• Gadgets and technology are key, but paper maps & charts win out.
  • Other must-haves include a torch, bible, tiger balm and bike pump.
  • "Travel light" and "get organised" are pilots' top travel tips.
  • 13% of pilots say jet lag doesn't exist.

Despite technology dominating today's cockpits, pilots still consider paper maps and charts as the most important item in their flight bags, according to a survey 1 conducted by online private jet booking network

Pilots from across the world were invited to take part in the study with participants from all aviation sectors, including airlines, the military, private aviation and leisure flyers. The research asked the pilots to name the top three most important items always packed in their flight bags (other than phone, passport, wallet or keys).

Technology clearly plays a significant role in pilots' lives, with almost a quarter putting a gadget of some kind on their packing list. 13 per cent take a laptop, iPad or other tablet; a further 5 per cent a GPS or other navigational device; and a further 5 per cent other gadgets such as iPods or e-readers (though paper-based books or magazines were more popular). However the most popular named response was maps and charts, with 16 per cent naming either one or both of these in their top three must-haves.

A spare headset was another popular answer with 7 per cent of pilots always packing one. And universal travel items named by many were a torch or flashlight; toiletries; snacks and drinks; spare clothing; sunglasses; sports equipment. More unusual must-haves were a bible, cigarettes, tiger balm, nail polish remover pads and a bike pump.

The pilots were also asked to pass on their top travel tip and specifically, how they avoid jet lag. Almost a quarter (22 per cent) gave a tip relating to the importance of planning and preparation, with advice including: "Failure to prepare means you need to be prepared to fail"; and "leave plenty of time to get to the airport".

Packing lightly also featured heavily with 15 per cent giving their top tip relating to taking as little luggage as possible or avoiding checking in bags.

On a less practical note, 8 per cent advised on the importance of having fun and enjoying the experience of travel including: "Travel is interesting. Do as much of it as you can. Experience different cultures". More unusual advice included "take toilet paper" and others were very specific, such as "to dry a swimming costume to pack, lay it in a dry towel, roll up the towel and twist it - gets most of the water out".

When it comes to jet lag, the most popular advice was to simply get more sleep, with 23 per cent recommending sleeping as much as possible before and after the flight and/or taking regular naps. Other opinions on jet lag were divided with 16 per cent advising adjusting to the new time zone immediately, whereas a further 6 per cent recommend staying in the original time throughout a trip.

Similarly the approach to alcohol and jet lag was mixed, with some suggesting avoiding it altogether, but others recommending a tipple to help sleep patterns adjust (when travelling off duty of course). Some 13 per cent of pilots claimed never to suffer from jet lag at all with one commenting: "Jet lag doesn't exist. It's called being tired".

Adam Twidell, CEO of and an experienced pilot himself, comments: "Pilots are big gadget fans, but paper still counts in the cockpit. Most aviation authorities still enforce traditional maps and charts but this is changing rapidly. With map and chart apps on iPads already permitted in the USA, this is likely to become the default option worldwide over the next few years.

"And with today's airport experience so often unpleasant and unpredictable for airline passengers, they would do well to take the pilots' travel tips onboard and arrive prepared – often for delays and long queues. The reason pilots are rarely seen without a wheelie case when travelling off duty? Checking in luggage is a time-consuming and increasingly expensive option on airline flights, so best avoided if at all possible".

1. The Pilot Poll 2012 was conducted in March and April 2012. 360 responses were generated from international pilots across the aviation spectrum, using a range of social media; industry forums and media; and pilot networks.


Notes to editors: Read the full results of the Pilot Poll 2012.

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