Seven Must-Have Items for any Glider Pilot
Updated: May 14
Every pilot has a flight bag of essential gear. Some keep things light, others like to pack more than they need - as long as it doesn't put the aircraft outside of the envelope, it goes! We at Stick and Glider prefer to keep things minimalistic, yet, classy. We have come up with the short list of things that every glider pilot should have with them when they fly. Of course aviator sunglasses and a decent watch made the list. Can you guess the other five things? Read on to find out!
Aviator Sunglasses are Required Gear for any Serious Pilot
No pilot should be without a good pair of sunglasses, it simply goes with the territory of being out in the sun; oftentimes, high above the clouds or away from the smog of the city for hours at a time. Aviator sunglasses come in all different frame colors and brands. Something to be very aware of is the absolute necessity to purchase UNPOLARIZED glasses – the reason being, polarized lenses interfere or “cancel out” the electronics on a cockpit instrument panel – thus causing a potentially unsafe condition where the pilot would be unable to see the data on the screens.
Stick and Glider has always loved the classic Ray-Ban aviators. In fact, one member of the team has been flying with the same pair for over ten years now.
Another quality brand is Randolph. You can check those out here.
A Hat Helps Mitigate Fatigue and Heat Exposure
Spend any time at a gliderport and you will quickly notice the go-to hat used by glider pilots is a sort of 360-degree beach hat that protects much of the neck and face.
The reason for this particular hat is the fact that most gliders have a canopy that allows for great visibility but also allows for a great deal of sunlight to beat down on the pilot for the duration of the flight. A hat helps to cut down on direct sun exposure and minimize glare in the cockpit.
A Camelbak is the Best Way to Stay Hydrated When Soaring
I overheard an awkward conversation at the gliderport the other day. A glider owner was discussing the annual inspection outcome with the local mechanic. As the mechanic went down the list of items addressed, he leaned in quietly and said, “We also cleaned the urine behind the seat.” The owner paused for a moment, embarrassed, and then laughed out loud. He exclaimed, “Oh, that wasn’t urine, I swear. It was Gatorade from one of my high-altitude flights. The pressure changes caused a small leak in the cap because I had overfilled it.
If filled correctly and stowed in the right position, the Camelbak can be a pilot’s best friend – allowing for small, hands-free sips of your favorite hydrating liquid throughout the flight without having to fiddle with other gear or divert your attention from more important things in and out of the cockpit.
Every Glider Pilot Needs a Sturdy Watch
You don’t need to own a Tag Heuer, Omega, or Breitling to be pilot. You just need a sturdy and reliable wristwatch to help mark time and distance and wind speeds in case your primary instruments fail and you need to go back to basics.
Stick and Glider likes the designs that Invicta puts out. They have a wide-range of designs at a respectable price point. Plus, they aren’t so bad to look at.
Another time-tested favorite is the Seiko Pilot Watch with E6-B on the bezel.
A Good Logbook Does More Than Just Keep Track of Your Flight Time, it’s a Journal
A pilot logbook should literally last a lifetime. It is something to be passed down as a piece of family history to your progeny. Glider pilot logbooks are designed with slight differences compared to "regular" logbooks – such as tow altitude, method of launch, and any badges earned. Stick and Glider found that the logbook offered by Knauff and Grove Soaring Supplies is a great product with all the required boxes and columns that you may need.
You can check it out here.
Using a GoPro to Record Your Flights is a Great Way to Debrief and Improve
When we started flying many years ago, YouTube wasn’t a thing and small, high-definition cameras certainly weren’t something one could purchase for a few hundred dollars. Now, it seems everyone is capturing their flights in HD with sometimes several GoPros from different angles – external and internal.
We have found that even if you choose not to publish your flight videos on social media, there is great value in being able to go back and critique yourself – the takeoff, the landings, your radio communication. Having a GoPro makes sense from the perspective of continuously improving to become a better pilot.
Every Pilot has a Favorite Flying Shirt
Stick and Glider has come up with a few unique designs for shirts that we love, of course. You can check those out here. The main idea is to pick the right shirt and pants or shorts based on the day’s conditions and expected temperatures at planned flight altitudes.
If you’re a fan of aerotows check out the Tow to Tango shirt.
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