Staying organized in the cockpit is essential for a safe and enjoyable flight. The rat’s nest of cables combined with unsecured gadgets can make your cockpit feel like you’re on the next edition of Hoarders. But before you call American Pickers or spend a fortune on even more products to get you organized, let me give you my top five hacks to keep you organized in the cockpit. And none will break your budget.
At one time, I had one of these on every approach plate to keep them open or mark an airport. Gone are the paper approach plates, but the binder clips remain. These are an inexpensive and convenient way to keep cables organized. I use a couple to help keep my ANR box attached to the side pocket. They are also handy for keeping cables wrapped up while stored. Are you looking for a more permanent method to mount an ANR box? These holsters are perfect for keeping them close at hand.
Velcro® to the Rescue
An iPad-specific kneeboard can cost over $200. This trusty old classic aluminum kneeboard from Sporty’s still works great and cost less than $15. The clip can be used to keep my iPad attached to it. For added security, put a strip of Velcro on the kneeboard, then add the corresponding Velcro to the case of your iPad or iPhone. Need a spot for a stylus? More Velcro!
Cable Organizer Bag
I had a pocket in my flight bag dedicated to chargers and cables. That worked well when I had one charger and one cable. Then came a GPS receiver, an ADS-B receiver, a rechargeable flashlight, battery pack, 12/24V charger, 110V charger, mini, micro, type-c… I need an “Enter at your own risk” warning sign for anyone venturing into that dungeon of chaos. I found an inexpensive cable organizing bag online that put this mess under control. Now when I need juice for anything, I can just reach back and grab this bag. Sporty’s sells one that has room for your small gadgets too.
I always try to fly with a clean windshield, so I normally have a package of Dupont window wipes in my flight bag. These come in a small bag, but much like a tent, never fit back in that bag right. This leaves them loose and I’ve had to chase several across the ramp on a windy day. Grab a gallon size Ziploc bag and to store your window wipes. This bag can double as a fluid receptacle in a pinch.
I can’t recall the last time I used a paper sectional chart for navigation, but I still use them often. A folding paper sectional chart is by far the best sun blocker on the market. When you are parked on the ramp on a hot summer day and can’t leave the windows open, open up a sectional and wedge it on top of your glareshield while holding up the top with your visors. It won’t be perfect, but it’ll make the cockpit a little more comfortable when you get back to your aircraft late in the afternoon.