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Easy methods to Streamline Your Pilot’s Flight Bag
Our lives are cluttered with junk!
Our inboxes are stuffed with email. Our garages overflow with: yard equipment, kid’s toys, cars, bikes, boxes. Our cupboards are stocked with ingredients so infrequently used that we cringe at the considered how long they’ve been in there!
This hoarding has also passed into other parts of our lives, including aviation. Pilots love their gadgets and toys. There are multiple sites to shop for them and it looks like we won’t get enough. But on top of the flight planning tools, navigation equipment, and required publications a flight bag can get jam full of random “just in case” toys.
For example, take a look at this comprehensive list I found in an online forum that a pilot actually carries! He says,
“I carry around too much, maybe too much. In no particular order”:
Spare CR123 batteries
IFR Clip-on shades
Microfiber cloths (one for sunglasses, one for interior windows/windscreen, one for exterior windows/windscreen)
Spare pens/mechanical pencil
Spare spare pens/mechanical pencil
Fat sharpie marker
IFR Approach Plates (Florida)
Emergency rations (CLIF Bars)
Leatherman Multi-purpose Tool
Voice Recorder (for CVR setup)
Logbook (As a student, my school requires us to carry them with us.)
Yoke Clip (in case the plane is not equipped with a chart clip)
ACE Hardware “Little Black Book”
Intercom recording cable (for CVR setup)
And he would not stop there!!! He plans to add:
Sigtronics 4-place portable intercom
11″ flight bag module (for overnight)
An additional 6″ flight bag section (so I can carry my wife’s headset)
Yes, I know that this man (I’m not sure we must always label him a man since his flight bag sounds more like a purse!) carries WAY more than the everyday aviator and most of us choose to chop down on the non essentials. But, let’s take a moment to think about what we typically carry in our flight bag. Write down a list of everything, from your headset to the kind of gum you munch on. Take a moment now and we’ll come back to your list in a bit bit.
Personally I keep things simple.
I take advantage of the 80/20 principle every-single flight. For an in depth article on the 80/20 principle, try Pareto Principle
Simple explanation: Identify the 20% of equipment in your flight bag that you utilize for 80% of the necessary flight tasks. (Throw out the remaining!)
Yes, in an emergency a few tools would make life easier, but I prefer to play the percentages and hope for one of the best. My Scout Master’s neck vein could be popping out right now if he know’s I neglect the motto “BE PREPARED”… Oh well!
David Clarke Headset
Kneeboard – Carries all essential documentation, identification, log book, E6B flight computer, paperwork, 2 pens, 1 pencil, a small cereal bar and a pack of juicy fruit.
That’s IT!!! Those are the 3 lbs. (if that) of essentials. The ten% that get the vast majority of the flight done.
But we’re missing another 10%! THE BOOKS!
During my flight training, coconut oil on dry hair (and possibly yours) electronic flight bags were VERY expensive and iPads weren’t in existence. We lugged around multiple maps/enroute charts, a POS, airport plates, and possibly the ever present and enormous FAR/AIM. Discuss hassle!
But how times have changed!
Applications and eBooks have compressed EVERYTHING we have to aviate and navigate with, into handheld computers. Yes, like everything new we throw into the cockpit it takes time to learn the processes and work flow. But think about that 80/20 principle again.
The other 10% necessary to execute a flight used to weigh 8-15 lbs. but now it weighs less than 1.75 lbs. AND removes unnecessary processes in the flight like map folding, leafing through airport plates, and pulling up procedure lists.
So add another thing to my list:
iPad Power Cord (Which fits within the kneeboard perfectly with no added bulk)
Work smarter, NOT harder!
The goal here is to hold less in your flight bag, but still retain all the normal/necessary functions of a flight.
The best thing I can let you know to do is to buy an iPad! But you’re smarter than that and I am sure you’ve got already looked into purchasing one.
But investing in an excellent product is only a portion of the DETOX we wish to accomplish. We also wish to streamline processes, which can open our eyes to things inside and outdoors the aircraft we often miss or typically just glance at.
But first, this is a coconut oil on dry hair list of apps to download that get the job done with an iPad. (I don’t have any affiliation with these applications)
ForeFlight Mobile – Pre-flight and in-flight product which incorporates maps, approach charts, weather graphics, document organization, flight planning etc…
Garmin Pilot – Same features of ForeFlight, but adds Garmin GTN-style menus, split screen, GDL 39 integration, etc…
WingX Pro7 – WinX is the last of the “big three” navigation apps with ForeFlight and Garmin. Includes complete digital charts, moving maps, track up, terrain, and split screen.
