IRL: Let's talk equipment! Starting with Headsets!

By; Ailerons into Wind


Now equipment is something that in the early days of flight school you don’t really need to worry about this if you are on a tight budget. Things like headsets, high vis vests and other little items a flightschool depending on which one you attend will be available to provide you.


However it is also a fair note to raise that some flight schools may not provide these and some even require a dress code or uniform which you ultimately have to purchase before they permit you to start the course ( looking at you Aeros with your £££’s uniform )


Some schools may charge members a fee on top of your lessons. Some clubs in the U.K. roughly cost about £100 a year for the membership but again not all do this so choose carefully and remember to get this information prior to committing to a school thus enabling you to budget your funds.. after all it’s an expensive hobby or career to undertake.


Now that’s out of the way let’s look at what you are going to need. starting with Headsets.....


Now this as a student pilot is incredibly important, the wrong type can create so much hassle from missing communications, heavy and uncomfortableness causing the pilot to loose focus of the flight and reach to adjust the headset and well the worst case failure. Now let’s go over a handful of the headsets in the market and a few of their features:


Seen a YT video of a VLOG lately. Almost guaranteed these days that pilot was wearing a set of BOSE A20’s.




They are rated amongst the pilot community at the tier one of headsets but at a £850 starting cost they are certainly not budget friendly for the average student starting out. £850 for the basic model is pretty much 4 hours flying in a PA28. The noise cancelling feature is something that truly is an amazing feature to have when the prop RPM is at 2500 and you’re climbing out getting ATC instructions.


Maintaining these headsets if you look at reviews can be a little troublesome but the pilots and CFI pilots I’ve spoke with who use them swear by them.


Not so popular in the mainstream world but come extremely highly rated are the light speed brand, the flagship model Zulu 3 is a great headset.


A little wider than the Bose but comes with the Noise Cancellation feature and a slight reduced price tag over the BOSE A20’s.


The Zulu 3’s are Bluetooth compatible and also has an app which allows the owner to actively record the ATC comms. Between this and the A20’s it’s a tough call to make and only user preference would change this.


At £825 they are still high end and again not many students will have them on the flight line so consider your budget.




Next up is the David Clark brand.


A long standing highly regarded brand and their flagship model is the X2 pro line. A noise Attenuation head that in my view was one incredibly comfortable headset, the clarity from the radios was super clear coupled with clear mic calls when conversing on the intercom with the instructor.


It’s hybrid noise cancellation feature was also on par with the other high value units.


But at a similar cost to the light speeds with an RRP of £780 they again are mainly seen on CFI’s or qualified pilots over a student but if your budget doesn’t stretch to a set of LS Zulu 3’s or A20’s then these should without question be on the student pilots want list.



Now that’s the “we are eating noodles for a month after buying“ headsets out of the way. Let’s drop into the market that most students can look to purchase without having to eat cold beans for a few weeks.


Below the £500 mark there are few units, my own unit is the David Clark H10-13.4 a great allrounder of a headset and the most common in flight schools today,


The Sound can sometimes feel a little low especially in high noise environments but the mic has been pretty much spot on in part of all my expectations when calling up ATC and talking to the instructor RRP starts at £350 but a solid buy that also comes with readily available replacement parts. The gel cups add a whole new feel over the ear but I do recommend a £5 for the cotton over cups to reduce perspiration when wearing.


A great headset that you can happily hand over to a partner or friend once you are qualified and look to upgrade your headset.



Now onto my last recommendation after all the market is large.


A new comer to the market is the PILOT PA18-50 ANR headset I’ve only tried this unit off comms but found it relatively comfortable apart from the being a little weighty over the 10-13.4. The 9v batt adds to this weight but with Active noise reduction coupled with passive noise the cheaper speakers hugely beneficial to this and the student I know who uses them has reported back the same thoughts after he borrowed mine.


My only concerns with this unit is the parts availability and should something fail. But at £295 the price is incredibly student friendly.



I’m only passing on what experiences I am experiencing throughout my training and if it helps another member avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made then awesome!


Up next on a blog will be Knee boards!

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