Whether you’re a seasoned flyboy, a newbie just trying out his wings, or a window shopper looking up planes for sale , there are a few basics that belong in the cockpit with you:
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Aviator shades are so linked to their reputation as fashion accessories that we sometimes forget that they really were originally made for aviators, and the years haven’t made them any less important for flyers. When making your choice, you need to consider a few things specific to flying: whether the arms are thin enough so your headset won’t press them into the sides of your head and give you a headache; whether the lenses are dark enough and if they’re big enough to protect your peripheral vision; whether they interfere at looking at glass panels the way some polarized lenses do; and whether they’re priced low enough that you’re comfortable with the notion of wearing them regularly and maybe losing or damaging them at some point. Some popular models are the Rayban Aviator, Oakley Juliet, and the Serengeti Velocity.
Comfort is vital in the cockpit, and at the same time some of these don’t have very much space, so you’ll want a nice, comfortable jacket that’s well insulated but thin enough not to crowd the space when you’re wearing it and to fold up into a compact bundle when you stow it in your luggage. It’s also important to have enough space in the hood to accommodate your headset, and wind- and waterproofing are a definite plus, regardless of whether or not you think you’ll need them.
Because you really, really don’t want to get caught without one. Reliability and ease of operation are a must, because the situations where you need it most are are bound to be tricky, and you’ll need your light source to be a help rather than a hindrance. A Maglite flashlight is the gold standard for reliability, but you might want to look at lantern and head-mounted options since these can free up both hands for when you need to do some tinkering.
Given the large amount of tech we tend to carry around these days—phone, tablet, digital camera, laptop, whathaveyou—it’s a hassle when you inevitably find out one or more of the gadgets you’ll be needing is low on juice. Which makes a gadget that recharges other gadgets something really good to have. Some of the better recharging options are solar-powered ones since all you’ll need to charge up the charger is the sun.
Rugged Portable PC
Whether it’s a wristop computer or a handheld, you’ll want to have something handy for calculations and whatnot, and something small definitely helps for cramped cockpits. It also helps if the unit has some weatherproofing so it can keep up with you wherever you need to go. Some companies are manufacturing these specifically for flyers, and a quick google will give you a list of choices to fit your needs and budget.
Brandon Peters is an entrepreneur, writer, and aviation enthusiast. He enjoys few things better than a good takeoff.