Flight bag

5 must have items for pilots starting college

3 min read

It’s that time of year. A new wave of aspiring professional aviators have moved into dorms as they begin their college journey destined for greatness in a booming aviation job market.  With typical college freshman jitters and many unknowns, we’re happy to offer hundreds of consultations here at Sporty’s throughout the summer and into the fall for students and parents alike inquiring as to the must-have equipment.

After running down the list of obvious questions most college freshman have, the talk often turns towards gear. What does a college student pilot need to command the skies?  

The pilots at Sporty’s have put together this list of items that all of our students need. And you may even consider an early Christmas gift or two.

  1. Headset

Gone are the days of using a handheld microphone and a 1934 speaker to communicate on the radio. A headset is a MUST-HAVE.  Some schools might allow students to borrow one for a few lessons;others might a rental program. It’s much like bowling shoes:f you do it enough, you really need to have your own. Headsets start at $100 and climb up to over $1000.  You really do get what you pay for, so stay away from the inexpensive house brands.


  1. Books

There are several books that will most likely be required for flight training.  They are published by the FAA and not too expensive. It’s a good idea to get these early so they can get off on the right foot with a solid aviation knowledge foundation.

Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge

Airplane Flying Handbook 

Aviation Weather

FAR/AIM (Federal Aviation Regulations)


  1. Training Course

While their college classes will certainly teach them what they need to know, an at-home training course will give them an edge over their classmates and a good real-world perspective. Sporty’s Learn To Fly Course will have them impressing their professors and flight instructors. This course was designed by Sporty’s Academy and is used by a number of Colleges, Universities and training academies.  



  1. Flight Bag

Much like a fisherman needs a tackle box, a pilot needs a flight bag. This is where they will store all of their gear, some of which is on this list. The most popular student pilot bag is Sporty’s Crosswind Flight Gear HP bag. It has plenty of room for gear, and can be embroidered with your flight student’s name. Try to stay away from a standard, inexpensive gym bag. It probably won’t hold up to the abuse of flight training and won’t have the protection needed for sensitive pilot gear. 


  1. E6B Flight Computer

Aviation is full of calculations and conversions.  Fahrenheit to Celsius, pounds of fuel to gallons, top of descent, ground speed, density altitudes… all of these are performed by a special calculator known as an E6B. Some archaic schools still believe in cruel and unusual punishment and will teach the old, aluminum whiz wheel style E6B. Most schools will allow you to use the electronic type. These are also permitted on the FAA written test so it is worth picking one up. 

Many of these acquisitions will be good, long-term investments and valuable tools to be used throughout the college experience.

Best wishes for your success in this exciting new aviation journey.