Between iPads, iPhones, ADS-B receivers, and GoPros, there have never been more devices to keep charged in the cockpit. Some of these are mission critical (iPad) and some just have short battery lives (GoPro). A smart pilot will always fly with some type of backup power, whether it’s a cigarette lighter plug or a self-contained battery pack. We like to fly with both, actually.
Last year at Oshkosh 2018, Sporty’s introduced a handy battery pack that is specifically made for pilots. We loved it from the start and we’ve carried it on every flight for over a year. It has a huge capacity, flexible charging options, and helpful aviation reference information. The only (minor) complaint we had was its size – while perfect for an iPad and an ADS-B receiver, it was a little too big if you just wanted to charge your iPhone.
Now there’s a new option that addresses that need – the Small Flight Gear Backup Battery. This features the same pilot-friendly design, but at roughly half the size and half the price. The overall case measures 5.75” x 3 x 0.5” and weighs about half a pound. It’s almost exactly the same size as an iPhone X, the perfect size to take along on any trip. It will even fit back-to-back with your iPhone in a front pants pocket.
Like its big brother, this new battery pack has flexible charging options so you don’t have to carry a unique cable around just to keep it charged up.
Charge the battery pack with (IN):
- Micro-USB (popular plug for many Android smartphones and earlier GoPros)
- USB-C (found on iPad Pro models, plus Stratus and Sentry ADS-B receivers)
Charge your devices with (OUT):
- Dual USB-A plugs (the standard rectangular plug found on most iPad/iPhone wall plugs and most computers)
- One USB-C plug (the same one that can be used for charging the battery pack)
All three of these plugs are high amp output (2+ amps), so you can run two iPads or an iPad and a weather receiver at the same time. This is a minor point but a critical one – most cheap battery packs do not support multiple high amp devices.
The other important feature we look for in a battery pack for the cockpit is safety and reliability. We’ve flown dozens of flights with this battery pack and have never had interference with the onboard avionics. It also has a number of built in protections against:
- Temperature fluctuation
- Short-circuit protection