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All in one (electronic) place

It is so easy to go down a rabbit hole when researching the origins of, well, anything.
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Panel-mounted moving maps and portable cockpit devices such as iPads and apps such as ForeFlight have helped pilots improve their situational awareness, July 15. Photo by David Tulis.

So, can you guess what is based on each of these three things: packing up your troubles, the first woman type rated in a Boeing 747, and a 1999 patent? If you guessed kit bag, Angela Masson, and the first electronic flight bag, apply to appear on Jeopardy!

Soldiers in the First World War (The Great War) carried all their essentials in a “kit” bag, which was shaped much like the U.S. “duffel” bag—long and rectangular. There was a songwriting contest to boost morale and the ditty Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag won (sorry about that earworm if you know the tune). Angela Masson, the first woman type rated in the 747—and an Italian singer, an artist, and the reason women were eventually admitted to fly in the military (she wrote the convincing white paper)—developed the electronic kit bag and patented it in 1999.

Now more commonly referred to as an electronic flight bag (EFB), the simple formula Masson developed—including all data needed for a flight in an electronic format—is used in cockpits from that big 747 to the Cessna 172 you are training in. It may look different than Masson’s original invention—and much different than a doughboy’s kit bag—it is, however, an essential flight instrument and available in several forms.

Today the iPad is just one of many EFB platforms, but there was a pre-iPad world of aviation. In those prehistoric days pilots had to carry paper, plan flights the night before, figure weight and balance with a pencil, maintain a paper logbook, and spend hours updating instrument approach plates. Today all those tasks are handled by an EFB. “Having an EFB isn’t essential to flying, but it makes all the stuff around it easier and more enjoyable,” says AOPA Senior Content Producer and CFI Ian J. Twombly.

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Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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