When you start your PPL course it’s hard to know what flight equipment you really need to buy. Apart from a few personal blogs, there isn’t much information on this kind of stuff. But luckily i’ve been in this position myself so i’m able to advise you on what flight equipment I found to be (a) necessary, and (b) optional. This might save you a few quid!
Necessary Flight Equipment for the PPL(A)
- CAA Map (1:250,000 or 1:500,000 scale)
- Pack of pens
- Navigational Plog (A4 or A5)
- CRP-5 Flight Computer
- NM ruler (1:250,000 or 1:500,000 scale)
1. CAA Map
You’ll need a CAA map in 1:250,000 or 1:500,000 scale.
By law you have to carry a valid and up-to-date chart during flight. So you should buy one before your first solo — which will be approximately 10-15 hours into your training. Technically the map you carry doesn’t have to be your own (i.e. you could borrow one). But I recommend buying one from a flight equipment website.
There’s a selection of 1:500,000 scale maps available at Flightstore. The price per map is around £15.00, but varies depending on the region. Check them out here.
Be careful: charts expire every year. If you fly infrequently then you'll end up buying new ones without getting much use from your previous version.
A watch is needed for Navigations. It doesn’t have to be an expensive pilot-branded one. Just a normal one will do.
3. Pack of Pens
You’ll have to update your log book after each flight, and make general notes. Any pen will suffice.
For your charts I recommend buying a set of Staedtler Chart Permanent Pens. The ink doesn’t rub off too easily (which is a good thing) — but it can also be removed with a special eraser afterwards. Four different colours is sufficient.
Tip: Like with Fly GA products, if you order £20+ of items from Amazon UK then delivery is free. Why not combine your pens with one of our products?
4. Navigational Plog
PLOG stands for “Pilot Log”. The PLOG is used to record details of crew members, scheduled & actual times, the flight plan, and the navigation log, which includes:
- Mag tracks
- Fuel remaining
- Distance to go
- Safety alt
- ETA , ATA & actual FL
- Fuel plan
… and so on!
The PLOG is an important addition to your flight bag, and the cheapest item on this list.
5. CRP-5 Flight Computer
You’ll inevitably need a CRP Flight Computer or “Whizz Wheel” during the PPL course. This is commonly used for PPL and ATPL examinations.
You’ll use the CRP to calculate the heading, and to estimate the time it takes to fly each leg of your planned journey. Both of these things very much depend on the wind. The CRP uses the triangle of velocities to give you a ground speed and wind correction angle, given the wind speed, direction, your intended heading and air speed. This sounds confusing at first — but a flight computer is a simple and easy-to-use 1950’s technology. Everything is fully explained on your course.
You’re best to purchase your CRP early on so that you can get to grips with using it (try YouTubing some tutorials*). Unfortunately they aren’t cheap.
*We’ll include a tutorial on CRP Computers once we release our own Fly GA version.
6. NM Ruler
A Nautical Mile (NM) Ruler will be needed for the Navigation PPL(A) subject. Ensure that it’s 1:250,000 or 1:500,000 in scale.
You wouldn’t usually fly in a straight line for more then 60 nautical miles for your PPL. Most students fly triangle routes where each leg is around 50 NM. Therefore a large ruler is unnecessary — the shorter one is more suitable.
Take your pick from the Pooley’s range here.
This isn’t the same protractor you get in a school maths set! There are specific ones for aviation.
Protractors quickly measure short journey legs, and prevent pilots from unnecessarily using additional rulers. It’s a simple product, but it helps to make flight planning more accurate.
Pooley’s supply several of their own protractors, including the PP-3 Round Protractor (which I recommend). Prices start at around £6.00. The full range is here.
Optional Flight Equipment for the PPL(A)
- Knee Board
- High Viz Jacket/Vest
- Books & Guides
- Diversion Ruler
- Compass Rose Stickers
1. Knee Board
It’s basically a clipboard for making notes and holding paperwork whilst you’re in the air. An A5 sized knee board is sufficient.
A knee board is optional for the PPL because there isn’t a great deal of writing. For example, you don’t need to write down a pressure setting to read off to an airport because it’s set (by you) on the Altimeter. You only need to really remember the ATIS Information Identifier. For taxiing its usually obvious — via Alpha, Charlie or Grass, etc. You will need to identify the surface wind, but in the early lessons this won’t matter to you.
Either way, a knee board isn’t going to break the bank. You can buy a cheap, sufficient one — like the AFE VB1 — for under £20.
You can usually borrow a headset from your flight school. However, I personally opted to buy my own. To be honest it wasn’t necessary, and I knew this at the time of purchase. But I wanted my own, new, higher quality set. They last a long time and I have every intentions to continue pursuing a flying career — so why not?
The most expensive — and near enough best — headsets on the market are the Bose A20’s. They’ll set you back a whopping £1,000. Thankfully, you don’t need to buy those for your PPL (unless you really, really want them). You should be looking to spend around the £300 mark.
Many PPL(A) students opt for the David Clark headsets. It’s a good, reliable brand. You won’t be the only person in your school using them. Their ‘best value’ option is the H10-30 headset, which comes with a 5 year guarantee.
3. High Viz Jacket/Vest
High Viz is short for “High Visibility”. These fluorescent yellow jackets/vests comply with the European standard for Class 1 safety wear. They usually have two reflective bands across the torso, and brace straps across each shoulder.
Your airfield may require that you wear one. They’ll either supply you with one for free, or ask you to buy one. Prices vary depending on whether its a vest (cheap) or jacket (more expensive). In any case they’re not particularly expensive. You’d be unlucky to have to fork out more than £30.
4. Books & Guides
You don’t need to buy books or guides at the beginning of your PPL unless you’re taking an intensive course.
It’s not advisable to buy an entire set of guides in one go because the PPL syllabus changes so frequently. You’re best off waiting it out and buying the specific books you need as and when you’re studying each subject.
The well-known flight stores sell revision guides on each of the 9 PPL Subjects. AFE is good for this, and their complete range is available here. However, these are also sold on Amazon where you usually take advantage of a better deal.
VFR Flight Guides are not required. Your club/instructor will be able to provide you with the information for where you’ll fly as part of your training.
A pre-flight checklist is a list of tasks that should be performed by pilots and aircrew prior to takeoff. Its purpose is to improve flight safety by ensuring that no important tasks are forgotten. Checklists are different for every plane.
You need a checklist — but you often don’t need to buy them. Your club/airfield tends to supply them to students.
6. Diversion Ruler
We manufacture Diversion Rulers to help student pilots undertake the PPL. Whilst it’s not a necessary tool, it certainly makes Diversions an awful lot easier. To learn how it works, check out our tutorial: How To Use The Fly GA Diversion Ruler/Plotter
7. Compass Rose Stickers
It’s not mandatory that you buy VFR stickers. But again, it makes life easier.
Navigational aids — such as self-adhesive Compass Rose Stickers — are a simple advancement in the aviation world. They’re just stickers, and they’re relatively inexpensive to purchase compared with GPS packages. Of course Compass Rose Stickers aren’t going to navigate you to your chosen destination, but they are however very handy when approaching an unfamiliar aerodrome. (Plus I don’t feel like i’m ‘cheating’ too much by using them). You can read more about VFR Aids here: VFR Flying Aids — Are They Worth Using?
The Fly GA Compass Rose Stickers accompany the Diversion Ruler. Hence why we sometimes give them free with the MR-1.
► Final notes…
There are so many items of flight equipment that you could buy to make flying easier. But bare in mind that certain items — such as GPS systems — are forbidden during PPL examinations.
To keep costs down stick with the necessary flight equipment listed on this page.