Sunny summer days look inviting, and it’s true that you can enjoy a cross-country excursion on a warm day, but hot weather flying takes a little extra forethought and preparation. A plane that’s sitting out on the tarmac baking in the sun can quickly become swelteringly hot. The same is true in the air for a low-wing aircraft with lots of windows.
Before you venture out to the airfield and fire up the engine on a 90-degree day, what’s your plan for how to stay cool in the cockpit?
If you still need to get your hot weather flying gear in order or refresh your kit, we can help get you started. We’ve put together a list of the top 7 pieces of equipment to keep you, your electronics, and your passengers comfortable this summer. Here’s what we recommend:
1. iPad Cool Case
We all know electronics don’t do well with heat, especially when they are turned on and running non-stop. Any pilot who has ditched the paper sectionals or stowed them as backups in favor of flying with an electronic flight bag knows that iPads heat up quickly when running in a hot, sunny cockpit for the duration of a flight.
The solution is an iPad cooling case. iPad cool cases prevent devices from overheating even in direct sunlight by using a small thermal blower to generate air flow around the device.
We keep the latest models of cases in stock and currently have a Generation 1 iPad Pro 11 and Generation 4 iPad Air cool case plus a Generation 2 iPad Pro 11 cool case.
2. Cooling Gel Seat and Back Cushions
Comfortable memory foam cushions with a thermoregulating gel layer feel like the height of luxury during hours-long cross-country flights in the dog days of summer. Start with a lumbar cushion to cradle and support your lower back, then pair it with either a standard or coccyx-protecting seat cushion.
All three cushions use a high-density memory foam base to provide conforming pressure relief for the duration of your flight. A removable and washable mesh cushion cover wicks moisture and channels heat into the top layer of cool-relief gel cells. The gel disperses your body heat to keep you comfortable.
The standard seat cushion is 2-1/2” thick, while both the coccyx and lumbar cushions are an impressive 3-1/2” thick.
3. Food and Drink Coolers
Whether you’re planning an afternoon picnic at a scenic destination, packing meals for a weekend fly-in, or getting ready to visit an air show, a quality travel cooler is a must-have for summer months.
A rolling cooler or one that can be slid on top of your rolling luggage is a good choice for flight crew coolers. If you’re in the market for an air show cooler or fly in cooler, look for quality insulation that can stand up to being out in the heat for extended periods of time.
Pilots who want to streamline their gear and decrease the number of carryon bags will love Aerocoast’s PRO EFB + Cooler combos with separate pockets for your food/drinks and your cockpit essentials.
Pro Tip: While you’re packing the cooler, remember to include your double wall pilot water bottle filled with a cool, hydrating beverage. You can also freeze some extra plastic water bottles and use them as ice packs until they thaw.
4. Pilot Sunglasses
Safety, comfort, fashion—they all come together when selecting a pair of pilot sunglasses. On a clear day, a tinted windscreen and visors just aren’t enough to protect your eyes and keep the glare from blocking your ability to see other aircraft. Of course, you naturally want to pick a pair of shades that fits well, feels comfortable, and looks great.
We have plenty of pilot sunglasses to choose from including quality frames from brands like Revo and Oakley.
Pro Tip: You’ve protected your eyes, but don’t forget about your skin and lips. Summer flying means the need to wear (and pack) sunscreen and SPF lip balm too.
5. Sun visors
A new pair of UV blocking sunglasses isn’t the only way to protect your eyes from the summer glare. RAM mount and slap on sun visors are another great way to dim the cockpit. These movable visors are perfect for days when the sun is positioned where your aircraft’s built-in visors just can’t block it. The olive-green tint absorbs up to 78% of the light spectrum so you can see without squinting even on the brightest of summer days.
6. Mesh Pilot Shoes
Sweaty feet may rarely cause a safety hazard, but they certainly can be uncomfortable, and if you’re traveling with passengers, smelly toes are not a welcome scent. Help your feet breathe easy and stay cool even if the temperature on the tarmac is elevated by choosing a pair of airy yet supportive mesh pilot shoes.
Lift Aviation’s Air Boss pilot shoes are available in white or black with a breathable mesh body and anti-microbial insoles plus a cushioned midsole and patent-pending heel slider that add to the comfort level. The outsole is heat and oil resistant with a special bi-lateral grip system that keeps your feet from slipping on the rudder pedals.
Pro Tip: Speaking of what to wear, an extra change of clothes plus some baby wipes and deodorant are also good ideas for even shorter trips on sweltering hot days.
7. Portable Cooling System
The ultimate way to stay cool in the cockpit during a summer flight is with a portable cooling system. Just because your aircraft doesn’t have built-in air conditioning, that doesn’t mean you are stuck being sticky or forking out a small fortune for an aftermarket integrated AC.
B-Kool’s portable cooling system is an affordable solution that you can take with you from your plane to your boat to your RV. The B-Kool system uses 12-volt or 24-volt power to move air over 10 pounds of ice and a little water, giving you up to an hour of downright chilly 40-degree airflow even in humid climates. Think of it as an affordable portable AC.
Craving more summer comfort? Keep reading to learn more about the best pilot sunglasses and how aircraft air conditioning works:
- The Best Sunglasses for Pilots
- Changing Times – Why Polarized frames now work in the cockpit
- Aircraft Air Conditioning: All the Details You Need to Know
It’s your turn to weigh in. Do you have any summer flying gear we didn’t include in this roundup? What’s your favorite piece of gear that helps you beat the heat in the cockpit?