Faster Flying

Pilot’s choice: Tech for high-flyers

Five people usually found right at the front of the plane share their most-loved travel gizmos 

Headphone guitar amplifier

Says who? Helen MacNamara, Senior First Officer, Boeing 767
I always travel with an electric guitar, but a normal amplifier is the size of a small suitcase – so not very practical. Instead, I take headphones with a built-in amplifier. They’re called amphones and mean I can play as loudly as I want without disturbing anyone. The ones I use are made by Vox, just like my full-size amp at home.


Audible altimeter

Says who? Georgie Roles, Senior First Officer, Boeing 787
It may seem unusual for a pilot, but I enjoy jumping out of planes. I’m a skydiving instructor and part of a competitive formation team. My job takes me to incredible locations, so I often have my kit with me. The altimeter inside my skydiving helmet makes a beeping noise when I reach the correct altitude to open my parachute. It means I can concentrate on the formations, or just enjoy the view. It’s a great piece of tech that I trust with my life.


Explosive avalanche vest

Says who? Stuart Green, Senior First Officer, Boeing 777

One of my hobbies is ski mountaineering. We tackle difficult winter landscapes by hiking and skiing, and the risk of encountering an avalanche is high. An explosive avalanche vest is an essential piece of safety equipment. It works like an airbag packed into a backpack. If you run into an avalanche, pull the ripcord and the bag inflates in seconds. It protects your head, neck and chest, and will provide buoyancy in the snow to keep you near the surface of the avalanche, making it easier eventually to get out.


Mini water filter

Says who? Scott Forbes, Senior First Officer, Boeing 777

I participate in ultra marathons – running races that are longer than a marathon. My favourite distance is 100km. I have to train when I’m away, so I need the right kit for every environment. My Sawyer mini water filter allows me to drink from almost any water source because it filters out 99 per cent of all water-borne bacteria. If you underestimate the temperature in hot climates, this could be the single most important gadget you own.


Mountable, wearable camcorder

Says who? Allison Pack, Senior First Officer, Boeing 777

I really enjoy skiing and particularly love Calgary. It’s an exhilarating escape with spectacular scenery, but it can be tough to capture when you’re focused on the slope. A GoPro camera is the answer. It catches all the action when it’s mounted on your helmet, so you can share some of the sights, and, of course, show off how well you tackled the mountain.