Your first lesson during your PPL (or any other route of flying) would require you to only turn up, however as you progress you will find you will need more equipment to log your flights, plan and fly around airspace and much more. Like anything the amount you need may see a little complex at first, however as you progress it will start to make sense. Below is a short guide on what you may expect to need during your PPL.
The item most recommended to buy after your first flight is your log book. By law, as a pilot, every flight you complete must be logged down, including details such as date, time, airports you took off and landed in, plus much more. They come in various shapes and sizes, includingly more commonly these days as mobile Apps for your phone or tablet, but so long as they comply with EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) regulations they will be ideally suited to log your progress as you learn to fly and beyond.
Flying an aeroplane is only half of what you need to get your licence. In addition to the minimum of 45 hours spent in the air, there are also ground exams to cover. Books are available from a number of sources and cover the main syllabus of the PPL, you can often find them second hand too, but be careful as books such as Air Law do change from time to time as new laws are passed and old are removed. Either way, books are a must, as the knowledge inside them is not every day and is hard to find elsewhere.
Another must is a headset. Most flight schools have spares that they lend to students, but headsets are quite personal and eventually you will need your own. Most schools will insist you have your own before you go solo. Headset choice is huge, so there is a guide on it’s own which you can find here.\
Aircraft can be complicated things to get going, even the basic ones. Sadly the idea of jumping in and turning the key doesn’t work in an aircraft so, to save memorising everything, we use checklists. Simple flip style checklists are ideal to use and make sure you’re safe to fly.
Fuel Tester and Fuel Dip
Fuel quality is important in flying, it’s not possible to pull over in a lay by when your engine stops in flight! Before each flight you’ll check to see if there are any contaminants or water in your fuel using a fuel tester. A simple drain from the tanks, a view in the tester and if it’s clear, you’re good to go. Many people also use fuel dips, to manually check the fuel quantity in the wings. These can be plastic tubes with a scale up the side, or something as simple as a piece of wood with some notches in the side. Some aircraft, such as the PA-28, cannot use these fuel dips, so make sure you need one before buying.
The airspace above us is not a free for all, especially in the south of England where there are multiple international airports in close proximity to each other. A complex three dimensional area of sky is translated to charts, both in 1:250,000 and 1:500,000 scales for pilots to use when navigating. These charts may look confusing at first, but through your lessons you’ll learn to read them and find out just how useful they are. Normally, for PPL navigation, the 1:500,000 is recommended.
A computer in the old sense of the words. Not a digital device, or a smart phone or tablet, a flight computer is effectively a slide rule. Fairly complex to learn, but once you have they are very powerful to use for every day calculations. If you’re just looking to complete your PPL, the smaller “CRP-1” will work, but if you want to go commercial eventually, the “CRP-5” is worth getting. More expensive, but less cost in the long run as you’ll need to buy it anyway.
Small things to plan your flight are also important, such as pens and rulers. Fine permanent markers such as CD pens come highly recommended as they don’t smudge, come in various colours and the point is fine enough to not cover half of your route. They can be easily removed using nail polish remover once you’ve landed. In addition you’ll need a ruler, but a ruler that measures not in millimetres or inches, but in nautical miles, scaled to your chart. This is so you can measure navigation legs without having to convert mm to scaled miles, not an easy task. A protractor will be needed too, you can use small ones from the local stationary shop, but dedicated aviation protractors are larger, clearer to read and more suitable for the job.
Once you’ve got all this kit, it’s quite hard to keep it organised in flight. The logical solution is of course a knee board. These come in various shapes and sizes, so it’s best to see what people use in the aircraft you’re planning to learn in and try them out to see if they suit, as what works for one person and plane may not work for you.
Keeping all of this organised can be a tough job on the ground too, which is why it’s best to get a flight bag. These can be anything from a backpack to a fancy leather case like the classic flight bags you used to see airline pilots using. Anything will work, just so long as it’s convenient for you.
“All in one” deals
Of course many shops will offer an all in one type deal with all of the above included for a good price. If you’ve got the money these are a great way of getting your flying kit, though it may not be exactly what you want. Most of these deals do not include a headset as they’re both very personal and the budget can vary so greatly.