Flashlights and headlamps are invaluable tools for pilots for pre-flight checks and for use in the cockpit. However, it’s not as simple as going to your nearest gas station and picking the first one you see up.
A well-designed aviation flashlight or headlamp for aviation purposes needs to strike just the right balance between ease of use, brightness, and dependability. Various color and brightness modes are therefore a must, along with a couple of other things.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Best Flashlights for Pilots
- 2 The Best Headlamps for Pilots
- 3 What to Consider When Buying an Aviation Flashlight or Headlamp
The Best Flashlights for Pilots
Smith & Wesson Dual Beam Flashlight
A flashlight with the quality we have come to expect from Smith & Wesson.Check Amazon for Pricing
Smith & Wesson is a name that is synonymous with quality – and the Smith & Wesson Dual Beam Flashlight (white and red) that takes 3x AAA batteries, and has a runtime of 2.25 hours is no exception.
You’ll appreciate the separate buttons for quick selection without having to cycle through various color and brightness options. The pocket clip is another nice touch.
Flight Outfitters Bush Pilot Flashlight
The best rechargrable aviation flashlight out there.
The flashlight is fully rechargeable via a USB port from either a cigarette lighter, portable battery pack, or wall plug.
My favorite feature, though, is the Smart Select Dial that provides five different lighting modes without having to scroll through each one.
Brightness ranged from 1,000 lumens for preflight checks, to a much softer, low-level green light (120 hours runtime), which came in handy when flying with passengers at night.
Definitely built to last, the Flight Outfitters Bush Pilot Flashlight is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, is water and impact-resistant, and can handle the toughest of environments.
Other features include spot and flood light modes, a strobe setting for emergency signaling, a belt/pocket clip, and a 4 zoom beam design.
Ledlenser P7 Flashlight
Recommended for its simplicty and dependability.Check Amazon for Pricing
Simplicity and dependability is the name of the game with the Ledlenser P7 Flashlight. It might not come with as many features as other models, but I found that what it can do, it did very well.
The P7 has 3 light modes (Power, Low Power, and Boost), with smartly placed buttons on its compact, aluminum grade body. The flashlight arguably shone brighter than any other on this list, which was useful for preflight checks, but thankfully its low power mode was also ideally suited for use in the cockpit.
The P7 takes 4x AAA batteries (though rechargeable batteries can also be used), is IPX-4 water-resistant, and is backed by a very generous 7-year warranty.
Pilots will appreciate the 5 power modes, and just 2x AA batteries required for operationNew: $44.95
There’s a lot to like about the Nitecore MT20A, but what I like most is that it is powered by just 2x AA batteries, which are easy to find and will save you more money in the long run compared to other aviation flashlights.
The flashlight has 5 power modes (Turbo, High, Mid, Low, Ultralow) that are toggled through a well-designed step-up/step-down switch, and the brightness level is even smartly remembered after the flashlight is turned off.
The MT20A has an IPX-8 waterproof rating, is shockproof from 2m, and has light modes that include red light, strobe, SOS, and Beacon.
Operation ranges from 1 hour 45 minutes to 180 hours depending on the power mode.
The Best Headlamps for Pilots
Flight Outfitters Headlamp
Pilots will love the separate buttons to change color modes.New: $29.95
One of the best features of Flight Outfitters LED Headlamp is how there are separate buttons to switch between the white and red light color modes.
This is a welcome enough feature on flashlights, but on headlamps, where you can’t depend on your sight to guide you, this is invaluable and makes the Flight Outfitters LED Headlamp worth the price alone.
Both color modes have High and Low settings as well as the option to focus the light, so whether you need to perform preflight checks, or require softer light in the cockpit, this headlamp was up to the task.
The Flight Outfitters Headlamp also features a useful pivoting attachment point and takes 3x AAA batteries.
A great option for pilots looking for a headlamp with several lighting modes.New: $15.99
Despite its lightweight and comfortable design, the EverBrite Headlamp is a great option for any pilot looking for a headlamp with several lighting modes.
The dual switches on top of the headlamp toggle between High, Medium, Low, Strobe, White, Red, and Green lighting. The red and green lights brightness can’t be adjusted, but they are at just the right level for cockpit use.
Nitecore NU25 Headlamp
A great pick for pilots looking for a rechargeable headlampCheck Amazon for Pricing
If you’re looking for a rechargeable aviation headlamp, look no further than the Nitecore NU25.
Just a USB power source and the included micro-USB charging cable are all that are required for 16-hour operation depending on the power mode.
3 light sources are available, including white, red, and high CRI, with 4 adjustable brightness levels.
The NU25 is compact and lightweight weighing just under 2 ounces and is comfortable to wear for long periods. Despite its lightweight design, the headlamp manages to be impact resistant from 1.5 meters and is also waterproof.
What to Consider When Buying an Aviation Flashlight or Headlamp
- Power Source/Battery Type
If you’re like most pilots you probably have a few alkaline batteries packed away in your flight bag or in the cockpit for your aviation headset or handheld aviation radio. You may as well continue the trend and add a flashlight and headlamp to the list of gadgets that take the same batteries, rather than relying on the less common CR-123 or button-cell batteries.
Another option is flashlights or headlamps that take rechargeable batteries. These devices can easily be charged in the cockpit through the cigarette lighter, through a portable battery pack, or via a wall adapter. They can often be a smart choice as you will save on the cost of batteries in the long run.
It’s not strictly necessary to buy a model that displays multiple colors, but it can be a good idea to preserve night vision. The best aviation flashlights and headlamps for pilots are those that can change color at the touch of a button instead of having to scroll through all white light options.
Remember that you will be using a flashlight or headlamp in the cockpit, so you definitely don’t want to be blinded by the white light. Fortunately, most flashlights have brightness levels that can be adjusted.
It’s easy to fall into the trap that a flashlight is just a flashlight and any one will do. Don’t make this mistake and skimp on quality. You don’t want to rely on a gas station flashlight in the cockpit. Spend a little extra and opt for a reliable name brand.
- Standalone Model
A flashlight tacked onto a swiss army knife-like device as an afterthought is something that you want to avoid. Stick to flashlights that have the singular purpose of just being a flashlight instead of a jack of all trades, master of none.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.