Traveling across the continent in the plane for the first time was not something I took lightly. I read a lot, studied the charts a lot, and talked to a lot of other pilots. After much consultation, this is what I packed into the plane (before we then loaded it with our luggage). As usual, click on a thumbnail to see the full-sized photo.
Here is the first bunch of stuff. This was packed so that it was most accessible. I ordered a luggage organizer from Sporty’s. That’s in the back row. It has three partitions. In the center one I have all of the approach plate books for the states we planned to traverse, along with some of those that we might enter if we deviated. Now all of these plates are available on the G1000 in software form, but I think even with that option I would rather have paper. It’s easier to flip through a few approaches and having the approach plate open in my lap means that I still have the large moving map on the MFD.
In the grey bag is an Apple iBook. That was for the boys once we reached the East coast, so that they could watch movies. It came in handy.
The item with the handle is the Aviator oxygen generator, which I’ve written about before. These are not yet readily available commercially, but when they are I think I will mount one semi-permanently in the back for long trips. Having oxygen at night helps your night vision and being on oxygen always keeps you sharper.
There are a bunch of sun hats there on the left. And in the plane I had half a dozen sunscreens that stuck to the windows with suction cups.
The red plaid NCIS package is a picnic blanket with a water-resistant side and a nice flannel side. It seemed like a good thing to be carrying in case we wound up having lunch next to the plane on a remote field. Note that one third of the luggage organizer is filled with snacks (and various medications like Advil and Visine). There’s nothing like Pringles at thirteen thousand feet.
In a plastic bag just above the NCIS blanket is the manual fuel gauge that came with the plane. It has a slot for the leading edge of the wing and a little hose that you connect to the drain from the tank. Then you see just how many gallons you have remaining. (The factory ships this with a glass tube to see the fuel next to the graduations. That shattered. My friend Art replaced it with plastic tubing.) The G1000 has a fuel totalizer: you tell it you filled the tanks and it keeps track of exactly what has flowed to the engine, so I guess the fuel gauge is for when you’ve forgotten to reset the totalizer.
The grey and orange rectangles are Thermarest lumbar pillows for the pilot and co-pilot, who are both over forty and have learned to be kind to their backs.
Next up, some items in this group are packed so they are a little harder to reach. In the AOPA bag (free with my membership!) are the maintenance logs and the Pilot Operating Handbook for the plane (including the installed avionics). Those are required to be in the plane by law. The navy blue bag beneath that is a cheat. It’s a $99 toolkit from Sporty’s. Ultimately, I should learn exactly what tools are necessary for the sort of maintenance I can perform on my own, and get good versions of those tools. This is a general, emergency set of tools, which was a good idea for our trip.
In the stuff sack is a down jacket for the times that I forget to bring proper attire in the plane. It’s been incredibly useful the two times I have had to pull it out. A cold pilot doesn’t do a thorough pre-flight and will miss things he listens to on the radio.
The IFR Atlas was kept in the pocket in the back of the pilot’s seat and includes all of the low altitude charts for the entire country. For a hundred bucks, that was impossible to beat.
Third group, stuffed in various places. A bag of water bottles (and an emergency Coca Cola). Four life jackets from Sporty’s. Maybe those wouldn’t be used as we flew over the Rockies and the plains, but the truth is that if you have to put down in an emergency your chances of survival are better on water than land (I guess it’s smooth and level), so it’s good to have your floaties ready. Look for lakes, ponds and reservoirs. The red metal chocks were good because they didn’t damage the wheel pants (some FBOs have chocks that are too big for the little space left by the wheel pants). They were bad because they didn’t keep the plane from rolling away.
There is a small storage space under the main luggage area. It is a pain in the ass to get to. (There’s a cargo net to keep the luggage from jumping around in turbulence. It is attached with six belts. To get to the storage area you have to remove the net, remove the luggage on top, tip the back seats forward (which means emptying the back seats of luggage and people), unsnap a strap and then lift the door.) I figured if I needed four quarts of oil for an engine that only holds eight, we would be emptying the plane anyway. And the tow bar isn’t really necessary, Adam and I could wheel the plane around with one of us on each wingtip. I also put the toolkit down in this space.
That was it. Our packing was very efficient for all of this gear, but then when we loaded Adam in Torrance we just shoved everything he had in on top of it. In Albuquerque we had some time and re-packed our luggage and this equipment so that it all worked really well. I rolled out of my spot at KSMO and left behind my custom chocks (held in place with silicon caulk) for almost a month. I hope to make it a yearly pilgrimage East and refine this list of equipment on each trip.