Essentials That Every Pilot Needs In Their Flight Bag

The Essentials That Every Pilot Needs In Their Flight Bag

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Pilot and Medical Certificates

Regardless of what type of pilot you may be, if you fly you must have your pilot certificate when you are behind the controls. It is important to make sure you always double-check that you have it prior to getting to the plane. It is also important to take care of it.

Losing any sort of certificate or documentation will be a bad day for everyone involved and they aren’t necessarily the fastest things to get, considering the effort you’ll have to put into re-obtain it.

Similar to the Certificate you must also carry around proof of your medical whenever you fly. It would be a bad day if you got caught without it! Most people keep both items on them in their wallets, but if you are one of those who don’t use a wallet, it is not a bad idea to put them in a safe spot in your flight bag.

If you are feeling fancy you can get an ID holder

Pilot Certificate Holder
Pilot and Medical Certificate Holder


Choosing the right pilot headset

Check out our favorite headsets and how to choose the right one for you here 

This goes without saying. If you are flying you will need to communicate with other pilots and those on the ground. You need a headset that is reliable and one that you can depend on. You also need one that will protect your hearing while also allowing you to be able to understand the message that others may be trying to say to you.

Being an effective communicator is one of the most important pilot skills. You need to be clear, concise, and correct, every time you key the mic to go out over the radio. This is one of the quickest ways to make others upset when you are unprofessional or hogging the radio space. Having a good headset will help in this process

Flight Publications

VFR chart for flight bag

Aviate, Navigate and communicate in that order. Flight publications guide you on doing all three. Whenever you fly, you plan for the worst-case scenarios. You back yourself up with having the proper publications such as manuals and aeronautical information in the FLIP. FLIP covers rules of the air, general and national ATC procedures, a directory of communication facilities, a directory of aerodromes, aeronautical codes, emergency procedures, etc.

Just as important, you want to make sure you have charts for your routing, airfields, navigational facilities, and airspaces. This will you keep you out of trouble.

If you are flying IFR or getting approach practice in, you want to make sure you have current approach plates, SIDs, and STARs. Also, make sure you have a proper airfield diagram, especially if going to an unfamiliar field. Back yourself up by checking the NOTAMs to see if anything is closed or changed.

Electronic Flight Bag

In the modern-day, the aviation world has transitioned away from paper publications and the electronic flight bag or (EFB). The EFB has gotten very popular amongst general aviation, the military, and the airline industry.

The EFB is popular because it packs all of the 20 pounds worth of publications that you might have to carry around into an Ipad. This is a much easier item to carry. The EFB also allows the user to interact and tailor their publications to their choosing through the use of apps

Apps such as Foreflight are incredibly powerful tools. Foreflight for example is an all-in-one flying app that covers every phase of flight from planning to postflight.

Our go-to tablet of choice would be the Ipad. Many of us use the 10.9 inches 256GB. It works well in the cockpit. It all comes down to personal choice for the size and whether you want it mounted or on your lap.

Make sure your EFB is secure

It is advised to make sure it is secure whether that is by mount or via a kneeboard. This is to protect it and to also keep it in front of you in case you need to write something down or need to reference information such as an airfield diagram. I personally use the strap, but for those who like to use a full kneeboard, we linked one down below as well.

Leg strap for tablets
Leg Strap For Ipad
Kneeboard with iPad holder
Kneeboard with iPad holder

Handheld Radio

This is more so geared towards general aviation. Like mentioned before it is smart to plan for the worst-case scenario. Radios don’t necessarily just stop working but let’s say you have an electrical fire and must shut off your electrical systems, and you are down both radios, now what?

A handheld radio may sit in your flight bag for years, but if the time comes for you to use it, you will thank yourself dearly.


Flashlights can be a handy tool and a must for every pilot. This is a priceless tool for performing the walk-around preflight inspection. It allows you to check things out and get a good look at things that are hidden away inside the engine bay for example.

When flying, especially at night or in IMC it can come in handy as well. If you are using paper publications, it would be a nightmare to have to try to read them while in the clouds without one.

Most importantly, it can be a lifesaver. Again, planning for the worst-case scenario. What if you lost the ability to use any lighting from the aircraft due to a bad battery, generator, or alternator? To make it worse, let’s say you accidentally went into IMC, or it’s at night so the cockpit is pitch black, you’ll wish you brought that flashlight. Don’t be caught without one!

Something we like to do is always have a small one on our person, whether that is attached to a zipper or to our headsets so we can have quick access to it. For normal stuff though, we carry around a bigger one in our bag. 

Aircraft Manuals and Checklists

Like communication, checklist discipline is an important skill for any pilot. Even the most experienced pilots will back themselves up by going over their checklist to make sure they get everything. This will keep the aircraft and those inside safe.

Likewise, with manuals, it is important to keep them with you or on the plane. You never know when you may need to refer to it if you need to work an issue while in the air. Flying is dangerous, and the less you have to wing it, pun intended, the better.

Similar to the flight pubs we talked about earlier, the FAA provides free material for everyone that gets into a lot of these topics. They cover everything you need to know for the flying world and specifically for the United States. These are more for while you are on the ground, but you can also put them on your EFB in case a question comes up. Check that out here.

Sunglasses and Sunscreen

The sun can be very harmful to the human body. When you fly, you expose yourself to even more rays so it is important to make sure you are protecting your eyes and your skin.

For sunglasses, your glasses will need to be non-polarized. They need to be Non-polarized because it can affect the way instruments look. You don’t want to keep taking your glasses off while you are doing your cross-check. You also want to make sure you pick a pair that will be comfortable on your face for long periods of time and sit well with your headset.

For sunscreen, it is pretty self-explanatory. Choose a brand and SPF that will work best for your skin. Every pilot is different and requires different types of sunscreen so choose what is best for you!



Flying is expensive, you do not want to fly for 2 hours and waste all that money because you forgot to log it. This is important to keep track of requirements, milestones, and especially if you are trying to become a professional pilot.

There are plenty of options out there for logging hours, whether that is a physical copy or through an app. It is not a bad idea to do both so that way you have a backup. Hours are one of the most important things for every pilot. It shows experience and unlocks doors down the road. Do not forget to log them!



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