“Call your product the “ultimate” anything, and there are bound to be a few raised eyebrows in the crowd. So it may be with Harper Aviation’s Ultimate Kneeboard, a strap-to-the-leg affair that purports to hold both Jeppesen and NOS charts, as well as a bevy of at-hand flying necessities.

At first blush, the Ultimate Kneeboard seems to fit the description. It’s made from heavy-duty Cordura nylon material and employs a robust seven-ring binder and industrial-strength hook-and-loop fasteners that connect the elasticized leg band. A stiff plastic insert helps the main portion of the board to retain its shape, while the secondary (right side) flap is unsupported, to allow for the contours of the user’s leg.

Sewn into the secondary flap are elastic pockets that can hold writing devices, a small (very small) E6-B whiz wheel, and the obligatory AA-cell flashlight. A plastic strap laced between the ring binder and a strip of hook-and-loop material is intended to secure torn-out NOS plates; they are also held by the smallish clip at the head of the main Kneeboard body.

We tried the Ultimate with both types of instrument approach plates and can report that it is a much more successful marriage with the Jeppesen product. Simply pick the plates you want in front of you and snap them into the binder. They stay put and in order, no matter how turbulent the flight. What’s more, having the tissue-thin plates in the binder also helps keep them in better shape, even if you don¹t use Jeppesen’s plastic plate protectors. With the NOS product, we found that the Ultimate Kneeboard worked well enough, although the binder tended to get in the way. Since it wasn’t being used, this binder seemed much more obtrusive than it was when using the Jeppesen plates.

High marks go to the side-plate holders. We slid a number of pencils and a flashlight into the elastic pockets and were pleased to find they all fit, and quite comfortably, too. Some pilots — and let’s be diplomatic and say those with thicker-than-average thighs — might find the range of adjustment on the leg strap a bit narrow, an observation complicated by the heavy-duty elastic itself. Ours stretched a bit and became more comfortable with age, however.

Not only is the Ultimate Kneeboard well built, it’s reasonably inexpensive. For a suggested retail price of $29.95, it’s an excellent value. The Ultimate Kneeboard should be available in your local pilot shop. For more information, contact Harper Aviation, Post Office Box 35, Eagle, Idaho 83616.”

— Marc E. Cook

Reprinted from the May 1995 issue of AOPA Pilot.
Copyright 1995 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association