Top iPad accessories for pilots – 2021 gear roundup
The iPad makes a great all-in-one cockpit tool, combining maps, flight planning, weather, documents, and so much more. That doesn’t mean it stands on its own, though. A few carefully chosen accessories can make it so much more powerful and easy-to-use. Here’s our updated list of the accessories you should consider, and our top recommendations.
Practically an essential for iPad pilots who fly cross country or IFR, these all-in-one portable receivers deliver a wealth of data to your iPad: subscription-free weather, traffic, GPS, and backup attitude. Some add flight data recording, carbon monoxide detection, and pressure altitude. Best of all, they’re battery-powered and require just a single button push to operate. Like a good ANR headset, an ADS-B receiver quickly pays back the initial investment.
Top Choice: ForeFlight Sentry
Why it’s the best: The Sentry packs a lot of features into a small size, and all for under $500. Sentry includes ADS-B weather (with a 30-minute replay), dual-band traffic, a carbon monoxide detector, and a built-in AHRS to drive ForeFlight’s synthetic vision. We particularly like the 12-hour battery life, which allows you to fly all day without wires.
On a budget: ForeFlight Sentry Mini
Want to learn more? Check out our portable weather receiver buyer’s guide.
If you don’t need all the bells and whistles of an ADS-B receiver, a standalone GPS is a great value. It will drive the moving maps in your aviation app and give you essential navigation data like groundspeed, track across the ground, and time to destination.
Top Choice: Bad Elf Pro+
Why it’s the best: Bad Elf’s flagship GPS is well made and has a number of great features: an incredible 35-hour battery life, handy built-in screen, altimeter, and the ability to connect to multiple devices.
On a budget: Dual XGPS150A
Want to learn more? Check out our iPad GPS buyer’s guide.
Flight bags have evolved considerably over the past 10 years, featuring a smaller footprint with well-thought out pockets to keep your electronic gadgets organized and secure. They’re also more stylish. A good one can protect and organize your iPad, mount/kneeboard, charging cords, headset, and more.
Top Choice: Flight Outfitters Lift
Why it’s the best: This compact, square-shaped bag features a padded center pocket for your iPad, surrounded by additional side pockets for a headset or smaller iPad accessories. 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.
On a budget: Flight Gear Tailwind Backpack
Securing your iPad in the cockpit is important for safety and for ease of use. There are two main options for this: a kneeboard or a mounting system. Kneeboards are generally more affordable, and offer additional storage pockets. They’re ideal for renters or flying club members.
Top Choice: MyClip Multi
Why it’s the best: This simple leg strap doesn’t take up much space in the cockpit, but holds your iPad firmly in place. The ingenious attachment mechanism fits a huge variety of tablets, with or without a case. It just works.
On a budget: Flight Gear iPad Kneeboard
If a kneeboard doesn’t work in your airplane, a mount is a great alternative. There are lots of options here, from suction cup mounts for side windows to yoke mounts. There are plenty of brands offering mounts, and most of them are quite good, but there are significant differences between them to consider.
Top Choice: RAM Suction Cup Mount
Why it’s the best: RAM Mounts have a great reputation for quality and flexibility, allowing pilots to mount an iPad almost anywhere. The EZ-Roll’r cradle holds the tablet tight, and the mount features a lifetime warranty. We’ve been flying with them for over a decade.
On a budget: Robust Suction Cup Mount
Most of the (very rare) issues we’ve had with the iPad have been due to running out of battery. So it’s only smart to have a backup for those days when you fly longer than expected or forget to charge your iPad. Fortunately, there are more options than ever. Just be sure to get something with a 2 amp charging port.
Top Choice: Flight Gear Battery Pack
Why it’s the best: The first backup battery that checks all the boxes. It features four high amp charging ports so it can power an iPad and an ADS-B receiver at the same time. Its 20,000 mAh capacity will last the whole flight, and it can be recharged with a Lightning, USB-C, or micro-USB cable. It’s like a Swiss Army Knife for your electronic devices.
On a budget: Flight Gear dual USB cigarette lighter charger
Not everyone likes screen protectors, since they can distort the screen slightly. But for pilots who use their iPads hard, it makes sense to give that big chunk of glass a little extra protection from scratches, drops and fingerprints. Some will cut down on screen glare too.
Top Choice: MyGoFlight ArmorGlas
Why it’s the best: These screen protectors aren’t flimsy sheets of plastic that are impossible to put on; instead, they’re made from tempered glass. They are much easier to apply, they don’t affect the touchscreen performance, and they even reduce screen glare by a bit.
What else is on your list for iPad accessories? Add a comment below.