Tools of the Trade

When you take your first steps to becoming a pilot, there will be a few things you’ll definitely need to have and a few things you’ll probably want to have.

In the “must have” category are some things that, collectively, will probably cost a few hundred dollars:

• Logbook. Not only does your logbook record the strict details of your training flight to prove your experience to the FAA, it also serves as a repository for your memories of your flights. In addition to the simple recording of flight hours, I use my logbook to record the names of people I fly with, where we went, what we did and saw, what the weather was like, and an item or two that will remind me of the flight years later.

Student logbooks are relatively inexpensive, certainly less than $20. Larger, more durable, and more comprehensive professional logbooks can get a little pricey, so remember: You’ll have plenty of supplies to buy; you might not want to go top-shelf for the simple things just yet.

• Headphones. Headphones are important, and your instructor will probably insist that you buy a set. The very best can cost hundreds of dollars, and they’re worth it. Headphones allow crew members to speak to each other easily while they hush much of the engine noise. The top-line models feature noise-canceling circuits that are startlingly effective—but be prepared to pay a lot more money for them.

• Charts, books, and flight-planning paraphernalia. Y our instructor will have a lot of suggestions on what you should buy. One thing you’ll certainly need is an electronic flight calculator. These are specially programmed calculators that store many of the formulas of flight planning in a memory chip to make plotting courses and accounting for winds a snap, not to mention the dozens of other calculations required to plan a flight.

Tools of the Trade

By the Book

Right calculator! are speedy,

technologically advanced venions of the old-fashioned slide rules that pilots have used for genera­tions to calculate everything from how many miles they can fly on the amount of fuel in the tanks to deducing how fast the wind is blowing and from which dire ebon.

Flight calculators come in a variety of price ranges. Ask around for the model that has the best features for what you want to do. ASA and Jeppesen both put out quality models, but try them out in your airport’s pilot’s shop before buying.

Navigation charts, specialized flight clipboards to hold the charts on, specialized navigation protractors, and a handful of other necessities will probably cost under $100, depending on how thrifty you are and how hard you look for a bargain.

Tools of the Trade

Plane Talk

The art of using the venerable old slide rules, which come in two forms called E6B and CR-2, is in danger of being lost on a fresh generation of flight calculator-poking pilots, but a flyer who is comfortable “spinning the wheel* of the CR-2 has a bond with the great pilots of the past Even on the flight decks of the largest ultra-high tech jumbo jets, you’re likely to find a veteran old captain with a CR-2 tucked away in his shirt pocket "just in case.*’

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