By Cory Puuri, EAA 1108982
I started my flight training in November 2015 and received my ticket at KOSH on July 20, 2016, the week before convention! Like most student pilots, a big concern of mine starting out was radio communications. From ground school, I knew that following checklists and accepted conventions for VFR radio communication would help ensure I was doing my part to keep everyone on the same page. I knew I wanted to script out my radio communications for consistency and completeness, have a quick reference for airport layouts and key procedures, and be able to take notes on ATC instructions. I also knew I wanted to avoid the distraction of shuffling through a lot of documents.
I decided I’d need to get a kneeboard and create my own quick reference card with important information. I wanted to be able to write on the card but I also wanted it to be reusable, so I decided to go the dry erase marker route. After doing a bit of online shopping I determined there wasn’t anything on the market that fit all my needs, so, I decided to construct my own kneeboard.
My shopping list included:
Two mated 20-inch, heavy-duty, 2-inch-wide VELCRO strips
Strip of 2-by-20-inch cloth
Rigid plastic document protector
Fine-point dry erase markers
Many of these products can be found around the house, but if you need to go shopping remember EAA members receive a discount at Office Depot and OfficeMax stores. I spent less than $15, but you may have to spend a bit more if you don’t have the VELCRO.
Now, on to the build.
Step 1 – Cut the document protector to size
I used scissors to cut it down so that one end tucks under the clip of the clipboard and the other end is flush with the opposite edge of the clipboard, including rounding the edges.
Step 2 – Cut two mated VELCRO strips to 20 inches and a strip of cloth to 2-by-20 inches
You may need to adjust strip lengths to fit your thigh. I measured my thigh, determined how much overlap I would need, and cut it to that length. The cloth will be used to cover any exposed VELCRO adhesive.
Step 3 – Attach the VELCRO strips to the clipboard
They should meet end to end in the center of the clipboard. The adhesive is incredibly sticky and you may only get one chance to adhere it in the desired location. Consider marking the location of the strips on the back of the board and expose only enough adhesive backing to adhere the VELCRO to the clipboard.
Step 4 – Finish attaching the front side and cover adhesive.
Remove the rest of the adhesive covering. Place the cloth over the VELCRO’s adhesive and across the front of the clipboard, leaving about 10 inches of exposed VELCRO adhesive on each end of the VELCRO strips. Fold each end in about 5 inches to cover the remaining adhesive up without overlapping the cloth.
Step 5 – Place the document protector on the clipboard surface, insert reference materials, and go flying!
I place the clipboard upside down on my knee so it is easier to access documents. When I am flying cross-country, I glue the departure airport reference sheet to the arrival airport sheet back-to-back to reduce paper shuffling. (Before I did this I once dropped an arrival airport sheet on the floor — not fun on a solo cross-country!)
As with anything, there’s always room for improvement, so try it out and keep tinkering!