Apart from a few aviation blogs and forums, there isn’t much information on this topic. But I’ve been in this position myself — and I’m able to advise you on what flight equipment is required, and what’s optional.
Hopefully this post will save you some money.
Required Flight Equipment for the PPL(A)
Here’s a list of the flight equipment you need for your PPL(A). You can’t avoid buying these:
- 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)
- Log Book
I’ll guide you through each item of required flight equipment one by one.
1. CAA Topographical 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 flight — 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 highly recommend buying one from a flight equipment website.
£15.95 (average price) FROM FLIGHTSTORE
Note: charts expire every year. You need to have the latest version.
A watch is needed for Navigations.
It doesn’t have to be an expensive pilot-branded one; just a normal one will do. If you own one already, then that’s great.
3. Pack of Pens
You’ll have to update your Pilot Log Book after each flight, and make general notes. Any pen will suffice for this.
However, for your topographical charts I recommend buying a set of Staedtler Chart Permanent Pens. The ink doesn’t rub off easily, but it can also be removed with a special eraser afterwards. Four different colours is sufficient.
Tip: if you order £20+ of items from Amazon, then delivery is free. Why not combine your pens with one of our FlyGA products?
4. Navigational Plog
Plog is short for “Pilot Log“. You’ll need one throughout the PPL.
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. You should expect to pay around £3.50 for one pad (before postage & packaging costs). But we’re offering our higj quality FlyGA A5 Plog as a 3 pack for just £9.97.
5. CRP-5 Flight Computer
You’ll eventually need a Flight Computer or “Whizz Wheel” during your aviation course. This is commonly used for PPL and ATPL examinations.
The CRP-5 Flight Computer calculates your heading, and estimates the time it takes to fly each leg of your planned journey. Both of these things very much depend on the wind. The ‘triangle of velocities’ gives you a ground speed and wind correction angle, given the wind speed, direction, your intended heading and air speed.
This all sounds very confusing at first — but a flight computer is in fact a fairly simple and easy-to-use 1950’s technology. All the jargon is fully explained on your course.
You’re best off purchasing your CRP Flight Computer early on so that you can get to grips with using it (try YouTubing some tutorials in the meantime). Unfortunately they aren’t cheap.
£76.99 from Pooley’s
6. Nautical Mile (NM) Scale Map Ruler
You don’t usually fly in a straight line for more then 60 nautical miles during your PPL(A). Most of the time you’ll fly triangle routes, where each leg is around 50nm. So extremely lengthy rulers are therefore unnecessary.
The FlyGA Nautical Mile Scale Ruler is cheaper than comparable NM rulers offered from popular online flight stores. It boasts a convenient size of 255mm x 38mm, reading 0-60nm in 1:500,000 (for planes) and 0-30nm in 1:250,000 (for helicopters). In addition, the ruler also includes Statute Miles and Kilometer (KM) scales.
If you bundle the FlyGA NM Ruler with other products from Amazon, you’ll quality for free delivery.
This isn’t the same protractor you’llf ind in a school maths set! There are specific protractors required for aviation.
An aviation Protractor quickly measures short journey legs, and prevents pilots from unnecessarily using additional rulers. It’s a simple product that helps to make flight planning more accurate. The very same Protractor is used in marine navigation.
8. Log Book
A Pilot Log Book is required for recording flying hours and many other key details — such as flight times, landings, instrument approaches made, and simulator practices.
We produce our very own 120-page hardback FlyGA Log Book. What differentiates our faux leather hardback product is it’s large design — offering extra visibility and more space for Pilots to write. We’re proud to say that the quality of our Log Book surpasses any competing product within its price bracket.
The FlyGA Log Book conforms to air navigation order requirements set out by the CAA and EASA, meaning it’s suitable for students undertaking the LAPL/PPL as well as experienced Pilots.
Optional Flight Equipment for the PPL(A)
Now for the optional flight equipment.
