What Must Pilots Carry?

What Must Pilots Carry

The following list applies to small time private pilots and big shot airline pilots.

Inside the bag, you’ll need to pack the following:

Pilot Certificate

The FAA states that all pilots must carry their certificate when flying and aircraft. If you lose your certificate, then you will be grounded until you can replace it.

The certificate is so important that many pilots actually carry their certificates in their wallets. This means they still have it even if their bag goes missing. This is generally only a problem for airline pilots who have to check their bags.

Medical Clearance

This is also required by the FAA. You must have proof of your current medical certification on your person.

As with the pilot certificate, many pilots choose to carry this on their person to avoid the risk of it getting rest.


This is not a stated FAA requirement unless you are a student completing a cross-country flight. For all other pilots this is optional.

It’s generally advised by FAA examiners and experienced pilots that you leave your logbook at home. It is such an important document, even more so than your certificate and medical.

You absolutely do not want to lose your logbook. It is the record of all your flights and is used as proof for your license, ratings, and endorsements.

Your medical and certificate can be replaced, but it’s a lot harder to replace your logbook with all that information.

Electronic Flight Bag

As we mentioned earlier, pilots used to carry their maps, charts, and navigational information in their flight bag.

This has mostly been replaced by tablets which are referred to as electronic flight bags.

Pilots need to make sure they have their tablet with them to help them with situational awareness, navigation, and route planning.

The tablets are loaded with apps like ForeFlight and Garmin Pilot. These apps are designed to help pilots quickly and effectively carry out their jobs.

Some pilots like to carry paper charts as well as their electronic flight bag. This might be a good idea in case of emergencies.


Not every aircraft will be supplied with a headset. Make sure you bring your own and make sure it is charged. It’s also a great idea to bring some extra batteries.

Your headset is key to communicating with the towers and your passengers.

If you haven’t already got your headset, make sure you look for a pair that is comfortable, noise cancelling, and come with a good microphone.

Kneeboard, pen, and paper.

You’ll be forgiven for thinking that this is old fashioned. However, when you’re up in the air, you don’t have the luxury of a smart desk to make notes on.

Your kneeboard, pen and paper will allow you to make quick notes, calculations, and instructions on a semi-stable surface.

Fuel tester with screwdriver.

Before you begin your flight, you need to carry out a pre-flight check. This involves checking the fuel for water and contaminates.

These checks are carried out with a fuel tester. These are small, pen sized devices that don’t take up masses of room.

If you can nab one with a screwdriver tip you’ve got yourself a multi-functional tool.

Chargers, cables, and batteries.

If you’re relying on your electronic flight bag for your charts, navigation, maps you need to make sure they’re going to last the course.

Make sure you have all the chargers and cables that you need to keep your devices powered up.

Flashlight and emergency supplies.

In the event of an emergency, you’re going to want to be prepared for as many eventualities as possible.

A flashlight is a definite must, so is food, water, a spare radio, and a first aid kit. You can increase your survival kit as you see fit, but this is a great starting point.

Your flashlight will also come in handy during your pre-flight checks. Some pilots prefer to have a head torch, so they can go hands free.

Non-polarized sunglasses.

Sunglasses aren’t about looking cool. They’re about keeping the sun out of your eyes. If you’re flying above the cloud level, it’s always sunny, so you need to protect your eyes.

Non-polarized glasses are preferred because they let you read the instruments better than polarized glasses.

This is because polarized glasses block out some additional wavelengths of light. This might seem like a good idea, but those wavelengths are also used in the digital display screens of many instruments.