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Cockpit Organization Tips

uwochris

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Anyone have any neat tricks you use? I did my solo XC the other day, and I felt so disorganized... it really took away from my concentration. I would like to adapt some good techniques for my flying.

I think I will trying a clipboard (large one) and use various clips on each side, all having different information. I don't know if this will work, or if there are better ways.

I have about 50tt, so I am not experienced at all yet. I have my flight test coming up soon, so I will be a PPL shortly!

Thanks, and go Red Wings go!!!
 

bigD

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The best advice I can give is to keep it simple. Shortly after I got my private, I fell prey to the desire to buy every gadget and thingamajiggy that exists in the Sporty's catalog. I'd go on a cross country and have what seemed like 50 pounds of gear strewn across my lap. Heck, I had a timer clipped to the top of one kneeboard, and I wasn't even instrument rated yet! (yeah yeah - add this one to the dorky pilot thread, but I've changed my ways!)

Nowadays, I have one kneeboard that I use as a hard surface to write clearances and whatever else on. The sectional or enroute chart just floats on my lap. If I'm solo, I'll keep my flight bag in the right seat, where I keep my AFD, computer, or anything else I need quick access to. Relevant Approach plates are clipped to the yoke.

That's about all I do. Usually stays pretty clean for me.
 

soleary

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I heartily agree. I have a kneeboard (no tri fold fancy stuff). On the kneeboard a keep a small pad of paper. You can get kneeboards with a place for your pen as well. My checklist stays under the seatbelt in the other seat, that way I can grab it without looking. I keep my chart folded as small as I can and make sure the route is marked nice and bold so it's easy to locate quickly. I also put marks on the courseline to remind me of calls coming up. If I'm flying IFR and using approach plates they go on my left leg, held by a velcro strap with a clear section that goes over the approach plates. Everything else goes in my flight bag either between the seats or just behind the other front seat. Don't put it behind your own, you'll never be able to locate anything in it there. That's it. The best way to stay organized and collected is to think one action ahead. Good luck!
 

bobbysamd

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Kneeboards - NOT!

Cast my vote with the above. Don't waste your money on every Sporty's pilot doodad and accessory. Stick with minimalism.

I remember how my instructor told me just to open the sectional and spread it out on my lap. Then, I tried all these knee and lap desks. Not only did I feel uneasy with these things sitting on my lap, they were all junk! My instructor was right all along (as instructors are, most of the time :) ).

Try taking fewer things. Try using rubber bands to organize your stuff and keeping it in place.

Go Avalanche! :)
 
Last edited:

avbug

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I've found that the most effective way to limit the cockpit clutter is to stop by a fast food joint on the way to the airport, and purchase a happy meal. After consuming the contents of the bag in which it comes, stuff the bag with whatever you can fit. What can't fit in the bag gets left behind. This simple step reduces the amount of garbage you can carry to a minimum.

As far as organization in the actual cockpit, I have but one word:

Velcro.

If you have no velcro, I have but two words:

Duct Tape.

If you have no duct tape, I have but three words:

Go buy some.

If you cannot afford duct tape, you shouldn't be flying, and probably can't afford to. However, I have four words:

Borrow some duct tape.

If you can't do this, you aren't resourceful enough to fly, and needn't be in the cockpit when things really break down. However, knowing this doesn't solve your clutter problem. Finally, to alleviate this terrible dillmea, I have five simple words:

Open door, toss stuff out.

Good luck to you.
 

ShawnC

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Jan 17, 2002
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I bring three things during a X-C charts, kneeboard, and a rubber duckey. Thats about all you need.

Like everyone else says K.I.S.S.
 

flint4xx

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Thorough PREPARATION should eliminate any clutter. A clip board with map and carefully thought out plan and notes for frequencies etc. is all you need.
 

SentryIP

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Dec 9, 2001
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Cockpit Organization

uwochris,

Good advice from the posts above. My approach is to plan the flight thoroughly and keep a minimum amount of stuff in the cockpit. Carry a chart with the route of flight and action items drawn on it, pencil, paper, flashlight, and utilize the airplane's clock or wear a wristwatch. Finally, I carry a whizwheel in my pocket. The flight doesn't always goes as planned, but thorough planning helps you to be adaptable and flexible while flying. Take care and fly safe.
 

