Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Choosing a Flight Bag

Whether you travel the world as a professional pilot or you are a new student embarking on your private pilot licence, a flight bag is a must to hold all your flight gear.
With so many pilot flight bags to choose from, the staff at Touch & Go Pilot Supply decided to compile points to consider when choosing a flight bag.

All flight bags offered on our website are tried and tested and proven to be durable. As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to get the best you can afford. Here are some tips on how to select the best Aviation Flight Bag for you.

What's in the Bag?Everyone has individual needs. Some pilots prefer a small flight bag that will hold just the required basics. Students like a large flight bag that can hold books in addition to required pilot supplies. Through experience, getting a flight bag on the larger side makes the most sense for most students.

Once your training commences, you may find that you need to carry more pilot supplies than anticipated. This includes typical flight items such charts, logbooks etc. Most pilots flight bags offer separate sections/pouches for headsets, additional electrical equipement such as transceivers, GPS. At times, you will find that you require the extra space to carry acquired pilot gear or for those living in colder climates, a jacket.

All pilot flight bags are designed to offer convenient interior and exterior pockets and pouches for holding required flight items. Some bags, like Sky High Gear Flight Bags are designed with an exclusive Co-Pilot feature like in the Voyager Flight Bag that folds out so that they stay open with all your required pilot supplies within easy reach during flight.

The FAA mandates that all pilots carry their licence, medical and photo ID. In addition, a complete flight manual for the aircraft flown must also be on board. In order to keep the pilot and the cockpit organized, flight bags provide convenient dividers/sections for these items and to allow easy access to checklists, navigational charts, flight planning materials, directories, pen, flashlight or emergency equipment.

As such, we at TAG have put together a Flight Bag Size Chart that outlines the dimensions of every flight bag and headset bag so that comparisons can be made and the most appropriate size flight bag selected.

FabricThe traditional hard flight cases provide the most protection although they are much heavier than soft sided flight bags. This is most often the preference of commercial pilots since the aircraft is designed to allow sufficient crew space for for Flight Case storage. Wheeled Flight Cases are available and the handle and wheels come in handy when walking long distances in airports.

Soft-sided flight bags are made from Dernier Cordura, Ballistic Nylon or Leather. Less expensive bags are made with 600 Dernier Polyester. More expensive, and more durable ones, are made of 1000 Dernier Cordura or a Ballistic Nylon. These fabrics provide better wear quality.

Dernier is a measure of the fineness of a fabric. As a rule of thumb, the higher the dernier, the stronger the fabric. It is best to select a minimum of 600-1800 dernier polyester toward the least expensive end and 500-100 Dernier Cordura or 1800 to 2500 Ballistic Nylon at the more expensive end.

Cordura resists abrasion, puncture and wear and tear very well. Ballistic Nylon performs as well, or better, and is a smoother fabric that attracts less dust and lint.
Seams, Straps and Zippers
Shoulder Straps
All larger flight bags come with detachable shoulder straps which is critical because this is most often what you hold your bag with. Small flight bags that are not designed to carry a lot of pilot supplies may have hooks designed from durable plastic but for medium size flight bags and large flight bags, the hooks on the strap can be made out of either sturdy plastic or metal. All shoulder straps are adjustable to fit your body most comfortably. The pad attached to the strap must be movable and padded to prevent both slippage and cutting into the shoulder.
If you prefer to carry your flight bag diagonally on your shoulder, the shoulder straps can extend long enough to get over your head.

According to Noral Enterprises, a U.S. manufacturer of flight bags, the seams on a flight bag are double stitched and reinforced with a cross stitch. Flight bags are made with special attention to the seams to prevent them from falling apart with consistent wear and tear.

ZippersA flight bag's zippers are also an important feature in the life and quality of the bag. As a rule of thumb, the YKK brand zippers provide the best consistent quality. Noral uses the YKK Heavy Duty Zipper. Some other flight bag manufacturers use a larger than normal zipper. All flight bags use metal zippers as opposed to plastic. Some flight bag zippers come with zipper pulls attached to the zipper tabs. This makes the bag easier to open and close.

Personal Preference
Keeping the above factors in mind, in the end, it all comes down to personal preference. Size, color, and style should be determined based on individual needs and requirements. Touch & Go Pilot Supply has categorized all flight bags to assist pilots select the most appropriate flight bag for their needs. Here is a break down of each of these categories:

Headset Bags
Small Flight Bags
Medium Flight Bags
Large Flight Bags
Leather Flight Bags
Flight Cases
Flight Bags by Manufacturer
View All Flight Bags

We recommend that you review the information provided to figure out what type of flight bag would best meet your needs.