The Thrifty Pilot
Top 10 Aviation Must Have's Under $10
Aviation, in general, can be expensive, however, some very useful everyday items are actually quite inexpensive and extremely useful. Below are some of the items that I personally carry at all times onboard my aircraft and can be purchased for $10 or less! After checking them out, let me and the other readers know what you would add or replace on this list.
1 - Flashlight -
Ah, the trusty old flashlight one of the staples of aviation and especially useful during night missions. Some of the aspects of a flashlight that I look for are ones that are relatively small, provide a nice clean bright red light and have a clip so I can secure it to my flight bag. Knowing where a flashlight is and being able to quickly retreive it is key to staying safe.
2 - Blanket (compact) -
Comfort to your passengers is key to a smooth flight. Even on those solo missions during fall and winter I utilize these little blankets for myself. Cockpits can be drafty environments and having the small luxury of a blanket makes any flight much more comfortable. These little blankets are compact, lightweight and provide the perfect warmness during those chilly flights.
3 - Sick Bag -
Yep, it's a fact of flight that some passengers, even the well-traveled, will get ill. Although it is not a common occurrence, having these little bags at the ready can save a flight and your interior! When looking for these little bags, make sure that they are made for the job. These bags will be watertight, large and sealable.
4 - Snacks -
These little guys are high in protein and will keep you and your passengers happy. Almost every time I have flown with a passenger they have gotten a little hungry or asked for the "peanuts". Having a snack for them is helpful, plus who doesn't like eating snacks while flying :)
5 - Disposable Urinals -
There is nothing worse than having to deviate your flight due to needing to use the restroom. Whether you are in a remote part of the country, trying to make time or just don't want the hassle of breaking from your route, a disposable urinal is here to save the day. These bags and ones like them are specially made for the job and are made to accommodate all flyers.
6 - A 6 pack of baby wipes (see what I did there) -
Having a baby has changed my perspective and at times in ways that I never thought. One of these new admirations is that of the humble baby wipe. I honestly think I have used more of these little wipes for myself than on my child! They are used for all kinds of messes and cleaning. These types of wipes are very gentle on both your person, on materials and are surprisingly tough! I have used them to clean up oil, wipe off my visors and a host of other aviation-related activities. Even if you don't have a child, everyone should be carrying around at least a pack or two of these little miracles.
7 - Aviation Fuel Tester -
Staying safe means checking your fuel constantly and consistently. Having contaminants or water in your fuel is bad news. Having the proper fuel tester is an easy and inexpensive way to determine the health of your aviation fuel. Make sure to get one that is easy to use, will fit your fuel sump valves and has a screwdriver. There have been many times I used the little screwdriver on my Piper to make sure various screws are snugged down.
8 - Pitot Tube cover -
Even if your plane is stored in a hanger, there is a possibility that bugs or debris can find their way into your pitot tube. You can avoid the frustration of missing a flight by making sure your pitot tube is securely covered and clear. When looking for a good pitot cover make sure that the cover is compatible with your aircraft, it provides a secure fit and it is easy to spot!
9 - Pens (retractable) -
The pen is mightier than the sword and having a good reliable pen is paramount to a smooth flight with much less anxiety. I personally write a lot while in the air. Keeping track of squawk codes, airport weather conditions, routes, etc. Having a reliable pen keeps me on track. When looking for a pen make sure to get a pen that is not gel or pressurized. Additionally, having a retractable pen will save your pant leg from in-flight graffiti. Having a pen with a clip that can be used to secure it in my shirt collar is helpful as well. That way I always know where it is hanging out.
10 - Sun Shade -
Aircraft get HOT in the sun! To save from jumping into a boiling hot airplane after a trip to the beach a simple sunshade can keep your cabin and headset cool. You want to stay away from that old cardboard or accordion-type shade though and get yourself a stowable foldable type. These are flexible so they can fit almost any aircraft and when done stow away in a small circle under your seat or in the back. Save your glare shield from those horrible cracks by spending the $10 to get some much-needed shade.
Bonus: These little inventions of awesomeness have actually made me a much safer pilot! You never want to fly hungry as it can cause a large distraction. These little micro lunch packs are the bee's knees (pun intended) :) Honestly, they have been a lifesaver when I have been scooting around in remote areas or have forgotten to eat lunch.
Note: When this article was written all items shown were at or below $10. Based on Amazon's algorithm, prices do fluctuate, however you should be able to find similar items across the interwebs. These are my personal picks, so let me know what you think! Am I missing anything from the roster? Do you carry some of these items on-board? As always, stay safe, stay thrifty.