Essential Gear for Student Pilot

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Amkestrel, Nov 12, 2017.

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  1. Amkestrel

    Amkestrel Filing Flight Plan

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    Im a student pilot - actually, have taken some ground school, but first flight training is this coming week.

    Not that I’ll need much right away, but what do some of the more experienced folks here consider “essential gear” for a student pilot?
     
  2. asicer

    asicer Pattern Altitude

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    Check refills for your checkbook. :)
     
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  3. Amkestrel

    Amkestrel Filing Flight Plan

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    Yes, that seems to be part and parcel. Actual advice?
     
  4. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude

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    Having your own headset is nice. Other than that, I used a notebook to jot notes and for my own debrief/critique which helped me focus on areas I needed improvement on. Otherwise, just wait for your CFI to let you know what he or she expects you to buy or carry (e6b, sectionals, tablet/iPad, EFB app, hood, etc.).
     
  5. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    Welcome Amkestrel.!!

    Pretty much what I was going to say... I always used a pencil instead of a pen, and carried 2 or 3 in case one broke or I dropped one.
     
  6. Amkestrel

    Amkestrel Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks - do you guys use a kneepad?
     
  7. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    To be quite honest, that’s a good bit of actual advice. Take heed.
     
  8. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Purchase a .59c Mead notebook. Kneepad done!
     
  9. Evan Palumbo

    Evan Palumbo Filing Flight Plan

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    Looking back, I’d say the following were essential for me.
    Bag: just something to keep your crap in. Doesn’t have to be an expensive flight bag, I used an old backpack until well through my training.
    Headset: I got the Asa HS-1, gel ear pads and ear pad liners. $120 and they were comfortable enough. Don’t wait for your “forever” headset: they’re never forever anyways, you’ll need a set for your passengers, and it’s not worth the frustration of every set in the trainer being broken somehow. You’ll save a lot of headache by getting them now.
    The usual paper stuff: E6B, plotter, standard calculator, some charts, a pencil. Your instructor will give you more info about this.
    Foggles will be needed for at least 3 hours.
    Neutral colored, non-polarized sunglasses
    Flashlight, a good one with red and white LEDs
    Fuel tester. Doesn’t have to be a good one, but you’re going to be really bummed when you get out for a solo flight and the one in the trainer is missing.
    Gloves for preflight. You WILL bust your knuckles trying to get a dipstick out in the winter, and you will yell expletives. Learn from my mistakes.

    I’m a big iPad user, so that tops the list for me. I used ForeFlight on an Air 2. But if you’re buying, go with the pro and the pencil, much easier to handwrite notes with. I kept everything I used on my iPad but I guess it depends on the instructor. Mine didn’t really care as long as I could do it the paper way too.
    If you don’t have GPS built in, you’ll need something to do that. I built a Stratux box but there are many good GPS-only units out there.
    Kneeboard: I’ve used the Flight Outfitters and the Flight Gear HP ones and I like the Flight Gear better for all but the longest of my flights. Plus it’s cheaper and actually protects your iPad when it’s closed.

    That’s what I got through training with for the most part, with some additions/modifications for 20/20 hindsight.
     
  10. Amkestrel

    Amkestrel Filing Flight Plan

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    What do you recommend for the headset? Part of me knows that opens up another “checkbook” answer, but is there a brand/model in the cheap-to-moderate range that stands out?
     
  11. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Walking into the first day of flight training like...

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Evan Palumbo

    Evan Palumbo Filing Flight Plan

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    Having used several, I like the Lightspeeds, any model really. I now have the Tangos because my minor claustrophobia doesn’t kick in until I have a pile of wires on top of me.
    But on the other hand, you can get like 4 hours of lessons for what you’d pay for them. Any headset will be better than what’s currently in the trainer.

    Yeah that was me :)
     
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  13. Amkestrel

    Amkestrel Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks Evan!
     
  14. GRG55

    GRG55 En-Route

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    If you must buy a headset find a good used David Clark for a couple hundred dollars. Almost indestructible.
    Try to avoid buying anything other than your required books and instruments and a notebook until you've got some hours in.
     
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  15. Amkestrel

    Amkestrel Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks, I may have to look around.
    As to avoiding purchases, is that just to make sure it’s something I’ll continue with? Or for another reason?
     
  16. GRG55

    GRG55 En-Route

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    There's lots of trinkets we pilots can buy. Personal preference plays a big role. Expensive tablets and flight software are just one example (check out some of the threads on this forum debating those). You want to choose what's going to work for you...imo difficult to do if you have little actual cockpit time.

