Even when we’re not flying – whether because of weather, our busy lives, or something else, we still think about soaring in the air. A great way to lose yourself in the love of aviation – without leaving the ground – is to curl up with good book and a cup of coffee. So, we prepared a list of 10 of the best aviation related books, recommended by other readers to be on every pilot’s bookshelf. Enjoy!
1. Airman’s Odyssey by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. A trilogy of Saint-Exupery’s three novels – Wind, Sand and Stars, Night Flight, and Flight to Arras – Airman’s Odyssey is sure to please. Saint-Exupery is better known for his children’s book The Little Prince, but was an aviator (and writer) in the heady days of early flight. As such, he is able to conjure up the romance and the reality of the pioneer era of aviation.
2. Beyond the Checkride by Howard Fried and Gene Gailey. A practical book, it’s also an easy read. Packed with invaluable lessons from real-life experiences of hundreds of pilots, it includes rarely taught basics, including maneuvering speed, propeller safety and night flying, human factors that affect flying, interactions with air traffic control, flying with your pet, and more. Legendary flight instructor Howard Fried was the original author and the book was thoroughly revised by veteran pilot Gene Gailey.
When asking more experienced private pilots what they considered “essential” gear for a student pilot, the first answer I got was “refills for your checkbook”. A bit old-fashioned, maybe (a better answer today would be “a higher credit balance”), but to some degree still true.
But there is still a need for some gear, even for a just-starting-out student pilot. Within the items that pilots deem “essential” is wide range of quality and price. What you ultimately purchase is more connected to personal preference and budget than anything else. Here is a list of the 10 items of essential gear for student pilots:
1. Logbook. If you are a student pilot, you want your flight time recorded, so you’ve got to have a logbook for your instructor to note your training time. Go cheap or go quality, but you’ve got to have one. Look here for a wider range of options.
2. Notepad or Planning Log. Many pilots recommend a cheap Mead notepad, which is fine, but a student pilot might appreciate something a little more structured so nothing is forgotten. Click here or the picture above for the ASA Flight Planner Pad.
3. Writing instrument. Go with a pencil (or several in case the lead breaks) or a pen, but you’ve got to have a writing instrument close at hand to write down air traffic control (ATC) instructions. Try the Skilcraft B3 Aviation Multi-function Pen with red and black ink, as well as a 0.5mm pencil – all in one!
I recall my first flight instruction lesson and putting on the headset provided by the flight school – sufficient, but hardly high quality, the microphone arm a bare metal lever with no foam cover on the mic itself. I adjusted the headset to fit my head, only to have to repeat the process a few moments later. Small movements of my jaw were all it took for the earcups to let noise in from the Cessna engine outside.
When I looked over to my instructor, he had the Bose A20s on his head, apparently with no such struggles. I remember thinking that while I didn’t want to spring for the Bose A20 quite yet, I sure didn’t want the cheap set on my head either. I figured there must be some mid-range pilot headphones that would be much better quality but at a more manageable price. We’ve already covered the Bose A20 and the Bose A20’s Top 3 Alternatives. Let’s now look at the best value mid-range aviation headsets.
1. David Clark DC Pro-X. This on-ear aviation headset comes with a magnesium alloy headband that evenly distributes headset weight for a comfortable fit. The leatherette head pad is breathable and vented to virtually eliminate “hot spots” and keep the top of the head cool during long flights. Hybrid electronic noise cancellation and Bluetooth wireless technology. 1.9 lbs. 5 year limited warranty.
We’ve completed a review already on the Bose A20 Aviation Headset, which has long been touted as the best in the industry for a private pilot. But are there alternatives that compete with the Bose A20? You bet there are! And several may be a better value too. There are a lot of cheaper aviation headsets, but let’s talk about the top 3 alternatives to the Bose A20. To make the cut, the headset must have ANR (active noise reduction) and have a Bluetooth option.
1. Lightspeed Zulu 3. Lightspeed has been releasing aviation headsets since 1996 and their latest product, the Lightspeed Zulu is an aviation headset they claim is superior to its competitors. Many happy Lightspeed Zulu 3 wearing pilots agree, and Lightspeed says that professional pilots that flew with the Zulu 3 and “the nearest competitor” prefer the Zulu 3 by 3-to-1. The Zulu 3 is also backed by a 7 year warranty, besting the Bose A20, which is covered by a 5 year limited warranty. Weight is only 14.6 oz, which is only slightly more heavy than the Bose A20, which is 12 oz.