You may well decide to buy some or all of the following in due course:
- Knee Board
- High Viz Jacket/Vest
- Books & Guides
- Diversion Ruler
- Compass Rose Stickers
I’ll guide you through each item of optional flight equipment one by one.
A Pilot Kneeboard is basically a specialist clipboard for making notes and holding paperwork while you’re in the air. An A5 sized knee board is most practical.
A Kneeboard is arguably optional for the PPL because there isn’t a great deal of writing required. 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.
Regardless, a Kneeboard is still a great addition to your flight bag, and it isn’t going to break the bank. You can buy a cheap, good quality Kneeboard — like the AFE VB1 — for under £20.
£18.95 from Flightstore
You can usually borrow an aviation headset from your flight school. However, I personally opted to buy my own. With your own headset you benefit from from additional comfort, higher quality sound, and improved noise cancellation.
Check out our Review of the Best Aviation Headsets.
Headsets are built to last a long time. So if you have every intention of pursuing a flying career, you should invest in your own set.
Aviation’s top headset is the Bose A20. They’re the very best on the market and they’ll set you back approximately £1,000. Thankfully you don’t need to invest in those for your PPL (unless you really want them). If you budget around the £300 mark, you’ll pick an an excellent, reliable headset that’ll last years.
We recommend the David Calrk H10-13.4 — the most commonly used aviation headset at flight schools. It’s recognised among aviators as the “industry standard”, and the benchmark by which many other pilot headsets are compared.
David Clark is a solid, reliable headset brand. The H10-13.4 headset, which comes with a 5 year guarantee, is their best value option.
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 a High Viz jacket. 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 High Via jackets are not that 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(A) 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 from tie to time. You’re best off waiting it out and buying the specific books as and when you’re studying each subject.
The well-known flight stores sell guides on each of the 9 PPL Subjects. However, we recommend buying them from Amazon. Pick any of the 9 subjects below to find our recommended book:
- Flight Performance & Planning
- Human Performance & Limitations
- Air Law
- Operational Procedures
- Aircraft General Knowledge
- Principles of Flight
Note that “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 one. Schools/airfields tend to supply them to students free of charge (or included in their fee).
6. Flight Diversion Ruler
We manufacture a unique Flight Diversion Ruler to help student pilots undertake their PPL Navigation segment. Whilst it’s not a mandatory item of equipment, it certainly makes Diversions a lot simpler.
The Flight Diversion Ruler doubles up as a Nautical Mile Ruler, scaled at both 1:500,000 and 1:250,000. Plane and helicopter pilots all over Europe have opted to buy this product ahead of more expensive alternatives from other aviation manufacturers.
To learn how our product works, check out our tutorial: How To Use The FlyGA Diversion Ruler/Plotter
7. Compass Rose Stickers
Navigational aids — such as adhesive Compass Rose Stickers — are simple and useful. They’re relatively inexpensive (especially compared with GPS packages!).
It’s not vital that you buy VFR stickers, and they aren’t going to navigate you to your chosen destination. But they are very handy when approaching an unfamiliar aerodrome. Plus many pilots don’t feel like they’re ‘cheating’ too much by using them.
The FlyGA Compass Rose Stickers compliment the Flight Diversion Ruler. Hence why we sometimes run promotions offering the two products together. Our stickers are smaller (42mm diameter) and easier to use on topographical maps than competing products. They’re also significantly cheaper.
You can learn more about VFR Aids here: VFR Flying Aids — Are They Worth Using?
Final Notes On Flight Equipment…
There are so many items of flight equipment that you could buy to make flying easier. Just 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 in this article, and upgrade to other items whenever you’re ready.
You can also cut your equipment costs down slightly by investing in our “Navigation Set”, designed for PPL students. This unique pack includes several required items — such as the Nautical Mile Ruler, Protractor, and 1x VFR Plog. You’ll also benefit from our innovative Flight Diversion Ruler, 16x Compass Rose Stickers — and free delivery as a bonus.
The Navigation Set works out 25% cheaper than buying comparable items from popular flight schools. See our review on PPL(A) Starter Packs to learn more.