Top 5 iPad Accessories For Pilots

The iPad has changed the way pilots fly, making it easier than ever to view a moving map, weight and balance data, in-flight weather, and more. But to get all those features, you'll need a few accessories. Here is our list of the top five must-have products for anyone flying with a tablet.

1. ADS-B Receiver

Practically an essential for iPad pilots who fly cross country or IFR, these all-in-one portable receivers deliver a wealth of data to your iPad: subscription-free weather, traffic, GPS, backup attitude, flight data recording, and pressure altitude sensor. Best of all, they're battery-powered and require just a single button push to operate. Like a good ANR headset, an ADS-B receiver quickly pays back the initial investment.

Top Choice: Sentry Plus 

Why it's the best: The Sentry line of ADS-B receivers were designed to exclusively work with ForeFlight, aviation's most widely used iPad app. The top-of-the-line Sentry Plus model contains all the bells and whistles, including ADS-B weather replay, dual-band traffic, pressure altitude monitoring, flight data recorder, G-meter, and a built-in AHRS to drive ForeFlight's synthetic vision. The integrated screen is a great way to see what is going on with the unit. 

On a budget: Sentry Mini, Garmin GDL 50

Want to learn more? Check out this portable ADS-B receiver buyer's guide


2. Backup Power 

Most of the (very rare) issues we've had with the iPad have been due to running out of battery. So it's only smart to have a backup for those days when you fly longer than expected or forget to charge your iPad. Fortunately, there are more options than ever. Try to get something with multiple ports so you can do multiple devices at the same time.

Top Choice: Flight Gear Backup Battery Pack

Why it's the best: A standalone battery pack is an essential backup, and it works anywhere - even in airplanes without an electrical system. This model is the best one we've seen: it has 3 USB-A ports and one USB-C port.  Packed with 20,000 mAh of juice, we've charged an iPad, Sentry, GoPro and two iPhones at the same time. Even with all that power, it's surprisingly small and portable, plus it won't create noise in your aircraft radios.

On a budget: Flight Gear Dual USB Charger


3. Flight Bag 

Flight bags have evolved considerably over the past 5 years, featuring a smaller footprint with well-thought out pockets to keep your electronic gadgets organized and secure. They're also more stylish. A good one can protect and organize your iPad, mount/kneeboard, charging cords, headset and more.

Top Choice: Flight Outfitters Lift

Why it's the best: This compact, square-shaped bag features a padded center pocket for your iPad, surrounded by additional side pockets for a headset or smaller iPad accessories. The fold-out style is handy in the airplane, especially if you’re flying single pilot and have the flight bag on the right seat – you can open only the pocket you need, and grab your gear with one hand. It also fits perfectly between the front two seats in a 172 or 182. 

On a budget: Flight Gear iPad Bag


4. Kneeboard 

Securing your iPad in the cockpit is important for safety and for ease of use. There are two main options for this: a kneeboard or a mounting system. Kneeboards are generally more affordable, and offer additional storage pockets. They're ideal for renters or flying club members.

Top Choice: Flight Gear iPad Kneeboard

Why it's the best: The latest generation of this popular kneeboard is just the right size, with enough room for your iPad, some cords, and a cleaning cloth, but without being too big or cumbersome. The iPad panel can tilt and rotate so you find just the right position for your airplane. For smaller cockpits, we like how the kneeboard can fold in half so it's only a single panel.

On a budget: iPad Rotating Kneeboard


5. Mount 

If a kneeboard doesn't work in your airplane, a mount is a great alternative. There are lots of options here, from suction cup mounts for side windows to yoke mounts. There are plenty of brands offering mounts, and most of them are quite good, but there are significant differences between them to consider.

Top Choice: PIVOT Case and Mount - iPad Mini 

Why it's the best: This deluxe system, used by Southwest Airlines pilots every day, is a protective case and suction cup mount in one. It's well-made, easy-to-use and doesn't take up too much space in the cockpit. When you're done flying, it quickly removes from the suction cup and becomes a good, everyday case.

On a budget: Robust Mounts 

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