View Full Version : Question for the Pilots

01-11-2007, 09:55 PM
Well today I just passed my FAA written for private pilot and will start my flight training very shortly. I do not feel like spending 5$ every time I go fly on a headset rental. The flight school recommended to me the Lightspeed QRF headset, made in China, 155$ has cell phone hookup to it. Looking on ebay I see another brand named Soft Comm which is made in the USA and actually a little cheaper. I want quality and value, something that will last but wont take away from the flying budget.
Yeh who'd thunk it, I went to an aviation school for ATC, they put me in a ground school, I lost tons of weight and realized I could fly, and now fulfilling a childhood dream...
Yeh guys, hate to say it, but if my southbend lathe was down in Florida i'd sell it to pay for flying.(Get tons more for it than I payed...)

01-11-2007, 10:03 PM
Hey Bill
Where are you taking your flying lessons? And in what type of craft?
I went with the tail dragger because it is so much easier to go to tricycle later if you want to fly them,
I wish you the best, and when the instructer gets out fo the plane and tells you to go and make some landings and takeoffs, hang on to your heart.

01-11-2007, 10:11 PM
It will be a Cessna 172, I'm over at KTMB using ADF flight school. I cannot wait til I get in that airplane and talk to ATC. Oh yes I will be bringing my camera, next week some time it should start...

Jim Caudill
01-11-2007, 10:12 PM
My first career was as a pilot: private, then USAF (flew C-130's and spent 3-1/2 years as a flight instructor in the T-37), Commuter Airline, then corporate aviation. I would go for a good David Clark headset either new or used. The imports I have tried did not hold up well. We used the Soft Comm as passenger headsets for a while, but ended up going to David Clark for them as well. Last headsets I used were the Bose dynamic noise-cancelling. Buy a subscription to Trade-A-Plane (it's cheap if you get it by slow boat to China) to get a feel for what is out there. There are some major discounters of this stuff. Try looking for Chief Aircraft Parts online. Sporty's catalog and website is kind of fun, but a little pricey. You want something that works and is rugged. It's just like buying cheap tools, it is false economy - go quality all the way.

For those of you that would like to know: KTMB is Tamiami airport in Miami Florida

Bill, where is your Southbend and what model is it?

01-11-2007, 10:53 PM
1941 model C with complete set of change gears, looks just like Evans, except his is a little nicer for wear. Its in NY.

01-12-2007, 02:09 AM
Do you need it? I never needed a headset in flight training. The few times I wanted to talk to anybody I used the mic hanging on the dash. (Dropped it and had the cord tangle in the pedals on my first solo.) That was a while ago, I suppose things may have changed.

Jim Caudill
01-12-2007, 02:49 AM
Hopefully the training aircraft is equipped with an intercom system. As expensive as training rentals are, it only makes sense to maximize the training situation. Having to shout or repeat something is wasteful and frustrating for both the student and instructor.

Jim Hubbell
01-12-2007, 03:21 AM
Way to go Bill!! I got my SEL private rating in 1951. Soloed an Aeronca Champ. One hour instruction was $7.50 ( plane and instructor ). Took a chunk of my shirt tail and nailed it to the wall. When you soloed they inducted you into the " short shirters club " Went back a few years ago and the flight shack with all that was gone. Oh well it was fun.

01-12-2007, 08:12 AM
Saw some thing rocket powered parachute attaches to aircraft .Safety device hit button and you theoretically float to the ground at a >?safe speed? BRI chutes i think it was called. I built a buncha parts for a ultralight that actually ended up not really being that ultralight. Kinda looked like a old super cub but skinnier and longer wings. I made the pieces that held the wing onto the fuselage. I suggested a bri chute to the daredevil who owned and flew it but he scoffed at that idea. It has worked well so far. New version under construction now.

01-12-2007, 08:26 AM
Get the best noise-cancelling headset you can afford. Your headset is something you'll be using ALL the time you're flying. You want it to be comfortable and reliable. I had a cheap one quit during an approach to a controlled airport. ATC wasn't happy about that, and it cured me from buying cheap.


01-12-2007, 11:33 AM
I have been flying since 1963 - Private- multiengine- instrument - and own two airplanes, a Cheyene and a Skymaster. I have about 5500 hours.
I have purchased and worn out or destroyed or lost about 25 headsets in the last 43 years going through 13 airplanes.
I would recommend a David Clark headset above all others.
DO NOT buy a noise canceling headset in any brand.
The noise canceling units are more trouble than they are worth. They are complex, some need batteries that fail at awkward times and are more failure prone because they have built-in circuits to perform the noise canceling function. As an electronic design engineer who spent 13 years designing aircraft nav/com equipment I know that simple is better especially when is is critical ATC communications.
Good luck with the lessons and welcome to the pilot ranks-

Steve Stas
01-12-2007, 07:36 PM
Saw this one a little late, to busy in the shop. Flying is what got me into machining, making parts for my airplane years ago (it needed quite a few after a carreer as a military trainer and then cropdusting).

I'll second that comment about taildraggers. Famous old saying--"fly a taildragger--alligators never groundloop."

I slide around the headset issue by telling ATC (the rare times I go to a controlled airpart) I'm in Stearman, no electrical system, only have a portable radio. they're usually pretty accomodating.

