What’s In My Flight Bag – 10 Things You Should Always Have In The Cockpit

From the Flight Deck

What’s In My Flight Bag – 10 Things You Should Always Have In The Cockpit

If you are a new pilot or an experienced pilot, we all understand the value of keeping our flight bags prepared. Contrary to popular belief, your flight bag shouldn’t weigh a brick, however, it shouldn’t feel empty. Having exactly what’s needed and eliminating excess is about efficiency, and isn’t that what it’s all about? This guide is to show what we believe are some of the flight bag essentials, things that you should always keep on the go.

The Essentials

1) Flashlight

Every pilot should always include a headband flashlight in their flight bag at all times. Specifically, one that can light red and white depending on your flight needs. For night flights you only want to enable the red light so that it does not interfere with your night vision.

Imagine a scenario where you lose electricity during a night flight, You want to be prepared with a headband light to make a safe and secured landing.

2) Battery Charger

A battery charger is a quintessential part of the flight bag as most of our flight equipment these days relies on rechargeable energy. Having one on hand really helps if you are mid-flight and need a little juice. Of course, there may be plugs and outlets on the aircraft you are flying however often we notice that they can be faulty depending on the age or use of your aircraft. Its always good to have a backup battery charge just in case you need a quick charge.

notepad for aviation

3) Notepad & Pen

Ever had ATC reading back a long clearance? Sometimes you need to have a paper and pen on hand to copy down efficiently. Even though we are in the realm of iPads, it never hurts to have one on standby just in-case you need a proper reminder.

4) Water

Water is essential for every bag in your life however especially needed on the flight deck. Always have a bottle of water on hand to counter any stroke of dehydration. Being hydrated is essential to alertness and keeping your body at its peak. Just make sure you don’t drink too much before the flight as you might find yourself needing to land for a quick one!

5) Power Adapter

Depending on the aircraft you fly you may need to do some research for this one. Generally speaking, most aircraft have a regular 12v DC adapter on board for any peripherals. These are great so that you can charge your EFB or any other devices that require power during a long flight. Definitely, ensure you are doing your due diligence with choosing the right adapter!

DON’T CHEAP OUT, when it comes to these power adapters, USB or DC 12v there are tons of counterfeits or shoddy equipment online. Make sure you get a quality, high-rated power adapter for your aircraft as it may cost you in the long run.

Here are a few we suggest:

6) Backup Radio

It’s always important to have a backup radio on hand. Scenarios where losing electrical power or an emergency landing in the middle of nowhere can result in you having no communication methods. It’s important to keep one handy just in case you need to contact a guard or test communication systems on the aircraft.

Our guide for backup radios is coming soon so be sure to subscribe to stay notified.

7) EFB (Electronic Flight Bag)

An Electronic flight bag is any device that stores or acts as an alternative to your Charts or flight documents. Generally speaking, the industry has used the Apple iPad as their go-to. Many great apps such as ForeFlight are available for pilots to use as a one-stop solution for all their navigation needs. EFBs have innovative features to help you fly safer and more efficiently.

We don’t suggest student pilots immediately jumping for an EFB. However, if you are a new private pilot, or experience we suggest you learn to utilize an EFB platform

8) Flight Aids

Portable ADS-B in Receiver

After the FAA made their mandate (FAR 91.225) on January 1st, 2020 All aircraft within

  • Class A, B, and C airspace;
  • Class E airspace at or above 10,000 feet msl, excluding airspace at and below 2,500 feet agl;
  • Within 30 nautical miles of a Class B primary airport (the Mode C veil);
  • Above the ceiling and within the lateral boundaries of Class B or Class C airspace up to 10,000 feet (note that ADS-B is not required below a Class B or Class C airspace shelf, if it is outside of a Mode C veil);
  • Class E airspace over the Gulf of Mexico, at and above 3,000 feet msl, within 12 nm of the U.S. coast.

Are required to have an ADS-B Out transmitter on board.

This is why we cannot complete this article without suggesting all aviators have an ADS-B IN Receiver on board. ADS-B is Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast in laymen’s terms it is a surveillance technology that allows you to pick up traffic on the go.

