4 things to look for in a flashlight
A pilot's flashlight could be a real life saver in an emergency, but it also needs to be suited for daily use.
- Multi-color. Preserving night vision is super important, so getting a flashlight with multiple colors is a plus. Further, make sure it has independent switches for the different colors of light. You don't want to scroll through blinding white light to get to the night vision-friendly red light.
- Standard Batteries. Simplicity is key. Most pilots carry spare alkaline batteries for headsets and other gadgets. Most FBOs have alkaline batteries available. Rarely will you find CR123 or button-cell batteries.
- LEDs. Never worry about changing a bulb when you have LEDs.
- Quality. Cheap gas station flashlights do not belong in the cockpit. Spend a couple extra bucks and get a name brand that will last.
4 things to avoid
- User manuals. If a flashlight requires a user manual for operation, it does not belong in the cockpit. Pilots are simple creatures. Me push button, light go on.
- Really, really, really bright light. You will have to use this in the cockpit. There is a such thing as too bright. You don't need to illuminate an elk at 500 yards while you're in the cockpit of a 172.
- Rechargable lights. When you really need a flashlight, you need it to work. It's not the time to worry about the last time you charged the light in your bag.
- Multipurpose devices. It's a knife, it's a bottle opener, it's a flashlight... Jack of all trades, master of none. Stick to a flashlight that is just a flashlight.
We often get the question: "What is the best flashlight for pilots?" This is like asking a pilot, "What's is the best plane for you?" Every pilot has a unique mission, so while a 2-seat LSA might be perfect for some, a Cherokee 6 is needed for others. Flashlights are the same, so my favorites might not necessarily be the one you need, but here are the two in my flight bag:
Smith & Wesson Captain's Flashlight
A perfect all-around light. 10 white LEDs for preflight and 3 red LEDs for in the cockpit - with independent switches. Made with aircraft-grade alluminum, this light has been in my flight bag for years.
Flight Outfitters Pilot's Headlamp
There are times when you need both hands free. This headlamp gives white and red light options, and has multiple intensities.