What’s in your flight bag? Another pilot’s perspective

3 min read

This is part of a series where we ask different pilots what they carry when they fly with an iPad. Previously we took a look at what John Zimmerman, publisher of iPad Pilot News, carries on his typical flights. Today we’ll hear from Bret Koebbe, CFI and editor at iPad Pilot News, to see what makes up his list of essential flight gear.

Bret Koebbe, editor iPad Pilot News

Bret Koebbe, editor iPad Pilot News

Name: Bret Koebbe
Airplane(s): Cessna 172, Piper Aztec, Cessna Citation
Type of flying: Local training flights, long-range IFR flights
iPad model: iPad Air, WiFi only, 64GB

When I started flying 15 years ago I needed the biggest flight bag I could find to help lug around the piles of aviation training books, oversized flashlights, headsets, fuel testers, foggles, etc. As my flying missions evolved over the years I started relying on two separate flight bags, each equipped for the different type of flying.

I had a small headset bag I used when flight instructing that carried just the essentials, and then a larger bag for the corporate flights with stacks of approach charts, multiple flashlights and a large metal clipboard to keep the airplane’s paperwork and records organized and protected.

What’s interesting though is that after going paperless with the iPad 5 years ago I found that I was able to reassess and transition back to one flight bag again, that contained everything I needed for both types of flying. The iPad eliminated the need for paper charts, clipboards and handheld flight computers. And thanks to LED bulb technology the flashlights got much smaller (and brighter) too. Here’s what I carry with me now:

  • Flight Outfitters Lift Bag – this bag is just the right size to hold a headset, iPad and all the accessories I need. The accessory pockets protect my ADS-B receiver and Garmin VIRB camera and include separate mesh sleeves to store charging cables. And the black and orange color scheme looks sharp too.
  • Slimline kneeboard for iPad Air – working for iPad Pilot News I’ve tried just about every iPad kneeboard on the market, but I keep going back to the simplicity of this slimline kneeboard for daily use. It’s lightweight, fits well in every airplane I fly and allows me to use the iPad in both landscape and portrait orientations.
  • MyGoFlight ArmorGlass – One of the biggest weaknesses of the iPad is the glare produced from its highly-reflective glass screen. While there is no miracle cure for this, the ArmorGlass screen protector does this best job I’ve seen yet at improving sunlight readability. It also significantly reduces fingerprint smudges on the screen.
  • Stratus 2S ADS-B receiver – We fly a lot of our longer trips during the summertime thunderstorm season, and having Stratus display nationwide radar imagery on the iPad allows us to plan long-range deviations around bad weather well before seeing the first buildup.
  • Professional backup battery – only one of the airplanes I fly has a 12v cigarette lighter port, so I make sure to bring this battery fully-charged on every flight. It can recharge an iPad several times, and it’s first battery I’ve found too that includes both two 2.4 amp and two 1 amp USB charging ports.
  • Smith & Wesson Captain’s flashlight – while the FARs require us to carry a D-cell battery on the Citation, this smaller LED light ends up being much more practical for everyday use. Its bright LED bulbs are perfect for performing exterior night preflights, and a separate switch allows you to turn on a much dimmer red light for in-cockpit use. It works great in the Skyhawk too.

Has the iPad caused you to change what you bring along in your flight bag too? Let us know in the comments below.

1 reply
  1. Cary Alburn
    Cary Alburn says:

    I’ve been looking for the ideal down-sized bag. For years, I’ve carried the biggest Sporty’s bag, because it was necessary to carry all of the approach plates for the Western US, in addition to the L charts. Now on long cross countries I’ll still carry some of the paper charts, but mostly I rely on my Mini with my iPhone as a backup. So I need less than half the size of the old bag, but in spite of looking at OSH quite a bit, I haven’t settled on one yet.

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