Things you Need

Essentials, and more…

Getting Started
Private Pilot

Charath Ranganathan


November 3, 2023

Here is a list of items that I recommend for students working on their private pilot’s license.

Pilot Log Book

This is where you will maintain details of your flights, endorsements that you earn during the course of your study, and ongoing endorsements after you get your private pilot. There are a number of log books available on the market.

I recommend the Gleim Pilot Log Book.

It contains columns for most entries that you will need well past your private pilot’s license as well as the newer endorsements for TSA, etc. At under $10, it’s a good buy and will serve as a reminder of the wonderful memories that you create in your aviation career.


If you are thinking about using an electronic flight bag, you could use the logbook functionality in the EFB.


I have one headset that students can borrow for the first one or two lessons, but I strongly suggest that you invest in a good headset for your training and beyond. Headsets run the gamut of rates from the really inexpensive (under $100) “student” headsets to mid-range headsets (around $400) to the top-of-the-line active noise canceling headsets ($800 - $1,300).

My personal favorite is the Bose A30, but at $1,299, it is the most expensive headset out there.

Another good option for an active noise canceling headset is the Lightspeed Zulu 3.

If you’re looking for something a little more “mid-range”, you could purchase a passive noise canceling headset such as the David Clark H10-13S, which retails for a more wallet-friendly $360.

I have found that among pilots, headsets are like religions – you’ll find the “Bose camp” and the “Lightspeed camp”. So, pick one that works for you and use it for your training.


When ordering a headset, make sure you order one with dual GA plugs or fixed-wing, 2 plug, battery powered. Check with your instructor if you have any questions.


All pilots need a way to quickly jot down weather information, taxi instructions, and other notes, in addition to storing charts and other papers. A good kneeboard is a worthwhile investment – one that will last you a long time in your aviation career

Flight Bag

You will need a way to carry all your charts, headset, and other supplies to the airport and to store them safely while in flight. A good flight bag is a must. Flight bags can be as basic as a backpack that you already own or as fancy as commercially sold flight bags. While this is ultimately a matter of choice, find something that’s small enough to fit on the seat behind you, and has enough pockets so that you can easily access items while in flight.


Before your fourth or fifth lesson, you should plan on picking up a current Los Angeles Terminal Area Chart. These charts are updated twice a year. As you progress in your training, you will need a Los Angeles Sectional Chart as well.

Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs)

More recently, I have asked students to purchase an electronic flight bag (EFB) such as Foreflight. If you purchase Foreflight, you will need an iPad. Note that Foreflight does not work on Android tablets.


Regardless of whether you use an EFB or not, you will be required to purchase the above paper charts for your training.

EFBs have become the de facto standard in the industry. Since you will be using EFBs for your flying “in real life”, i.e. after your private pilot certificate, I prefer to introduce them early on in flight training so that the student is better prepared to use them after the completion of their training.

Chart Supplement: In addition to the Terminal Area Chart and Sectional mentioned above, you will need to purchase a “Chart Supplement” publication. This publication (previously called the “Airports and Facility Directory or A/FD) that gives you the details of all the airports in a region as well as the navigation aids and other information. While you can purchase them, you could also refer to a site such as AirNav or print out PDFs of the relevant pages from the chart supplement using a service such as ChartBundle.


If you are using Foreflight, all charts and chart supplements can be directly downloaded to your iPad in Foreflight and will be updated when they are updated by the FAA.

E6B Flight Computer and Navigation Plotter

When you get closer to planning longer flights (called “cross-country” flights), you will require an E6B flight computer and a navigation plotter.

The E6B is a super cool circular slide rule that every pilot possesses. I include an interactive web-based E6B for practice (not for navigation) here and here.

Flashlight and Headlamp

As your training progresses, and you start to fly at night, you will need at least one good flashlight and a headlamp. In both cases, you will need one that has a red light in addition to the white since the eyes are less sensitive to red light at night.

Part of the fun of embarking upon a new hobby (adventure?) is in learning the tools of the trade and pampering yourself with some “retail therapy”. Your friends and family will no longer need to worry about what to get you for your birthday or Christmas! 🙂

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