Sporty’s E6B – Good ol’ fashion E6B within added features like AIR/SIGMET overlay and route overlays based on N-numbers.
LogTen Pro – Electronic logbook with no computer syncing. Automatic alerts for currency, and tons of options for printing your logbook.
iFly Weight and Balance – The tedious paper weight and balance process is over! Uses 160 pre-made aircraft templates so you can just plug in numbers. Easily customize a template to your aircraft.
ASA FAR/AIM – Simple menu layout and powerful search feature. CUTS DOWN ON 5 LBS.!!!
FlightAware – The addictive website is now in your iPhone and iPad! Track IFR flights with their N-number.
These apps can even cut down on my personal flight bag list from above! But, I choose carefully which flights I use my iPad as it might become a crutch or a distraction when I would much rather gaze out the window. It’s beautiful out there!
So we have taken care of fifty% of the problem. The books are a necessity, but we can consolidate with 1 piece of equipment and a little personal training to learn the strategy of using the apps.
Here comes the fun part. Let’s purge the other 50% of the difficulty.
You’ve got your list right Your list of belongings you carry in your flight bag After reading the past few paragraphs and understanding the 80/20 principle, I hope you’ll be able to cross off a couple of things on that list! But wait! Do not just yet.
We’ll go ‘META’ on what’s remain on your list
The prefix meta- is used to mean about (its own category). For instance, metadata are data about data, or metamemory in psychology means an individual’s knowledge about whether-or-not they would remember something in the event that they focused on recalling it. Kind of heady to consider, but it should make more sense in your flight bag detox!
Quick Definition: Breaking something right down to the bottom common denominator to better learn, realize, and streamline a process.
So where to start
Deconstruct your flight into essentially the most basic LEGO blocks. I do this in two ways.
AVIATE, NAVIGATE, COMMUNICATE
The essential action steps of the flight: Ex: Flight plan, aircraft check, pre-flight, takeoff, en-route, land, park/hangar.
For this exercises purpose though, we’ll persist with Aviate, Navigate, and Communicate.
Draw three columns on a bit of paper. Write Aviate, Navigate, Communicate in decending order on the left side of your notepad. In a column next to those, write down the essential actions you’re taking within those terms. Be as specific as possible.
What specifically do you do whenever you aviate Ex: Scan instruments, check list run through, etc…
What specifically do you do to navigate
What specifically do you do to communicate
Now, in the third column write the particular tool, gadget, body part, accessory you use to perform that action. You may have redundant ones but write it down anyway.
Look at your list now and rewrite those tools on a clean sheet, excluding the redundant ones.
Here’s the DETOX part!
Ask yourself which tool, gadget, accessory, etc… can I throw in the rubbish right now and still execute a safe flight
I do not care if it was a gift out of your significant other or it has some sentimental meaning for you.Cross it off.
Then, ask yourself which tool, gadget, accessory, etc… only accomplishes one thing. Is that one task ABSOLUTELY necessary to execute the flight, or is there another instrument, process, checklist item, etc… that may do the same thing If yes, toss it!
Oh yeah, cross off the body parts you might have written down too. You’re not putting them in your flight bag anyway.
SIDE NOTE: Notice how survival tools have not come up yet Nowhere in aviate, navigate, or communicate (in a flight) will you need a primary aid kit, survival knife, floatation device, CV Radio etc…
If you’re a Boy Scout and also you prefer to “Be Prepared” make a separate survival bag and put it on your plane! Ask the business you rented the aircraft from for their emergency kit.
We’re talking about your flight bag here. You are taking it to go flying not crashing/surviving.
You need to now have a list of only a few items. Most of that are small and lightweight. Feeling lighter yet If you’re just like the guy with that long list before, you ought to be close to 15-20 lb. lighter! I’m guessing the majority are near 5 lb. lighter.
Now take a look at how much space you have freed up in your flight bag! You possibly can probably fit an additional pair of clothes and stay overnight at a destination instead of carrying separate luggage or flying back the same day!
But, more importantly, you are now free from all the additional clutter that can ruin the flying experience and weigh you down (literally and figuratively).
If you’ve got taken the time to outline what you carry in your flight bag AND purge the unnecessary and redundant junk, congratulations! I applaud you for streamlining one small facet of your life and that i encourage you to make use of the identical simple principles in many other areas of your life.
I typically do this exercise once a quarter with ALL my belongings. It is crazy how much I can donate to Goodwill (gotta love a tax write off) and/or completely throw out!
I hope you’ve got found this exercise as rewarding as I did when i purged my flight bag. When you have any tips or tricks you employ, I might Like to learn what you do. Just post a comment below!
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