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6 Answers

New flight bags mean no more car needed?

Asked by: 1574 views Flight Instructor

I am in the process of buying a motorcycle and I am doing my PPL but planning to go through to become a CFI in the next year if I can.  My question is with the new electronic apps for iPad eliminating things like paper log books, will I be able to fit everything I need into a backpack or will I still need to take a car to the airport for training?  I live only 15 min from the airport and trying to keep costs down as much as possible cause cost of flight school.  I don't want to hear about the safety of motorcycles I want to know if it is logistically possible without any major issues like rain etc.  Thanks

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6 Answers



  1. Jim F. on Jan 25, 2013

    Sure, it’s possible. There’s a woman at the college I just graduated from that rides a bicycle the 8 or so miles (mostly along a state highway) to the airport. She seems to make do. That being said, I had the same CFI as her for a while, and often heard that she was unprepared for lessons, due to not being able to carry all her books for ground work and the like. She’s also had to cancel flights on days when it was windy or rainy or too cold to ride there, but not nearly bad enough to warrant the flight cancellation. I’ve seen here progress being considerably slower due to this. (Not saying it’s directly related to riding the bike, but she has failed her PPL checkride several times.)

    As for myself personally, I wouldn’t do it. I like to carry quite a bit in my flight bag, and it ends up being 20-30 lbs. I bring a laptop, all the VFR and IFR charts and plates, the FAR/AIM, plus lots of “study books” so I can look something up that I can’t remember, or to kill some time reading/studying while waiting for WX to clear, my aircraft to return, ect… For me, I’d rather bring it with me and not need it, than need it and not have it.

    I realize that as a student pilot starting out, you won’t have all those books and charts, but as you obtain them, I suggest you always bring them with you. It will help greatly if there’s something your instructor is talking about during the ground portion that you want some more knowledge about. Sure, your CFI might have the books for reference, but if you have your own, you can make notes, circle, highlight, ect the important things to remember or research more later.

    Again, that’s just my personal opinion/perspective on the issue, with only one specific example of the negatives. You’ll just have to judge it and work it out for yourself as you progress along. Good luck!

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  2. Best Answer


    jacob conell on Jan 25, 2013

    I used to carry a ton of crap with me. When I started out I bought the Sportys standard flight bag. I almost bought the VFR version but though that I might need more space and I used every bit of it. Until one day I was making the 10 minute walk back to the FBO from the flight schools parking area and I realized that my bag was too heavy. Most of the crap I carried with me I never used and never would need it. So now I have a much smaller bag that can carry all I need. During my flight training my CFI rode a motorcycle and was able to carry all he needed. He used a bungee net to secure his backpack to his bike to make the ride more enjoyable. The Ninja I used to have would have worked out well to. Buy a backpack and a bungee net from your local cycle shop for now before you go out and spend a ton of money on a flight bag that you might not like.

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  3. Kev Hughes on Jan 25, 2013

    Yes I figured with having an iPad and using LogTen and Foreflight etc I will really be able to not have a huge bag with me. Sure they will be more expensive in some ways than having the old school versions but I think long term that is the direction everything is headed so may as well get used to it now. Hopefully you are right Jacob, thanks for the feedback!

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  4. Matthew Waugh on Jan 26, 2013

    If you are really an independent CFI with no base at the airport then I would suggest that, unfortunately, your car is your library and you’re not going to be able to haul all that stuff around on a motorbike. You need access to your library because things are certainly going to come up when you’re going to need to refer to it – and blowing the answer off until you get home is unsatisfactory (but I guess you could, your option).

    You do not need to take your library flying.

    If you have a base, a desk, somewhere you can store your library then problem solved.

    If you just need the stuff to go flying then yes, a motorcycle can easily carry what you need. In fact as a CFI you need to carry very little because, after all, your student needs to be carrying all the various needed bits and pieces – no point both of you schlepping that stuff around.

    The other practical matters you raise, rain, snow etc., well those are problems riding a motorcycle anyway. You’ll need the right riding gear, and you’ll want a waterproof backpack, or saddlebags. It’s possible – it just takes a little thought and preparation.

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  5. Mark Kolber on Jan 26, 2013

    <>I’d say you will. I used to ride and carried my flight stuff in a backpack except when going on a multi-day cross country flight.

    The key is the iPad. There is nothing I can think of in a CFI’s library that is not available electronically and easily accessible on a tablet.

    With respect to the logbook, note that as a pilot other than a student, recreational or sport pilot, there is no regulatory requirement to carry yours with you.

    That said, you may still want to carry yours when =receiving= instruction since instruction must be signed by the instructor. They may be fine, but I am not yet completely satisfied of the efficacy of electronic logs when it comes to the receipt of endorsements.

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  6. Matthew Waugh on Jan 27, 2013

    Mark makes a good point about almost all your needed library being available electronically and thus can be carried on a iPad or equivalent.

    Thus I withdraw my point about “your car is your library” – just because mine was 10 years ago doesn’t make the point valid today 🙂

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