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The way to Streamline Your Pilot’s Flight Bag

Our lives are cluttered with junk!
Our inboxes are filled 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 on the considered how long they’ve been in there!

Malaysian Straight Skin PU Tape In Hair Extensions Black Pink Tape In Human Hair ExtensionsThis hoarding has also passed into other parts of our lives, including aviation. Pilots love their gadgets and toys. There are multiple sites to buy for them and it seems like we will not get enough. But on top of the flight planning tools, navigation equipment, how to do messy ponytail hairstyles and required publications a flight bag can get jam filled with random “just in case” toys.

For example, check out this comprehensive list I present in a web forum that a pilot actually carries! He says,

“I carry around quite a bit, maybe an excessive amount of. 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)
IFR Timer
Spare pens/mechanical pencil
Spare spare pens/mechanical pencil
Fat sharpie marker
VFR Sectionals/TAC
IFR Approach Plates (Florida)
Emergency rations (CLIF Bars)
Leatherman Multi-purpose Tool
Fuel stick
ICOM Radio
Voice Recorder (for CVR setup)
Logbook (As a student, my school requires us to carry them with us.)
Yoke Clip (in case the plane just isn’t equipped with a chart clip)
ACE Hardware “Little Black Book”
Intercom recording cable (for CVR setup)

And he doesn’t stop there!!! He plans to add:
Sigtronics 4-place portable intercom
11″ flight bag module (for overnight)
An extra 6″ flight bag section (so I can carry my wife’s headset)

Yes, I do know that this man (I’m not sure we should 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 an inventory of everything, from your headset to the type 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 use 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 required flight tasks. (Throw out the rest!)

Yes, in an emergency a number of tools would make life easier, but I prefer to play the chances and hope for the very 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 10% that get nearly all of the flight done.

But we’re missing another 10%! THE BOOKS!
During my flight training, (and possibly yours) electronic flight bags were VERY expensive and iPads were not 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 need 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 opposite 10% necessary to execute a flight used to weigh 8-15 lbs. but now it weighs lower 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 yet one more 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 carry less in your flight bag, but still retain all the traditional/necessary functions of a flight.

The best thing I can inform you to do is to purchase an iPad! But you’re smarter than that and I’m sure you’ve got already looked into purchasing one.

But investing in a terrific product is only a portion of the DETOX we wish to perform. We also wish to streamline processes, which is able to open our eyes to things inside and outdoors the aircraft we regularly miss or typically just glance at.

But first, this is an inventory of apps to download that get the job done with an iPad. (I haven’t 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 possibly 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 take advantage of my iPad as it could possibly become a crutch or a distraction when I might much rather gaze out the window. It is beautiful out there!

So we’ve taken care of 50% of the problem. The books are a necessity, but we are able to consolidate with 1 piece of equipment and slightly personal training to learn the means of using the apps.

Here comes the fun part. Let’s purge the other 50% of the difficulty.
You might have your list right Your list of stuff you carry in your flight bag After reading the past few paragraphs and understanding the 80/20 principle, I hope you possibly can cross off a few things on that list! But wait! Do not just yet.

We’re going to 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’d remember something if they concentrated on recalling it. Sort of heady to think about, but it will make more sense in your flight bag detox!

Quick Definition: Breaking something all the way down to the bottom common denominator to raised learn, realize, and streamline a process.

So where to begin
Deconstruct your flight into the most basic LEGO blocks. I do that in two ways.

The basic 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 follow 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 take within those terms. Be as specific as possible.

What specifically do you do while 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, within the third column write the precise tool, gadget, body part, accessory you utilize to perform that action. You will have redundant ones but write it down anyway.

Done Good.
Have a look at your list now and rewrite those tools on a clean sheet, excluding the redundant ones.

Here is the DETOX part!
Ask yourself which tool, gadget, accessory, etc… can I throw in the garbage right now and still execute a safe flight

I do not care if it was a gift from 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 essential to execute the flight, or is there another instrument, process, checklist item, etc… that can do the same thing If yes, toss it!

Oh yeah, cross off the body parts you will have written down too. You are not putting them in your flight bag anyway.

SIDE NOTE: Notice how survival tools haven’t come up yet Nowhere in aviate, navigate, or communicate (in a flight) will you need a first aid kit, survival knife, floatation device, CV Radio etc…

If you’re a Boy Scout and also you wish to “Be Prepared” make a separate survival bag and put it in your plane! Ask the business you rented the aircraft from for their emergency kit.

We’re talking about your flight bag here. You’re taking it to go flying not crashing/surviving.
You should now have an inventory of only a few items. Most of which are small and lightweight. Feeling lighter yet If you are just like the guy with that long list before, try to be near 15-20 lb. lighter! I’m guessing the majority are close to 5 lb. lighter.

Now have a look at how much space you’ve got freed up in your flight bag! You could probably fit an additional pair of clothes and stay overnight at a destination instead of carrying separate luggage or flying back the identical day!

But, more importantly, you’re now free from all the extra clutter that may ruin the flying experience and weigh you down (literally and figuratively).

If you have taken the time to stipulate 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 use the same simple principles in lots of 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 have found this exercise as rewarding as I did once i purged my flight bag. When you’ve got any tips or tricks you utilize, I would Love to learn what you do. Just post a comment below!

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