When your office floats on the water and flies through the air, you need to be prepared for what the day is going to bring.

You’re as likely to end up in Desolation Sound as you are to spend the afternoon soaring over Seattle. With so many potential destinations, a seasoned pilot knows a few items can make all the difference.

Kenmore Air’s chief pilot Chuck Perry is as seasoned as they come. That’s why he carries one of the most comprehensive pilot’s bags around. To get the inside scoop on the tools of the trade, I grabbed a cup of coffee with him before he hit the air for the day.

Here’s what’s in his bag. 

I wear a Speedlight Zulu headset. It’s noise canceling and relatively light. If you feel the ear pads, they’re pretty soft. This is a headset I can wear all day. And that’s important, because it’s pretty common during the summer to work a 12-hour day.

I carry my old Ray-Bans as a backup, Now I wear a pair of Serengetis on a daily basis. That’s one thing about pilots – most of us wear really good sunglasses. Even my backups provide good protection.


While Chuck was quick to point out his headset and sunglasses were by far the most important tools, his bag was filled with a lot more.


Handheld GPS
Now days, all of our planes are equipped with GPS. That didn’t used to be the case, so every pilot had their own. Even still, some pilots prefer their own GPS system to the ones in the plane. I keep this with me just in case.

When would Chuck face a “just incase” scenario? 
Plane deliveries and pickups. Kenmore Air works on planes all around the globe. While we don’t fly planes across oceans, we do fly to remote destinations like Ketchikan.

My phone goes everywhere. It’s always off when we’re in flight. Even though some folks don’t believe it – it really does mess with the radio systems. But when we’re docked, my phone lets me stay in touch with headquarters and the rest of the world.

It’s also pretty much replaced my camera. I carry a camera, but I should just take it home. My phone takes such good pictures I don’t really use it.

Water Bottle & Coffee
Most of us have some form of a water bottle. Mine’s pretty small, but I always keep it full before I go on flights. Just in case. 

And of course my coffee cup. I’ve had this cup since 1988. It fell out of the plane and hit the spreader bar once, but I saved it.

I’m very bad at using. Some are faithful, but I’m not.

Generally speaking, my food consists of granola bars, Corn Nuts and regular nuts.

What kind of Corn Nuts you ask? 
Original. Only original.

Extra Earplugs
I carry these for times when I get a ride somewhere, like to Lake Union. I don’t plug in my headset and talk with the pilot. They are nervous enough that I’m in the plane with them. So I try to sit where I can’t see them. I just tell them to do what they’re going to do and pretend I’m not there.

I was that way too. When I first came to work [at Kenmore], I’d been here about two months and Gregg Munro wanted me to fly him over to Sequim. I’m just sitting there looking at him like, ‘No. Not me.’ The next thing you know I’m picking him up and flying him all over the place.

Reading Glasses, Toiletries, Spare Batteries & Navigation Charts