Pilot's tip of the week

Organizing Your Cockpit


Subscriber question:

"Cockpit organization. Would be interesting to hear from the experts: How do you organize your cockpit...for both IFR and VFR ops?" —Don C.


“Cockpit organization is a very personal thing. Here are some considerations from my experience.

My first consideration is to ensure that everything I need is within reach. If you can’t reach it from the pilot’s seat, it might as well not be on board the airplane at all.

Most airplanes have an abbreviated pilot checklist for normal and emergency procedures. I use the abbreviated checklists on the assumption that a simpler checklist is more likely to be used. There may come a time when I need more in-depth information. Therefore, I keep the Pilot’s Operating Handbook and Supplements in the seat pocket behind the copilot’s seat. It’s out of the way, but I can easily reach back and pull it out if I need it.

This philosophy extends to everything I might need: my iPad, which I use for charts and flight planning, is up front with me, while backup paper charts are in my flight bag, behind the copilot’s seat where I can reach it. I have a notepad, a copy of my flight plan and my written IFR clearance, at least two flashlights, my emergency navcom radio, a spare set of prescription glasses, and spare batteries for everything (including my headset), all in this bag.

I never fly in a shirt that does not have a pocket. I keep a couple of pens or pencils in this pocket, my sunglasses when I’m not wearing them, and a stack of Post-It Notes. I use these sticky notes extensively, to write amendments to my clearance and, more importantly, to cover an instrument if it fails. It’s extremely distracting to have a wobbly or rolled-over gyro instrument in partial panel flight. Post-Its have other uses in flight, but are a cheap and easy way to cover a dead gauge.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea: make sure you have everything, and that everything you have is within reach. If you can’t reach it while belted into the pilot’s seat then you might as well not have it at all.”

Where do you prefer to keep your iPad in the cockpit?

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