pinch with a multitool.  Tighten a nut, fix a cowl screw, skin a fish…

  6. Fuel Tester.  It’s part of preflight and no flight bag is complete without one.

  7. Sectional chart.  In all the years I’ve been flying with an iPad, I’ve never had it go dark.  But what if it did?  A $9 chart is a great insurance policy, and it’s usually valid for six months so it will last you a long time.

19515aI left this vague, allowing you to pick and choose which brand fits your flying best.  Interested in what I use?  Here is the gear in my bag:

  1. Headset: Clarity Aloft.  If you can get over the fact that you are wearing expensive ear plugs, this headset is great for oversized heads like mine.  No pinching and no headset head after a four hour flight.

  2. Sunglasses: Serengeti Velocity.  I like the clarity, the look and the comfort.  All around great pair of shades.

  3. Flashlight: Smith and Wesson Captain’s Flashlight. This light features red and white light, and is built like a tank.

  4. iPad with GPS: iPad Air and Stratus 1.  The iPad Air is light, fast and big.  The Stratus 1 provides a highly accurate GPS and weather data.  I’m using ForeFlight on the iPad.

  5. Multitool: Clip-on Multi Tool.  This great little guy is cheap, and hangs on the outside for easy access.

  6. Fuel Tester: Sporty’s Heavy Duty Fuel Tester.  I like the splash shield.  I hate the smell of AvGas in the cockpit.

  7. Sectional Charts: Cincinnati and St. Louis.  Check your area.

Where do I keep all of these supplies?  In a Sporty’s Mission Flight Gear Bag.  Great size, small footprint, and the right amount of pockets for organization.