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Flight School Supply List. What supplies you really need for a private pilot license.

Posted by on August 29, 2008 5 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog Tags : , ,

Like most parents at this time of year, I’m making my daily trek to Wal-mart to buy school supplies for my kids. Even if you don’t have kids, I’m sure you can remember being sent home with a list of needed school supplies that ranged from protractors to rulers. Good times.

If you are just starting your flight or ground pilot training, you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the different supplies and accessories that are available for the beginning pilot. One look at a Sporty’s catalog or website will have you convinced that there are a lot of things you need to buy in order to become a pilot. When you get a little bit of experience under your belt, you’ll be more convinced that companies make a lot of money selling pilot supplies that are absolutely not necessary. So in my role as your online ground instructor, I’ve prepared a “Flight School Supply List.” Only the things you need and nothing you don’t. So here we go. Don’t show up to class without them:

(the items link to mypilotstore.com an affiliate of Askacfi.com)

  • Good sunglasses. You can get an artifical heart, lungs, hip and just about everything else except your eyes (for now anyway). Take good care of the ones you have by investing in a good pair of sunglasses, just don’t lose them. My personal recommendation? Serengeti Salto S-Flex. Great lenses and comfortable with even the stiffest headset.
  • Headset. If you are just starting out, don’t buy a headset until you solo. Until then, borrow a pair from your flight school or instructor. Once you’re ready to make that investment, don’t waste your money buying anything but the best set available. There are only two headsets I recommend, David Clark or Bose. This is not an advertisement but the advice of someone who has tried just about every pair of headset out there and has learned that Bose X is by far the quietest and most comfortable headsets I have ever worn. The runner-up and value award going to David Clark H10-13.4 The number 13.4 represents how many ounces they weigh. You can’t break em either, I’ve tried.
  • Basic Logbook. Don’t get anything too fancy. Just a good basic logbook. All flight schools will have one for sale.
  • Books. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of books you can purchase. Here are the 7 books you’ll need to purchase (in order of importance):
  • Basic Aluminum E6B Flight Computer just get a plain old E6B. Learn the basics before purchasing an electronic flight computer.
  • Simple Fixed Plotter (for cross country flight planning). As simple as possible.
  • Current VFR Sectional for your area if you fly in a really busy area, the appropriate terminal chart would also be recommended.
  • Flashlight. Don’t get the biggest, heaviest, or most expensive flashlight (you’ll lose it) just one that is small and bright enough to comfortably take with you in your flight bag. Smith and Wesson makes a nice small bright 6 LED Flashlight that is pretty good.
  • Good flight bag. There are a myriad of options when it comes to flight bags. Get one that isn’t so big you’ll never use after training but one that can at least hold a toothbrush, toothpaste and a pair of skivvies for your cross-country or short overnight. The Sky High Gear Freedom VII Flight Bag is pretty well recommended.

I think that just about covers it. You’ll be tempted to add more stuff to your shopping cart, but don’t. You’ll only rack up more costs to your flight training which is getting too expensive as it is. I wish I had this list when I was going through flight school. I was the favorite customer of my local pilot store and they saw me coming from a mile away. My shelves and flight bags are still packed with all kind of useless junk like fancy kneeboards and holding computers. Just stick to the basics and as your flying expands you can slowly add to the list (but you won’t need to add much).

Feel free to comment if you think I forgot something or have a recommendation of your own.

Fly Safe.


  1. Doug Toppin on Aug 29, 2008

    a tri-fold kneeboard is the only other think that i would recommend. the bag link you included looks like a good one. someone that i fly with has a much larger bag (i think a small spare pilot could fit in it) and i use the bag that came with the jeppesen ground school courses that my school uses. i’ve been looking to get a better (but not ginormous) bag so i may give your link a try. i definitely prefer my aluminum e-6b (and i recommend this book on it http://www.learnthee6b.com/) over my original cheap paper one (that folder over one day).
    tks for the link

  2. flightschools on Sep 21, 2011

    Yes you are right as I am just starting my ground pilot training really I am finding myself overwhelmed by all the different supplies and accessories that are available for the beginning pilot. Thanks to the publisher of this site for providing these 7 books details. Really nice and informative information.

  3. Hugh shaw on Dec 27, 2013

    Ther are a lot of info on the FAA.gov website, I found the private pilot practical test standards book there and it was free! As was lot more books you will need.

  4. John Robinson on Apr 17, 2017

    I just want to say thank you for this. I’ve been searching endlessly on the internet for something like this. So yes thank you.

  5. Thankful Newbie on Jan 27, 2018

    Thank you for this list. definitely helpful!

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