Most of you probably know the problem: What is the best way to organize your cockpit? And, closely connected, how do I transport everything from home to my car to ops to the airplane and back? That I am not alone with this question becomes clear when you look at the average selection of flight bags at your preferred aviation supply dealer. Bags, cases, tools in all shapes and sizes, with tons of specialized pockets and bells and whistles. And I have to admit, I also tried various forms, tools and gadgets to find the optimum.
Right now, it seems that I found something that works pretty well in my situation. To be specific: The situation of working as a flight instructor in C172s. The point is, I want to get in and out of the airplane in a hurry and don’t want to spend endless time unpacking and packing my bag and finding places to store my stuff all over the cockpit. And this is what happens with most of these cool bags you are probably looking for or just bought. Shocking truth: Most of them are way too big to keep them in reach in a crammed GA cockpit. Furthermore: Do you really need all the stuff you just organized so neatly in your brand new bag? Be honest … most likely you don’t.
By accident I stumbled across flyboys.com some time ago. Besides their great kneeboard they also have a couple of pubs bags in their program. These are typically used by military pilots to lug the usual set of DoD FLIPs (the military version of the FAA approach plate booklets) to and from the cockpit … plus wallet, soda bottle, sunglasses, etc.
I thought they look neat and ordered the regular and large size each. Over the time I used both extensively. I have to say, both are extremely functional, well thought through and of outstanding quality. However, after comparing both types of pubs bags I have to say that the large one is clearly my favorite:
- It has just the right size to keep everything in it that is really needed during flight.
- Mobile phone
- Nav computer (small one, CPU-26A/P … unfortunately pretty hard to find but build to last) & Plotter (had to shorten that one)
- „Plastic Brain“ (set of important information put in plastic, held together with binder rings)
- Hand held radio
- Pilot log book, licenses
- Pens / Grease pencils
- The form factor allows it to stand upright on the cockpit floor and it fits perfectly between the seats and behind the fuel selector valve in a C172 cockpit (see picture)
- It is large enough that all items go right back into the bag after they are used (small bag holds all listed items as well, but putting stuff back in the heat of the action is somewhat difficult)
- Entering the aircraft I just put my bag in its place, when I leave I just grab the bag and leave … no distributing/collecting stuff before and after the flight.
The only thing I have to carry on top of this are the aircraft documents and my headset. Easy.
In case I go for a longer trip or need additonal stuff to carry around I am currently leaning towards buying a military helmet bag. Not the typical choice, but with a high coolness factor and it gets the job done. Plus, you can easily store it behind the seat. Picture this: Go to the airplane, drop the helmet bag behind the seats after you pulled out the headset, drop the pubs bag between the seats, and you are ready to go. Sounds like fun!
So tell me what you think – any additional ideas or different oppinions you want to share with me and our fellow pilots?