Portable ADS-B IN Receivers collect tower information and display it graphically on your EFB (Electronic Flight Bag)

ADS-B collects useful information such as,

  • Airmen’s Meteorological Information (AIRMET)
  • Significant Meteorological Information (SIGMET)
  • NOTAMs
  • Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF)
  • Winds & Temperatures Aloft
  • And so much more

This is why it is essential in every flight bag,

Click here for some of our favorite picks for ADS-B IN Receivers

9) Headset

Arguably the most important thing you need in a flight bag is the headset. Communication is key in aviation and ensuring you have the best equipment to communicate is part of what makes an effective pilot.

There are two types of aviation headsets in the market, active Noise-canceling, and passive noise canceling. By nature, all aviation headsets are passive noise-canceling since they provide enough padding and clamp force to cancel noise on their own. On the other end of the spectrum, you have Noise-cancelling which uses cross-frequency amplification to cancel out the noise around you.

Noise-Canceling Headsets

Noise-canceling aviation headsets use cross-frequency amplification to cancel out the noise around you. Every noise-canceling headset has an array of microphones on the external end to hear the noise in the surrounding area. Processing within the headset cancels out the external frequency.

Here Are a Few Noise Cancelling Headphones We Suggest: 

Bose A20

The Bose A20 is most definitely the industry standard for active noise canceling headsets for Aviation. Since 1999 Bose has been the leader in comfort and noise-canceling headphones. The same moniker goes to their aviation headsets which blow the competition out of the water. The headphones are made with a light plastic material, for some this may be a turnoff but its purpose is to eliminate weight from the pilot’s crown. Swappable cables for any aircraft input configuration and with a 2-year warranty.


Light Speed Zulu 3


The light-speed Zulu 3 is another great pick in the lineup of noise-canceling headphones. This is one of the main alternatives to the Bose A20 and a number one pick for many aviators. The most noticeable difference (other than its cheaper price point) is the higher-end build quality that the Zulu offers. However, some may notice the build quality may sacrifice in the weight department.

Just like the Bose headsets the Light Speed Zulu 3 offers auxiliary audio. The added benefit of the Zulu is the app that includes a recorder, so you don’t need to have a capture device to listen to your ATC communications.


David Clark DC ONE-X ENC

David Clark is the most respected name in aviation headset technology. The DC One-X is a recently released addition to their lineup. David Clark claims this is a Hybrid Electronic Noise Cancellation, so this may not be as strong as the other in the lineup however it offers the same selection. This headset may be better suited if you find yourself fatigued by the strong noise canceling of the Bose or the Zulu.


Noise-canceling headsets are often the more expensive choice however they can truly benefit in the long run to protect your hearing. As pilots, our hearing statistically gets worse than a normal trend due to our experience with atmospheric changes. Protecting the hearing that we do have is essential to living an enjoyable life, that’s why we suggest investing in noise-canceling headphones upfront.

Passive Noise Canceling Headsets

Passive noise-canceling headsets are not using active technology to cancel out the noise. Instead, they are using padding and clamping techniques to block out the sound around them. These are budget options and plenty are still very good for flying. For those that don’t like the sensation from active noise canceling headsets, passive noise cancellation can prove to be a much better alternative


10) The Flight Bag

Of course, In order to carry equipment you need to have a flight bag. Which flight bag should you get? There are many options for purchasing a flight bag and it truly depends on your preference. Flight backs are similar to normal bags in terms of strapping and handle bars. Just ensure the one you choose is suited toward your comfort and flight needs.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started

Large Selection: Brightline Bag Flex B7 – Modular Bag

We love the Brightline Bag because its modular and can scale throughout your flight career. The Brightline B7 has 3 modular sections which can separate individually, meaning if you want to pack light you can unzip the other 2 sections to have a slim flight case. If you want to pack heavy you can keep all three compartments attached for a long haul.

Depending on your needs you can adjust the size and utility of the bag which I think creates a massive value. Initially, in your flight career, you will want your flight bag to have a lot of space since you will carry tons of training material, but as you grow you will need less and less on hand.


Small Selection: ASA AirClassics Flight Bag

It can’t get any more basic than this! The ASA AirClassics Flight Bag is a basic approach of such a traditional concept. This flight bag features 5 compartments that can store a variety of equipment. It is on the smaller side so keep that in mind if you tend to have a lot of tools on hand. However, if you find yourself traveling light, this may be the best option for you.

In Conclusion

We hope we were able to give you a great perspective on what items are essential on the flight deck. Let us know if what we listed helped you during flight.

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