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Flight Instructor Supplies Every CFI Should Have





As a job, flight instruction straddles a fuzzy zone between professional pilot and professor.

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You can find a lot of flight instructor supplies lying around your flight school or FBO. Some flight schools have built up a collection of old instruments, classroom aides, and various props that instructors can grab when they need them.

Other times, you’ll be working on your own in an empty hanger. In those cases, you’ll need to think ahead and figure out what you need when.

An Organization and Note System

If there’s one constant in-flight instruction, it’s the need to take copious notes. You’ll take notes in the plane, on the ground, before and after the flight, and during ground lessons.

The key to your success will depend on how organized you can keep those notes. Of all of the instructor tools you can have, a clean and tidy note system is the one that will pay for itself first.

You can even make PDF templates to make all of your notes match the same format or your school’s lesson plans.

Also, give some consideration to the power of your tablet and how it can help organize the rest of your flying life. Look for apps that educators use in the classroom.

One of the handiest accessories you can have for your tablet is a high-quality stylus. Even though many tablets don’t come with them, they are available as an accessory.

Some people don’t like taking notes or record-keeping on a tablet, which is fine too. But it’s still just as essential to have a dedicated note-taking and organization system.

Looking to upgrade your headset? Check out our review of the best pilot headsets available today.

Demonstration Props

As a CFI teaching students, you’re going to spend your time trying to convey some pretty abstract and complicated subjects. In the process, it helps to have something physical to point at and talk about.

For every lesson plan that you can think of, try to find something you could have on hand to relate it to.

Gyroscopes are a great example. It’s one thing to read about rigidity in space and gyroscopic precession in the book, but it’s an entirely different thing to feel it in your hands or see it before your eyes. How can you make that happen?

Any airplane parts you can get your hands on, be it from real planes or model ones, are helpful.

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Paper Charts

On that same note, it’s handy to have a collection of old charts around. On the one hand, many students are no longer buying physical charts and relying solely on their tablets.

Their instructor’s paper charts might be the only time they get to hold paper examples, which is a shame.

You can learn a lot about a chart just by studying the publication in its entirety. When was the last time you looked at a chart and perused the legend?

Class D airspace

The new digital equivalents are outstanding, but for beginners, they sometimes don’t make a lot of sense and can seem ad hoc in their structure.

Primary instructors should keep a drawer full of old sectionals, especially ones from other parts of the country with features their students don’t see in the local area.

Flatland students will especially enjoy looking at sectionals from mountainous areas. Don’t forget to have a TAC and a WAC for reference, too.

Instrument instructors will need even more options. Like the VFR sectionals and chart supplements, instrument charts are best learned initially from the paper examples. Students learn on either Jeppsen or government charts, and as the CFII, you should have a set of both to teach the differences between the two systems.

Are you an instrument instructor? Take a look at these IFR acronyms every instrument student should know.

Classroom Supplies

If space is shared, you should assume that what you need to teach will not be there when you need it. Bring your own supplies. The biggest thing missing nearly every flight lesson–functional dry erase markers.

If you teach from a tablet, you might want to make sure you have access to a compatible projector in your classroom.

Notice Title

Need to add a few more supplies to your bag? Consider asking for them as a gift. Here are a few more gift ideas in our article on the best gift ideas for pilots.

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Instrument Training Tools

Never count on your students to have their own supplies, either.

It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them; the time will eventually come when even the best-prepared student has forgotten something.

It’s also up to the instructor to have some form of instrument covers. There are simple suction-cupped rubber covers for steam gauges or cling-film covers for electronic displays.

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Airplane Supplies

There’s an entire list of things that you may find handy to have when operating an aircraft as a flight instructor.

You’re teaching your student how to be a self-sufficient pilot, but at the same time, you’re operating as the school’s representative and as the veteran pilot onboard.

Some schools may keep their planes stocked with these items, but other places may put the responsibility onto the pilots.

Here are just a few items that you might want to keep in your flight bag or at least in your office.

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Instructor Go-Kit

Finally, think about the personal things you’d like to have handy after a long day on the job.

Think through some what-if scenarios. What if, at the apex of a long cross country, the plane breaks down at a distant airport?

It’s not out of the realm of possibility, and it might be a day or two until a mechanic can get to it. Should you pack a full overnight bag when you go on long trips?

That might be overkill, but if you’ve got a track record for this sort of diversion, no one will fault you for it.

And all flight instructors will benefit from a pack of gum or breath mints, even if you only have them to subtly offer your students.

What are your top recommended flight instructor supplies?

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