However, the quality of the headset can be completely washed out by a noisy ignition system in the airplane, noise cancelling or not, unless you spend about a grand. Even then, it may not cancel bad magneto noise.
If you mainly want a headset that works in the school plane, I suggest you inquire of everyone else that flies that airplane, and find out which ones work best in that one. then buy the most reasonably priced one that works well in that airplane. If it works OK in the school plane, it will probably be Ok in future aircraft that you fly. It's very easy to pay too much.
In my airplane for example, no headset works worth a damn, because the magnetos put out so much RFI that any radio barely works. I think I can tell the RPM by my teeth fillings sparking.

Steve Stas.

01-12-2007, 09:03 PM
Headsets were uncommon when I learned to fly in the 70s. I made my own set using regular padded headphones and some noise cancelling mics with an amplifier and mixer for the radio. Probably still have them around here somewhere.

The airport here is still uncontrolled so NORDO isn't uncommon. There is a Nav Canada station but it is strictly advisory. Gotta use your eyes because we have both commercial jet traffic all year and water bombers in the summer.

01-12-2007, 10:40 PM

A headset is absolutely essential if you want the best learning experience, and it is also a potent safety device.

I used a Dave Clark for almost ten years. The earcups wouldn't go around my ears, and I had to fix the cord or replace the mic every couple of years. I've used a TELEX since 1987 and done nothing to it. I fly for a living, have accumulated in excess of 25,000 hrs. and can still hear my wife!

Have fun.


01-12-2007, 11:50 PM
I did not realize there were so many pilots in this forum. Thanks guys for all the input, I suspected there would be many different opinions.
Been looking at all of them, researching them all. The lightspeeds seam to get great reviews but the DB attenuation on all of them seams to be not as relevant as I thought. Most of the noise is lower freq and all the passive headsets do not work as well at the lower hz, therefore the need for active noise cancellation.
Well that aside, I think im going to go by light weight and comfort. Tomorrow morning I am going to the pilot shop to look at all of them. No one has mentioned the Sennheiser as much.
Guess another thing I should look at is resale value, appears the David Clarks have that beat, although they are a tad bit heavier!
The Telex's are a little heavy and have lower DB ratings...
Those Lightspeeds as far as features for the money seam to be winning, don't know about longetivity.

01-13-2007, 06:36 AM
I fly for a living and I use several different type headsets. When flying in Eastern Europe and China the broken english by ATC is so bad that I use a full Soft Comm. headset which is a David Clark clone. I also make sure my co pilot and flight engineer are also listening close for anything I may have missed.When flying in the U.S. I use a single custom molded earpiece mounted on a Telex PEV 77. Headsets are just essential anymore, in our litigious society it is necessary to arm yourself with all the tools to avoid a mistake and have the Fed's breathing down your neck over what could be a simple mistake or misunderstanding of an ATC clearence.

Weston Bye
01-13-2007, 11:53 AM
Headset rental $5? When I learned to fly 5 bucks was the instructor's fee for an hour.

Just a personal preference:

Whatever headset you get, pay attention to the cord, or rather, how you treat the cord. Avoid unnecessary flexing, twisting and bending especially near the connector and where the cord enters the headset. Cords of any style usually have conductors fail from too much flexing. Usually happens near where they enter the "strain relief". Obviously, when in use your attention should be on flying, but when you disconnect from the plane after the flight, grasp the plug, not the cord to pull it out. coil the cord in a large gentle loop - don't wind it tightly around the headset or itself in a noose.

I try to treat my power tool cords like this and get just a little ticked when someone borrows the tool and returns it with the cord twisted up like a spring. Not only are the conductors stressed, but when I go to use the tool, the cord tends to catch on stuff and is a nusiance to manage.:mad:

01-13-2007, 12:04 PM
I just got back from the pilot shop and tried on a whole host of headsets. I really need to protect my hearing for ATC down the road, so this is rather an important decision to make. Luckily for me, 98% of the headsets don't fit my big head very well. The softcomms squeeze my head way too much. The telexes were nice, and the David clarks were nice. Non ANR headsets, the david clark 20-10? The all composite one was the most comfortable. For ANR, the lightspeed 20 3g is what I think I will end up with after my studen loan comes through. He turned on flight simulator at the pilot and I tried out the ANR function. Man, simply amazing, engine sounds gone!
The cheaper lightspeeds squeezed my head a tad too much. His prices are a tad bit more than online but he went through a lot of trouble to help me select the right headset, I think I shall reward him for his hard work down the line when I go buy a set.

01-13-2007, 11:25 PM
I started out with a entry level set of David Clarke head set and they were fine for a number of years. I then upgraded a set that uses a kit from Headsets Inc. that allows you to use a passive set and gut it. Then using their parts, you end up with an inexpensive, but very useful set of noise canceling head sets. I liked it so much I bought another set complete from them. I say that it extended my flying range, it makes that much difference, I used to have a partnership in a C-172, but now fly a Van's RV6A that I built over 4 1/2 years. One thing for sure, what ever you do, do not fly without a headset, ever.

01-14-2007, 11:01 AM
I'll approach this from a slightly different angle.
I have been an aircraft mechanic for 31 years, in a variety of organizations from flying schools to airline operations. Without a doubt the most common headset in use by professional pilots is a David Clark. (says somthing in itself)From a serviceability point of view, these seem to be a lot less problems as well.

In many organizations I worked for the headsets were part of the a/c equipment, so they were not always treated with the same respect as those owned by the users. David Clark headsets stood the test of time quite well.

AND... whatever flavour you decide upon... use them and save your hearing!


01-14-2007, 01:18 PM
David Clark also makes astronaut space suits. I would expect them to know what they are doing.