Summer vacation flying: Packing for your trip

August 4, 2014

Jeff SimonIf there’s one thing I believe in, it’s that the best way to avoid a component failure during your trip is to bring along a spare. Years ago, after an en route vacuum pump failure put a damper on an otherwise exciting trip, I began carrying a spare pump with me when going far away from home. Ever since I started doing that, I’ve had the most reliable vacuum pumps known to man. Call me crazy, but I have a sneaking suspicion that luck will end as soon as I decide to leave it at home.

That said, there are some common and fairly inexpensive items you may want to consider taking along if you plan to be gone for an extended period of time, especially if your trip includes some remote stops. Here is my short list.

  • Extra oil
  • Spare spark plug
  • Landing light bulb
  • Hydraulic fluid
  • Assortment of hardware (nuts, screws, electrical connectors)
  • Spare tube
  • Spark plug gaskets
  • Safety wire
  • Zip ties
  • Duct tape
  • Super glue
  • High-temp RTV silicone
  • Spare fuses   

Then there’s the homemade “fly away” toolkit.

  • Ratchet, socket, and wrenches for sparkplug removal
  • Dental pick and small mirror
  • Pliers (needle nose, regular and wire cutters/strippers)
  • Adjustable wrench
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver and stubby screwdriver
  • Utility knife
  • Allen wrenches
  • Flashlight  

Bringing along the tools and supplies to help with a maintenance emergency doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to plan to do your own maintenance. But, it can definitely give you a leg up if you get stranded. You may just happen to find an A&P nearby that can lend a hand even if he doesn’t have his tools or supplies with him. If you’re like me, being prepared may well be the best way to avoid having a maintenance issue at all. But, if it does happen, you’ll be beaming with pride that you came prepared for the very issue at hand.

This is just a short list of some of the items I typically bring along with me when traveling and certainly isn’t intended to be the definitive guide to the “aircraft on the ground” kit for everyone. Feel free to comment with your own suggestions for the ultimate toolkit! Happy flying!

Social FlightJeff Simon is an A&P mechanic, pilot, and aircraft owner. He has spent the last 14 years promoting owner-assisted aircraft maintenance as a columnist for several major aviation publications and through his how-to DVD series: The Educated Owner. Jeff is also the creator of SocialFlight, the free mobile app and website that maps over 10,000 aviation events. Free apps available for iPhone, iPad, and Android, and on the Web at www.SocialFlight.com.