I found one the right size (or near enough) from my local military surplus store. They're all made to a NATO standard design, which makes shopping a lot easier. The flight suit looks like a pair of overalls, just with more pockets. There are "knee pads" on the thighs: not cushions like you might lean on to do the gardening, but pockets with an open front, where you can stick a pad of paper to write things down in flight. There's also a lot of slots for pens and pencils. I'm told pilots lose their pens a lot, which is kind of worrying when you think about it.
With the knee pads, I'll be able to keep track of all the information I need: the information code letter I receive on the ATIS, the current altimeter setting to use, and any radio frequencies I might need. When navigating cross-country, there's a lot more to write down: the time it took to reach each waypoint, any course deviations, and details of clearances you might receive.
There are other pockets on the sleeves, the ankles, and the chest, cleverly placed so they're still accessible in a harness. You can use them to store maps, your licence, your check-list, and two pairs of glasses if you wear them. (You have to carry a spare: it's the law.) I don't have a licence yet, but I'm supposed to carry my log book instead, so it lives in one of the ankle pockets.
The little pink thing you can see in the photo is a small LED torch. It's not a usual piece of flight equipment, but it's handy for seeing things in the dark hangar, or rooting around the bottom of the cockpit if I drop a pen.
My suit, being military surplus, came with an exciting extra: in one of the pockets, there were two sick bags (unused). I really shouldn't need them for the kind of flying I'm doing, so I've taken them out of the pocket, but I'm not sure what else to do with them. Maybe I'll save them for if I start doing aerobatics.
There are a couple of Velcro patches on the shoulders, and one on the chest, for me to attach my name badge and squadron emblem. Since I don't have a squadron, and I'm going to be flying with Cambridge Flying Group for the foreseeable future, I've chosen to nail my colours to the mast… at least, sew them to the sleeve.
|Fly Cambridge, Yoda does|
Already I can feel that donning the flying suit is becoming a part of my mental warm-up, the pre-flight ritual that gets me into the right mindset. I might not be a pilot yet, but a little dressing-up can help me feel like one.