What’s in your flight bag? A student pilot’s perspective

4 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 Bret Koebbe, CFI and editor at iPad Pilot News, carries on his typical flights. Today we’ll hear from J.C. Mayerle, student pilot and electronics geek, to see what make made the cut and what was cut loose from the flight bag.

J.C. Mayerle

J.C. Mayerle, student pilot

Name: J.C. Mayerle

Airplane: Cessna 172 LITE

Type of flying: Training with my instructor and riding jump seat in a locally-based Citation when the opportunity presents itself.

iPad model: iPad Mini 3, WiFi only, 32GB

I’m a recent college graduate from the University of Cincinnati. My days as a student have forced me to adopt a minimalist attitude when it comes to my daily pack. I spent too many semesters being a pack mule around campus; therefore my goal is carry as little as I can get away with. Adopting technology and gear that suits more than one purpose is the goal. I wouldn’t say that it’s really about having less gear, it’s about having the right gear. When I preflight my flight bag at home I want to be able to see everything without emptying the bag or unzipping all the inner pockets. I carry what I need and not much else.

Thankfully the iPad has taken the majority of the weight from books out of my pack. If there’s an online version of a book or course you can count me in, not to mention that the online versions tend to be more current since you can update periodically. I also like gear that keeps me organized when flying- I’ve got too much else to focus on so I don’t want 10 different gizmos taking up space. Now I’m just a newbie pilot but after a little over 40 hours of flying I’ve figured out exactly what I like to carry on my lessons. So here’s what I need:

The iPad – The first item on the list is obviously my iPad, which was a given but it’s not the iPad itself, it’s what’s on the iPad. I’ve got 2 essential apps- ForeFlight and the Learn to Fly Course. ForeFlight is my go-to for weather briefings, sectional charts and GPS navigation. Without this app I’d be carrying way more weight in my bag and probably need a bigger one.

The Learn to Fly Course is available in an App or Online however I actually chose to go with the online version. I like using my laptop at home to study and I can still use the online version with my iPad just logging on normally in safari. It’s the best of both worlds. Having the Learn to fly course lets me study when I’m able, review the topics in today’s flight lesson and watch the maneuvers before I go try them in the plane.

iPad Mini Bifold Kneeboard – To keep my iPad Mini secure in flight I like the bifold kneeboard. I wear it on my left leg and let the right side lay across my lap. This creates a little working space to keep my notes and checklists handy in flight. Bonus on the kneeboard, it has extra storage pockets inside to store the small items like charging cables and pens.

David Clark DC Pro-X Headset – My requirements for a headset were ANR (active noise reduction), bluetooth interface for music and it had to be lightweight. The Pro-X fits that bill nicely. As an added benefit it is the smallest footprint I can find in a headset so my flight bag isn’t overwhelmed. My first headset was a hand-me-down H10-13.4, built like a tank and stands the test of time. I have confidence that my Pro-X will do the same.

Smith and Wesson Hands Free Flashlight – This flashlight fits all my requirements. It’s small, bright and serves two functions- red and white lights. I store it in an external pocket and when I need it the light is easily clipped onto my seat belt to illuminate the panel.

iPad Quick Case Flight Gear Bag – So to keep all my gear organized and mobile I’ve chosen the iPad quick case. It’s always open so I can see what I have and it fits my gear with just the right amount of pockets to limit me from carrying too much. In that bag I have a fuel tester, a few spare AA batteries, an E6B and my logbook in addition to what I’ve listed above. I’ve been carrying this bag for about 6 months to date and it’s doing just fine.

The more hours I rack up the more my needs may change. I’m sure it’ll be interesting to see what gear I lose and what remains standard equipment in a year or two. Let us know what you think down below in a comment about what you carry and what I should be carrying. Thanks for reading!

1 reply
  1. Bob
    Bob says:

    Bose X, iPad Air, Flashlight(s), pen(s), Licenses & medical, passport, GOES card, radio operators permit, checklists, iPhone, clipboard, coffee thermos, baseball cap, spare prescription glasses, lens cleaning cloth, Leatherman PS.

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