Pilots often keep a lot of equipment on hand with them when they climb into the cockpit. From kneeboards to charts, flight computers and global positioning systems, there’s a lot you can buy and a lot you have to keep track of. Especially if you’re new to flying, the temptation is there to cut costs as much as you can and spend the bare minimum on each individual item. That can work with some pieces of equipment, but there are definitely things you want to sink some money into if you have it. We’ve rounded up three pieces of equipment you should definitely put aside a little bit extra for. Read on to find out more.
One or two dependable, easy to read portable GPS devices are a must-have for any pilot. Whether you’re authorised to operate under instrument flight rules or not, having multiple ways to pinpoint your position is essential for safe, efficient navigation.
There are dozens of brands of GPS available on the market, each with their own strengths and weakness, their own operating systems and their own feature-sets. If you’re looking for a new unit, it’s important to keep in mind the type of flying you’ll be doing, and the type you hope to be doing. For example, if you’re currently only doing short flights but are considering longer trips, maybe buy one with a longer battery life.
Spending more on a GPS can get you some near-essential upgrades such as a larger screen, or an automated flight log that records your previous trips for easy future reference. More expensive devices can also offer other value-added features such as airport diagrams or free map updates.
Here it’s all about comfort. While more expensive headsets do often offer more advanced methods of noise attenuation, the single largest advantage a more expensive headset offers over a budget model is how comfortable it is to wear on long-haul flights. If you don’t want to be walking away from the cockpit with a headache and sore ears, consider spending that little bit more at the shop.
More expensive models can also offer better quality headphone drivers to improve the quality of the received sound, making them ideal for anyone who loves to listen to music in the cockpit.
Electronic flight bag
The days of the filing cabinet in a bag are long gone. Most modern pilots eschew the traditional flight bag loaded down with charts, guides and manuals and choose instead to opt for what’s referred to as an electronic flight bag. These are high-tech information management systems allowing you to rapidly reference everything from airport weather, trip wind information, flight plans and airfield directories all in a convenient size. Available as both standalone devices and as subscription-based apps for tablets, they’re an invaluable tool that’s worth the extra money. Compare the different services and devices and think carefully about how much you could afford to spend, because here every dollar will count.