Huck

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Staples has a thin aluminum clipboard that opens up to a little chamber about 1/2 inch thick. You can store charts, cross-country logs, etc... in there. Write checklists, limitations, freqs at home base, et al on index stickers and stick them to the clipboard.

When flying IFR in g/a aircraft I use my gorilla clip (they still make those?). In it are my NOS chart book (bound, or course), my Airport Facility Directory (best $2.50 you can spend) and enroute charts.
 

tarp

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Jan 24, 2002
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Organization top to bottom and very KISS:

1. Headsets on my head
2. Sunglasses on my head, in my shirt pocket or (if polo shirt) dangling from "v" in shirt.
3. Pen in my shirt pocket or clipped in the "v" in my polo shirt. I haven't used a pencil since the second grade.
4. Timex's cheapest watch (with second hand) on my wrist.
5. Small lap pad strapped to my inboard leg (right or left seat). I will only use the lap desk for holding the flight plan and/or a Jepp plate for IFR. This is the small lap board that is basically 5.5 inches by 8 inches (or a half sheet of 8.5 x 11).
6. Penlight (two AA batteries) flashlight trapped under my left thigh (if night flying).
7. And this is the tough one to explain without pictures, but a sectional chart folded to what I call "two squares" and trapped between the inboard edge of the seat and whatever is in the middle (i.e in C152, wedged between seats, in a Piper warrior trapped between seat and the flap handle console).

To get the sectional to "two square". Take a brand new sectional and open it top to bottom (i.e. where the words North/South are printed, open it up once). Now, thumbing through the chart like you are looking for a known article in a magazine, find the area that you are going to be flying and open it like the spine on a book. You are now looking at "four" squares (i.e. there are two major fold lines and your chart opened like it is shows a NW, NE, SW and SE corner. Now, fold the map over so that you are looking at just "two squares" at a time. In the above it will show you just the NW and NE or the SW and SE by "flipping the chart". This two square size is perfect to squeeze between the seats and is easy to manage when you pull the sectional up to look at your check points. If you get real creative at your folding, you can make the chart "flippable" in either a North South direction or an East-West direction. Now you aren't fumbling with gigantic map syndrome. PS on my first solo, there were many times when I went IMC because of the gigantic chart blocking everything from view in a C-152.

That's it. There is nothing else you need that you can't pile on the seat next to you or in your flight bag just behind the opposing seat.

Now I have seen students come with every imaginable gadget there is. One guy brought a sort of tool caddy that had everything from calculators to needle nose pliers. Another guy found a medical supplier and got a pen that has a light on the end that hangs around your neck on a lanyard - it worked well for ten minutes until the plastic clip broke and his light/pen ended up in the cargo area of the 172. He borrowed my parker clip pen to finish that XC. One guy brought a "police special" maglight for a night flight - it took about half an hour for me to get my night vision back. Another guy showed up in a flight suit with all the pockets full of stuff - I'm sorry, if you were in the military or you are CAP, I'll let the flight suit go, but otherwise I'm embarrasing you out of this level of geekiness. The best one was the guy who brought his samsonite attache case and he opened it with all the pockets full and it had those foam separators and it made a little desk. I asked where exactly I was going to sit in this plan and he realized a little late that he couldn't "set up shop" on the seat next to him.

Have fun.
 

Huck

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Oh I forgot - 1. Rayban sunglass case on my belt. Make fun all you want, but when you bend over to drain tanks your glasses will fall out of your shirt pocket. A black Rayban case blends in with uniform pants. 2. AA cell maglight on my belt in a black holster. Always, even when flying heavies. Imagine being in the john and the lights go out!
 

seattle

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Nov 29, 2001
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When I file IFR it gets cluttered. I'm a fairly messy person anyways. If not IFR I just duck-out from under class "B" and fly to where I want to go, with usually only a VFR chart tucked under my leg. Somehow I think it's different when you're a student.


Seattle

PS: Avbug, that was pretty funny.
 
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