Guide to Pilot Kneeboards: Features, Types & Choosing the Right One

Pilot Kneeboard in Cockpit
Pilots rely on a kneeboard to keep important tools and information at their fingertips.

A pilot kneeboard is exactly what it sounds like – a small clipboard strapped to a pilot’s thigh right by the knee. This is an essential tool of the cockpit, whether you’re a student pilot or an airline pilot, and whether you’re flying VFR or IFR. So what does a pilot use it for? Exactly what you would expect – organization.

Before flight, pilots communicate with the tower and review notes. The small kneeboard can hold a lot of information, including sectional charts and checklists. During flight, pilots have everything at their fingertips thanks to the kneeboard. Whether you’re reaching for a folder, notebook, or approach plate, your kneeboard keeps you organized.

What are the design options for a pilot kneeboard?

Kneeboards in Sim
Even in a flight simulator, pilots rely on kneeboards to keep their materials organized.

The concept for decades has been simple. However, newer modular designs address modern technology needs. Your iPad or tablet will fit nicely on a mini model, and others are designed with a pouch for your iPhone. More elaborate designs feature panels to hold a multitude of tools: tablet, charts, pens, phone, etc.

Some are even reversible. They come in leather, canvas, and other materials, and most feature Velcro straps. Those with light are helpful when flying at night. Some come with rings for attaching approach plates and checklists.

Where is the best place to get a kneeboard?

Pilot Tablet Kneeboard
More pilots use electronic tablets in the cockpit these days, which is why kneeboard styles continue to change.

All pilot stores carry kneeboards, as do Amazon and even Walmart. Believe it or not, some pilots have created their own DIY kneeboards. And even if you’re not a pro or “how to” person, there are homemade and customized kneeboards out there. Some pilots even download their own kneeboard templates based on their aviation needs.

So, whether you’re flying a helicopter or an airplane, you’ll be able to find the kneeboard that fits your needs.

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