My very first flight bag – about 35 years ago – was a heavy, black rectangular box-like thing made of stiff board with (not very good) imitation leather covering, an opening top with flaps that folded over the single carrying handle, combination locks and a very basic single partition inside.
Occasionally I still see airline pilots with these types of bags but modern designs and materials technology have improved the quality and usability of flight bags out of all recognition compared with that old clunky box.
For the last few years I have been using a Brightline Bag, which is a modular system supposedly designed by pilots, for pilots. In many ways it’s great, in that it does contain most of my flying bits and pieces, except for a headset. However, in other respects, there are just too many zips and pockets. Every pocket has at least a couple – sometimes even three – different openings, each with its own pouch inside and although the zip tags are colour coded, it usually takes at least a couple of tries before I find what I’m looking for. You can only use one of the pocket-pouches at a time, so it would have been better to have just one opening per pocket and a lot less zips…
As the system is modular, you can add extra compartments by zipping them onto the ‘master’ bag – so, for example, you can add a 5″ deep compartment which could be used for an overnight change of shirt, undies and wash kit with toothbrush etc. In practice, this compartment is never quite big enough, you have to re-position the carry-handle to keep the whole bag in balance, and it is beginning to get a bit too bulky to fit comfortably in a small aeroplane. And having to carry a separate headset case can be irritating.
Now, just in time for for the holiday season – enter the Adventure Flight Bag Collection from Lightspeed – well-known manufacturers of pilot headsets. I have yet to see and handle one of these bags but from the reviews and comments I’ve seen, they look like a clear step forward, particularly for light sport and ultralight fliers. Each of the bags in the range is named after a famous aviation author. My personal favourite would be the Antoine, after Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who wrote ‘Le Petit Prince’ (The Little Prince) which is the most widely read and translated book in the French language.
The bag is big enough to take a headset (Lightspeed of course!) and has a pocket at each end for a hand-held radio and a water bottle. There are pockets for a (now inevitable) iPad and much of the other paraphernalia we pilots love. My only complaint is that the very useful ‘organiser’ insert is an optional extra at $25; it should be included in the bag price of $179. Overall size of the bag is 30 cms wide by 25 cms tall by 14 cms deep, making it nice and compact for us light sport and recreational pilots.