Important Items Every Professional Pilot Needs in Their Flight Bag
Plus what you definitely need in your overnight roller board.
When I was a private pilot I carried a small flight bag with my pilot supplies inside. As I moved along to instructing, the bag pretty much stayed the same. I flew for a part 135 carrier and my needs changed slightly. But until I started flying for a smaller airline and then to a large airline did I realize my needs really changed.
Back when I first got hired at a major airline, the company was in pre iPad days so all the manuals on the plane were in manual format also great with all your Jeppesen charts. This made for a ridiculously heavy flight bag and I certainly did not want to carry anything more than my medical, ratings and sunglasses. Now that the iPad has arrived, all this heavy data is compact and easy to carry, which has changed out our flight bags significantly. Now, for me, it’s about carrying the things that make me most comfortable when traveling on a multi day trip. This is my latest list and why I carry them, I also try to keep the flight bag as light as possible.
iPad and charger, for obvious reasons, they are required. Also it’s probably obvious that you can’t go anywhere without your phone. I have an iPhone so the charger is the same as the iPad. No matter what dire emergency my wife or kids have do I take that charger out of my bag when I am not flying. If you have kids, you understand.
Passport, medical, licenses and copies. I keep these in a dedicated aviation document bag so that they are all together. The doc bag is zippered in case somehow the bag gets tipped over.
Tide stain stick. For some reason every airline on the planet really does not care if you have time to eat or not. This almost always means you will eat your food in the cockpit and on your lap. At least once per month a drop oatmeal or something gooey ends up on my tie without fail.
A plastic utensil set ready because I sometimes forget to get one in the food court.
Emergency cash, I put a twenty dollar bill in my doc bag in case of emergencies. Once I left my wallet at home at that twenty bucks was a lifesaver. (Be prepared, former Boy Scout)
Two full size bandaids. Every airplane has some spot with a piece of something sticking out ready to get you. It never fails that I bleed a little bit at least once a year. While usually this is not a big deal, most airplanes are a petri dish of germs since management never thinks that cleaning the cockpits is necessary.
Extra batteries. I use a Bose headset that runs on AA batteries. I always carry a couple of those just in case. They also just so happen to fit in my led flashlight, so it’s a bonus two for one deal.
Ear buds, because once in a while you have to dead head in the back and there is always one passenger that want to ask you a zillion questions.
Overnight roller board
My overnight bag has a few items in it that are dedicated to that bag and do not come out. The first one may surprise you, it’s a plastic bag. I put a plastic bag similar to a grocery bag in my suitcase for dirty clothes. This keeps my clean clothes clean and not smelling like the socks I wore for yesterday’s 14 hour duty day. Believe it not the best place to get the bag is in your hotel. In every room is a hangar with a plastic bag on it so that you could put your laundry or shoes out to be cleaned. (Don’t do that). Take that bag and make it yours, they are heavier and the perfect size. Plus you can be like me and use it over and over. I have a nice heavy duty bag that I have used for over ten years. The recycling junkies would bound to be super proud of me.
Mini umbrella. Get a small one that fits on the large outside pocket of your dollar board and walk arounds in the rain are a no brainer. Snag another one of those hotel bags to use as a wet umbrella bag and your golden.
Dedicated shave kit. I have a shave kit just for work, it has everything the top bathroom drawer at home has. Once A month I restock it. I buy the mini shaving cream and all the other mini size toiletries at Target to keep it light and small. I also thrown in one extra set of blades for my razor. This makes packing for a four day trip a breeze because you have all this in their already. I also found this really small sewing kit for emergency repairs. It has a little bit of thread, a needle one button and a safety pin. It has saved the day more than once.
Shoe bag, I keep dedicated shoes for overnighting in my bag in a cool little shoe bag so they don’t get the other stuff dirty.
My favorite bag, the lunch cooler bag.
I really love my lunch cooler bag. I generally only carry it when I have my roller board since it slides over the top. The main compartment I use for bringing my travel food. Eating on the road is challenging, so I carry some basics in my bag.
Instant oatmeal. Add some hot water from the plane and in five minutes breakfast is served. If you are in the hotel then I use the coffee pot to make hot water. They are light, filling, and better for you most anything else. I can’t deal with the $16 breakfast at the Holiday Inn (or any other hotel). It is way overpriced and they think it’s better than it usually is.
Protein bars. I call these my emergency rations. They keep forever and will tide you over with protein.
Extra plastic utensils plus napkins and some wet wipes or a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
I have discovered this sandwich spice that you can buy from Penzys that adds some amazing flavor to the most mediocre sandwich found in most airports. For some reason bland and boring seem to be the theme song in sandwiches that you buy at the airport. Combine that with the slow service and high prices and you could easily get discouraged. Add some of that spice and take a trip directly to flavor town.
Any kind of fruit that I can get away with bringing if I am not flying out of the USA. Bananas are my favorite because they are filling and healthy. I also stock some nuts and some of those small candies they give to kids on Halloween.
Of course all three of these flight bags have a really nice crew bag tags that makes it easy for me to pick out in the crew van. I try find the brightest and easiest ones that can help me find my flight bag. Hopefully this will give you some ideas on what to stock in your flight bag to make work more pleasurable.