    Concentrate on learning to fly the plane first. Try out the stuff your fellow students are spending their lunch money on. See what you really need and like before you shell out $. There's no rush. The plane will fly fine.
     
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  17. Amkestrel

    Amkestrel Filing Flight Plan

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    Seems like sound advice...thanks
     
  18. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer Pattern Altitude

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    Hi Amkestrel,

    I'm a big fan of the Faro G2 headset. Great noise reduction, super comfortable and priced right at $350. So worth it to protect your hearing.
     
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  19. RDUPilot

    RDUPilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Huh??? What did you say??? :tongue:
     
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  20. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude

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    I bought a tri-fold midway through training when I started cross-countries. I no longer use the trifold function. The one thing it's still useful for now is the clipboard, pen holders, and thigh strap to hold that $0.59 Mead (@Ryanb) notepad which I use for writing down ATC instructions (keeps the notepad or loose taxi diagram from getting away...some people use a tablet/iPad).

    You don't need it early on. When you want one, someone on here would be glad to sell you theirs (that's how I got mine).
     
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  21. jsstevens

    jsstevens En-Route

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    Most important for headsets is how they fit _you_. If there’s any way to wrangle a test flight with what you’re considering, do it!

    eBay can be a real help. The set I use right now is an older set of Telex ANR. I bought 2 pairs for $60 off eBay. They use two 9V batteries each but I can buy a lot of 9V for the difference.
     
  22. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    Most of the headset makers offer a 30 day return policy. Everyone's head is different, what's comfortable for one person is agony for another. It's your head.

    Don't rush to buy stuff. Headset is critical. Wait for everything else until you decide you really need it. Trust us, you won't. Spend the money on lessons.
     
  23. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Only pilots who make mistakes carry pencils! Gheesh! ;)
     
  24. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This. You can find good deals on Craigslist and eBay, and @pigpenracing here on POA sells headsets. Consult w/ your CFI on what else to purchase. Don't go ordering everything that Sporty's and other suppliers sell as most is not needed.

    Don't be this guy:

    [​IMG]
     
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  25. jaymark6655

    jaymark6655 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    When I started my lessons, I started with nothing and then purchased items after I had an issue, learning experience, or need. If I remember I ended up buying the kneeboard first, followed by the headset. Everything else was stuff that I already owned, repurposed toward flying.
    -Headset: I bought a Pilot USA PA-1171T headset for my first pair, $145. I don't think I will ever use anything else, soft fake leather ear cups and head pad and a half metal, half flex boom for the mic. I prefer a flex boom, our club loaners almost always have metal booms and I had the screws fall out of one of the hinge. So my flight instructor was trying to reassembly my headset with a multi-tool while I just flew around. I hate gel ears, sometimes they pop or leak. I have seen it happen a lot and the person using them never notices until they put them on their head. I still use these headset and probably won't switch to anything else.
    -Multi-tool: Something with at least a normal size screw driver set and a small size screw driver set, because you never know when something will break. Also, make sure it has a knife, always carry a knife 24/7.
    -Kneeboard: Flyboys or something similar in design, $35. Doesn't seem important until your checklist goes flying (it actually just feel off my lap and slide a little) across the cockpit, under your instructors legs and he can't reach it. In it I carry my checklist on rings that clip into the board, a small pad of paper on the clipboard to copy radio transmissions, two mechanical pencils, and a mini-mag flashlight.
    -Light: Make sure it follows the requirements in the FARS, I use a mini-mag (fits in my kneeboard) and a Coleman LED head lamp that has red leds; its nice to have something hands free while flying instead of wrapping your mini-mag in electrical tape and holding it in your mouth.
    -Small bag: Just big enough to hold sectional, E6B, calculator, plotter, knee board and maybe headset so everything is in one spot when you get ready to go to the airport and nothing is blowing around or getting dropped while you walk across the ramp. Usually I take out just what I need for the flight, putting it in a side pocket within easy reach and put the bag somewhere it can be reached while flying. It might also be worth carrying a small survival kit, matches etc.
    I have yet to buy anything else for flying. Going into IFR, I might look into my own foggles and maybe a fuel sample stick since I could see showing up and there not being one in the plane. Not a big deal unless your flying after hours and you can't track down anyone with one and the other planes are out flying or stowed in a locked hanger.
     
