Two things that are accepted as fact: 1. You get what you pay for & 2. Pilots are, as a whole, cheap… Kind of funny when you think about it but I’m sure you know at least one pilot who has flown to another airport that wasn’t there flight’s origin or destination just to save $ 0.05 per gallon on fuel.
In any event, a flashlight is one pivotal piece of flight gear for any pilot. Even a pilot that only flies visually (VFR) during the day should have one in their flight bag. A flash light can be used for many things, but remember (like your noise cancelling headset and electronic light bag) it only works if the batteries are good…
During nighttime preflight inspections, a flashlight is obviously necessary to shed light on all of the items you will be inspecting. But during the day a flashlight will help when looking at well-hidden bolts in the tail section as well as when peering into the aircraft nose cowling around the engine.
In the cockpit a source of light is necessary as well. There are endless items a pilot can buy, these include but are in no way limited to:
-A standard flashlight, large or small
-A baseball type cap with lights in the bill
-A glove/set of gloves with lights near the joints/fingertips.
I’ve seen and used all of these types of products. The last two typically only come with white lights, which aren’t good for our night vision as pilots, but for preflights the hat option is great because it isn’t overly bulky like a headlamp, and it shines light exactly where your eyes are looking, a pretty cool concept…
During flight many pilots use red light because it has less negative effects on night vision, but any light (including from the moving map GPS and instrumentation on the dashboard) takes away from the ability to see outside of the airplane. Green and blue colored light can also work well. The disadvantage to red light is that on charts the items in magenta (think non-towered airports and their information blocks) can be hidden. This is something I pass on from having heard it affects so many people, though I have never experienced this and I’ve gone out of my way to try and experience it. Another potential issue is the red light washing out items written in red on a checklist. Many checklists sold commercially feature important items in red text as opposed to black to show significance, these can be washed out with red light form a flashlight, which would of course also be a big issue.
That brings me to the ReviewBeforeFlight product recommendation… As a gadget person and someone who moved on from the Brightline bag when my flashlight didn’t fit in the associated pocked, I take my flight gear very seriously. As I mentioned I have tried them all and there is only one item that I feel confident in recommendaing. The only flashlight (backed up by the flashlight option in both my iPad and iPhone) that you’ll find in my flight bag is the Smith & Wesson Captain’s Flashlight. Retailing for $39.95 in Sportys, I know what you’re thinking…
Why spend $39.95 plus shipping on a flashlight when I can go to Walmart and buy something very similar for 10 bucks? My response, go ahead and enjoy. You get what you pay for. I am very confident that my flashlight will be ready for action when and where I need it. I also know that it is solid and if I accidently drop it (like almost every time I use it) it will keep on trucking like a champ.
The benefits of the Captain’s Flashlight are numerous. First it just feels solid and is well weighted to hold in your hand. It isn’t too light or too heavy, it’s just right. The flashlight runs on three (3) triple-A batteries. There are two switch. One of the switch illuminates all of the white LED lights to provide maximum light for preflight activities. The second switch can illuminate one or three red LED’s. This option allows pilots to select just the right amount of light for their in-cockpit activities.
Again, I firmly recommend this flashlight and if you’re sold, here is a link to the product from Sporty’s.
-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9