Introduction to Ultralight Aviation

Pilot Shopping - What Does the Ultralight Pilot Need?

We talk so much about airplanes here. But if you are a pilot, the airplane isn't the only thing you need to think about. Flying an ultralight often involves equipment, tools and clothing. Choosing it is part of the fun. Let's see what you may need. Oh yes, and if you have a friend pilot, all these things make great gifts.

The aviation accessory industry is huge so we'll just quickly cover the most important categories of stuff for pilots.

Receivers and transceivers

The radio can save life or just help coordinate flying with on-land activities. Receivers and transceivers are also used for communication between pilots of different aircraft and so on. A good aircraft receiver costs about $50 or so. The transceivers are more complicated machines. This AirBand one is $200. When buying an aircfaft radio for an ultralight airplane don't forget its weight. The lighter, the better.

Checklists

Aircraft checklists are sets of instructions for a specific aircraft. A checklist contains the aircraft characteristics and the steps required to ensure aircaft safety. For example most checklists contain the steps required to do interior or exterior inspection, the steps to do before and after landing, the steps before taking off, and so on.

Paper based checklists are usually sold for $10 or so. You can download free checklists for many airplanes from this site. You can then print them or use them on a tablet computer during the flight.

Survival bags

No one wants to think about accidents in aviation. But your flying will feel much safer if you get prepared. The survival bags and survival kits come in place here. The survival bags are in practice life jackets similar to the ones that are given in the commercial flights. The survival kits on the other hand contain various items that can help you in emergency situation - this may include medical supplies, ropes, flashlights, duct tape, and so on. Most kits aren't designed only for pilots and can be used in other situations as well. Here is one really good pocket survival kit.

Flight computers

No, don't think about laptop or tablet. The flight computer is an analog device used for calculating wind correction, ground speed, fuel burn, time of arrival and so on. There are new electronic flight computers available but a good retro-style E6B flight computer makes a super cool gift for every pilot.

Headsets

The purpose of pilot headset is to ensure communication abilities along with cancelling the unwanted noise from the engine. Every ultralight pilot needs one. Pilots of two-seat airplanes need a pair so they can communicate with the passenger. Good pilot headsets cost $100 - $200 or more. RA200 Rugged Air Aviation Headset Pilot are priced on the lower end and look good.

Kneeboards

Pilot kneeboards are used as desks during flight. Nowadays many kneeboards are planned for attaching an electronic device like iPad or other tabled. If you prefer good classic kneeboards, they are still available and cheap. This one here is a trifold one - very practical and costs only $28.

Logbooks

Logbooks are useful to log your flights, track in-flight progress, weather briefing and so on. Currently electronic/software based logbooks are more popular because you can hold them in your tablet along with other software and information you may need. A lot of these logbooks are available for free or for few bucks on iPhone / Android markets. If you still prefer a paper based logbook, these usually cost less than $10.

Navigation plotters

Pilots use them to quickly plot courses, or determine true and magnetic courses. These devices combine a rules and a protractor, and has flight scales. Such a thing makes a great gift even for aviation enthusiast who isn't a pilot yet. They are also quite affordable, usually costing between $5 and $20. This one is great and costs only $13.

Pilot clothing

This category is the biggest source of gift ideas for pilots, kids of pilots, and everyone who loves aviation. There are gloves, hats, glasses, shirts, jackets, helmets, uniforms, and so on. This is stuff you can enjoy even without being a pilot yourself.



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