The holidays are coming soon (like an aircraft on final approach! LOL) and that pilot boyfriend or pilot husband (or any other pilot in your life) is going to love some of the aviation gifts available this year. We’ve curated several worthy of consideration below:
1. Silver Airplane Coasters. Fun coasters made to look like avionic instruments. Made of nickel, which won’t tarnish, this makes a great stocking stuffer this holiday season. Part of the Aviator Tavern collection of Godinger Silver Art.
2. Bush Pilot Bag. This Flight Outfitter canvas-and-leather duffle has signature orange interior and pockets designed for a pilot. Add that it’s super-attractive and this is a winning gift for the pilot in your life!
Whether you’re a veteran pilot or just starting (or looking to start) flight school, you’ll need a pilot logbook to track your flight time and experience. The logbook is an often overlooked accessory, but it’s something that you’ll be carrying with you for a long time. You’ve got some great options, though, so check this list before you get stuck with a paper booklet again:
1. The Standard Pilot Log. At 110 pages, this industry standard for over 30 years from Aviation Supplies and Academics (ASA) is a great option. Hard cover, 9 x 5.5 inches. Other sizes, colors available.
The Bose A20 Aviation Headset is popular with private pilots for a reason – it strikes a great balance between comfort, clarity and quiet. Bose was one of the first to provide ANR (active noise reduction) technology and stays on the top of the heap because it is constantly improving. Available with or without bluetooth (depending on how important using your mobile phone or listening to music is to you), the battery life is reportedly up to 45 hours with only 2 AA batteries. Weighing only 12 ounces, Bose asserts that this aviation headset has 30% less clamping force and 30% better noise reduction than conventional headsets.
Click here for a list of some excellent Pilot Logbook options!
The “right” pilot bag, or flight bag, is a personal preference, but at minimum,should have plenty of room for your gear, have good organization, be comfortable to carry, and look good. These pilot bags all fit the bill and look great too:
1. Flight Gear HP Crosswind Bag. With electric blue accents on an attractive black and light grey bag, the Flight Gear HP Crosswind Bag looks great. Offered by Sporty’s, this duffle style bag has pockets for a padded headset and an iPad, and exterior pockets for your fuel tester and water bottle. Great for student pilots and the weekend warrior.
2. The Lift Travel Bag. The Flight Outfitters The Lift Travel Bag is the perfect bag for small spaces, but still carries your essential items. Made out of durable nylon and having reinforced braided steel handles, this attractive bag has enough interior room for your primary and backup headsets. A personal favorite for the bright orange accents and the small size.
Whether you’re a VFR or an IFR pilot, you need access to a strong surface for inflight note taking, as well as quick reference to important information. A kneeboard is what many pilots use to accomplish those things – and we consider it a pilot essential. The value is well worth the reasonable cost. Here are 3 different options that will serve most pilots well:
1. ASA KB-1 VFR Kneeboard. This is a durable brushed aluminum kneeboard that has a permanent placard of important information. Velcro straps to secure to your leg while sitting in the airplane. ASA also makes an IFR version – the ASA KB-2.
2. Flyboys IFR/VFR Kneeboard. Coming in multiple colors, this kneeboard is perfect for a pilot that wants his checklist, notepad and writing instruments close at hand. If you’re an IFR pilot, this kneeboard has eyelets that correspond to Jeppesen approach plates and chart protectors. At 9″ x 6.6″, this kneeboard is small enough to not get in the way and large enough to get the job done.
3. iPad Kneeboard Folio C. There are several available kneeboards for tablets, but we like this one. It is well conceived and accommodates almost any 9″-10″ tablet. Leather sheathed, it can be used as a kneeboard or a lapboard. As a kneeboard, it can be attached to either leg. One of our favorite features is that the clipboard can be attached magnetically to either the front or the inside of the cover. Finding a better – and more flexible – tablet kneeboard would be hard.
Looking for a great new Pilot Bag?