Tuesday, March 08, 2016

What's In Your Flight Bag? Part One | Flight Bags

by SM Rommel Anacan, Public Affairs Officer 

I have to admit it, one of the serendipities of being a member of Civil Air Patrol is that I get to buy “gear” (almost) guilt free. After all it’s going to a good cause (the missions of CAP) and may even be tax deductible! How can you lose? 

I entered CAP as a non-pilot, but I knew I wanted to be a member of an aircrew, so I immediately went to work on qualifying as a Mission Scanner. A mission scanner’s job is to conduct visual search from the aircraft during a search and rescue mission. (CAP also has other non-pilot aircrew positions as well, but the first one all aircrew members must qualify for is Mission Scanner.)

As a non-pilot I had NO idea what type of gear I needed to procure to become a mission scanner-so I did lots of research, checked with the members of the squadron and observed what other CAP members had when on training exercises. 

Over the next few weeks we’ll talk about the gear that aircrew members, pilots and non-pilots, use, what they recommend and things to think about when procuring your flight equipment. This week I thought it a good idea to start with FLIGHT BAGS! After all, you have to put your stuff into something, right?

Squadron 150 member 2d Lt. Kerem Yogurtcugil said, "My preference (is a) slightly bigger one (flight bag) with headset pockets on either sides so I can carry an extra headset just in case and I can pack a light jacket or a sweater with me so I do not have to make an extra carry on bag."

I queried people on CAPTalk, an online forum for CAP members on this issue, and here is what some of them shared:

"As a (mission) scanner, I have a regular school backpack.... In the front compartment I have my headset, pens/markers, air sickness bags and anti nausea tabs (just in case), small flashlight. In the main compartment I have a binder with sectionals, plotter, my knee board with a pad of paper, checklists and reference material, and a small tablet with Avare, portable battery and cable. In the side pouch is a water bottle, and the other side pouch has a couple protein bars." 

"I just use a USAF helmet bag" 

"... my wife was looking at range bags and showed me a Bulldog Brand Range Bag.  Just the right size, internal Velcro dividers, a good number of inside and outside pockets, and made from heavy duty ballistic nylon with real brass zippers, and the best part was the cost $35.00. It's large enough to carry two headsets, flashlights, camera, extra glasses, handheld transceiver, IPad, and several folders..." 

"...when I got my private, I received a really nice sports flightgear bag which is awesome but too big for simple trips. I then got a used helmet bag from my local surplus. I love it. Yes it's big but it's so flexible that it fits nicely behind my pilot seat. I also don't care as much about if it gets oil, gas or grease on it. I also have affixed a few patches to it that while not exactly official, I think it looks sharp! It starts a lot of conversations.”

As for me (Rommel, here,) I'm not a pilot and I used a backpack on my first SAREX (Search and Rescue Exercise) and didn't like it for my gear. So I just picked up a used Cencal Sierra flight bag on eBay for a really great price. I've found that it's just big enough, with enough pockets and compartments to hold the things I want to (headset, memo pad, charts, jacket, snacks and water) but not so big that it takes up too much storage space in the aircraft. 

In future posts we'll talk about the other types of flight gear we use on our missions.