  26. Eric Gleason

    Eric Gleason Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Less is more when you're a student pilot. Kneeboard, charts, plotter, flight computer, view limiting device, flashlight w/ red or amber filter, a bag to keep it all in, and maybe headsets. Go with the advice your instructor gives you on this stuff. There's no sense working against your instructor if they have strong opinions on what kinds of gear you should be learning with.

    Kneeboard: keep it simple to start. If you need all the do-dads you'll figure it out with experience, but I rarely see a pilot take advantage of them. Keep it on your lap with a pad so you can write down ATC instructions, etc. Eventually you'll learn when you need it and when you don't, but for now, keep it strapped to your leg.

    I still use a simple aluminum VFR clipboard. It's nice to have the flight plan form printed on it to follow when (if?) filing and briefing by phone.

    Here's a good one for $15: http://www.marvgolden.com/apr-p-vfr-pro-kneeboard.html

    Flight bag: Doesn't have to be fancy, but something made specifically for the task is sometimes better. I used a backpack when I was learning, but my dad got me a bag like this and it was an unexpected improvement. I went through a phase when I carried every possible thing and had a big 25 lb flight bag, but realized how silly it was and went back to this: http://www.marvgolden.com/asa-pilot-bag.html

    FlightComm and ASA both make good headsets on the cheap. I'd Start there and use that to determine what you want in a headset and how it fits. I wouldn't dive in and invest more than a couple of hundred until you've had more experience and know what suits you best.
     
  27. Ronbonjovi

    Ronbonjovi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm a student pilot with about 5 hours left to finish all my requirements. I have a regular old backpack I use for my flight bag. I bring it with everything that I may need every time I fly, but rarely pull more than my headset out unless I am on a XC flight. I splurged for a good headset though, bought a Bose A20. Had help form an uncle who is deaf from working around planes his whole life in the Navy. Without his help I would have bought a good ol DC. In that bag I have sectionals, my chart supplement, FAR/AIM, e6b, plotter, etc. I have a kneeboard, the trifold kind with pockets from sportys pilot shop. I used it twice and found it was just too bulky. I now use a small wooden clipboard that I cut slots into to feed a big velcro strap through. Works great, but again only use it during XC flights. One thing I would recommend getting is some kind of red flashlight for your night flights. Not the kind where you have to click 3-4 times to use the red light and risk blinding yourself with bright white light. If you are going to use your phone for Foreflight I recommend a small portable battery charger as well. Foreflight tends to kill my phone battery.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
  28. Half Fast

    Half Fast Pattern Altitude

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    Get your own headset. The school loaner headsets will have been beat to death, won't work half the time, and Lord knows whose lips were rubbing against the mic last.

    I've been using one of the ASA headsets for about a year and a half now. You can't beat it for $100, and if you ever have a problem it has a lifetime warranty. I put a set of cloth ear covers on it and it's quite comfortable. If you're buying a passive headset, I really don't see any justification to spend more.

    https://www.amazon.com/ASA-HS-1-Headset-Aviation/dp/B001THL8SQ

    I'll eventually get an ANR headset and move the ASA into passenger use, but for now the ASA does the job quite well.

    Apart from that, you don't need much. Most, if not all, of the books you need can be downloaded for free from the FAA. You'll need a plotter and some form of e6b and a paper VFR chart.

    Stuff you'll want will be almost unlimited, but it will depend a bit on the plane you're flying. If you don't have a glass panel, you'll probably want a tablet and ForeFlight or something similar.

    Find out what beer your CFI likes and pick up a few cases for him.

    If possible, try to get a credit card in someone else's name for your flying expenses; it's going to get pricey.
     
  29. labbadabba

    labbadabba Pattern Altitude

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    I needed some extras so I bought a Kore KA-1 headset. Blew me away for the value. A bit more than the ASAs but they are everybit as good as my expensive DCs and more comfortable too.

    https://www.amazon.com/KORE-AVIATION-Premium-Aviation-Carrying/dp/B00Y5HLLDY

    I would also suggest a local sectional, 2018 FAR/AIM, Chart Supplement (formerly known as an AFD), Plotter, E6B either manual or calculator is up to you. Optional but highly recommended are the Airplane Flying Handbook and the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. Both are free on the FAA website but I ordered the books anyway. I lived with my nose in those books during my training and still pull them out from time to time.
     
  30. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    I'll second (third, fourth?) the recommendation on getting your own headset, and for the reasons noted. I borrowed a headset from my CFI until I got my own (Softcomm C-90, got it in the AOPA auction back in 2000, still use it today). Spend the money for a noise cancelling set, your ears will thank you later.

