A new company showed up at Sun ‘n Fun this year, promoting a pair of clean sheet flight bag designs made specifically for pilots flying with the iPad. Flight Outfitters, a functional bag company founded by a pilot, says they have the right blend of features, size and price for modern pilots. The flight bag market is certainly crowded, but there is a lot to like about of these bags.
Flight Outfitters’ first design is called the Lift. This compact, square-shaped bag has the iPad as its center, with a padded pocket for your tablet surrounded by other pockets. On either side are full-zip pockets to organize most of your accessories. We found one side to be perfect for storing a headset, complete with handy AA battery storage loops. The other side has multiple mesh pockets, which was great for keeping our iPad cords, ADS-B receiver cords, keys and other small accessories in one place. The fold-out style is handy in the airplane, especially if you’re flying single pilot and have the flight bag on the right seat – you can open only the pocket you need, and grab your gear with one hand.
There are some external pockets as well, including slots that work well for flashlights, fuel testers, a water bottle and even backup paper charts (oh the horror!). The Lift has braided steel-reinforced carrying handles and a removable shoulder strap. It is available for $99.95 and will be available to ship in June.
The Thrust bag is something totally different. It’s best described as a sling pack, halfway between a backpack and a messenger bag. It probably won’t be right for every pilot, but we liked it a lot in our testing at Sun ‘n Fun. It’s convenient to sling it over your shoulder and keep your hands free, but it’s much smaller than an oversized hiking backpack. It fits nicely in the cockpit – even between the seats on some airplanes. The shoulder strap can be attached to either the left or right corner of the bag, so it’s adjustable for either shoulder.
The bag itself has a large, padded pocket for your headset, a small pouch for sunglasses, pens or keys, and an organizer flap on the outside. There’s also a full-depth pocket that fits your iPad or even a laptop computer, and it includes multiple mesh pockets for containing cords and charging plugs. The Thrust is available for $79.95 and will also ship in June.
We think these bags, while not cheap, are very well made and have a sophisticated, modern style. The bright orange interior, which the company says is inspired by the liner of the classic MA-1 flight jacket, does make it easy to find items in the dark. Look for a full pilot report when we have a chance to fly with these bags later this summer.