    The rest of the stuff I got in a kit that my CFI recommended. Cheap E6/B, plotter, necessary books, things of that nature. Wait for your CFI to tell you what to get. A kneeboard can wait. I got some foggles, which I use to this day. Hated them then, hate them today. They block the part of my graduated lenses that focus on the radio stack, making it difficult to read the fine print on the 430W. For student pilot work that shouldn't be an issue, but it sure is a pain for IPCs. And, have fun with the instrument awareness training. It is useful, and fun.

    The primary thing you need is money, the more the merrier. Have fun!
     
  31. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    A book or online course to prepare for the written.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
  32. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Damn! Lemme know when you wanna work on your Instrument, Flight Review, hell we'll just shoot the bull and drink beer.
     
  33. wrbix

    wrbix Cleared for Takeoff

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    Metal Landing Calculator.....



    ....,no not really- that's just resurrecting an old joke here ;)
     
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  34. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    Get the best headset you can afford. "Best" is subjective of course. I prefer in-ear so I have a Clarity Aloft. The headset is the one thing that you are guaranteed to keep using if you keep flying. Everything else will be used less often or not at all later on.

    I would suggest that you get an E6B (cheap or expensive is your call), plotter (not a big fancy one, something in the middle of the size range), current sectional, and current chart supplement. And go to an office supply store and buy a steno notebook and click-type ballpoint pen. Everything else can wait until you or your CFI decide that you have a legitimate need for it. It may turn out that you don't need anything else. (E.g., you will have to provide a simulated IFR hood or foggles for your check ride, but you may be able to borrow one from your CFI.)

    For a flight bag, use whatever you have that will carry your stuff. Later on, you'll figure out exactly what fits your needs and you can buy that instead. I use a Tom Bihn Copilot bag for my gear, the AOPA headset bag for my expired, backup, paper charts, and a small duffel bag for a change of clothes and toiletries in case my day trip turns into an overnight one. (So far, carrying that bag has resulted in consistently good weather. I got weathered in on almost every cross-country I took before I started carrying an overnight bag.)

    If you do want to get some flying gadgets, the Pilot Pocket is great. It holds a pen (as long as it's small, like a Bic with the lid thrown away), a pocket notebook, a cell phone, and sunglasses and it sticks to the window next to you so those things are all convenient while you're in the air.

    I think a lot of licensed pilots have a flying bag full of flying paraphernalia that they ended up never using or not using since their dual cross-country lesson. I certainly do. So don't be ashamed if you follow that same path. But if you can avoid it, that's best. Every dollar that you spend on not-flying is a dollar you can't spend on flying.
     
  35. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer Pattern Altitude

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    Ain't that the truth. I don't carry my flight bag at all anymore. Headset stays with the plane, the EFIS does most of the calculations an E6B would, I've got the FAR/AIM on my iPhone, GPS replaces charts for the most part (but I do always have a current paper sectional in the glove box), etc. But the bag was sure handy during those training days.
     
  36. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Money,headset,money physical and more money.
     
  37. mulligan

    mulligan Cleared for Takeoff

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    I️ spent a ton of money on a ton of crap and don’t use any of it. All I️ fly with is an iPad and some travel johns.
     
  38. cgrab

    cgrab Cleared for Takeoff

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    I had a simple kneeboard but I took two 5x8 cards and laminated them. The first was blank and the second had a diagram of the home airport with headings for downwind, crosswind and base as well as the runway for both runways. It was helpful in the beginning. I still use the blank one and now have one with my call to clearance with blanks for direction of departure, destination and altitude requested.
     
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  39. cgrab

    cgrab Cleared for Takeoff

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    My current flight bag is made by Igloo. It is a small backpack and has a cooler in the main section with pockets for my tablet, radio and survival gear. Everything else stays in the plane-the joys of ownership.
     
  40. Hippike

    Hippike Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Go to a pilot store to try on different headsets to see how they fit/feel (then purchase them online because it's cheaper that way), but make sure you wear your glasses/sunglasses with the headset, so you don't end up like me. The headset hugs my head well, but when I put on my sunglasses, the frame kind of lifts off the headset a bit so they don't 100% cover my ears. I made it work, but wish I tried them on first with glasses before purchase. I always carry a rug to wipe off any splashes from my skin when checking the fuel. When you start doing xc, carry extra clothing, water and food in case the plane breaks down and you end up somewhere else than the home drome. Others commented on the rest.