The PreFlight

Teaching students about making a thorough preflight check is easy early in training.  On the whole, new students are very conscientious and methodical, sometimes overly so.  As they become more confident and capable, things –including the preflight– begin to roll a bit more smoothly.

It is the student later in training, and after receiving their certificate that sometimes is tempted to cut corners.  The preflight begins to be done as if it were a race and the attention to detail begins to wane.  For probably most of these pilots their oversight will have no noticable consequence.  But here’s the question:  Why rush it?  Is it really worth the risk?

I teach a preflight that is based on the old 70’s era Cessna manuals that was systematic and methodical.  You start at the baggage door on the left side and work your way around the aircraft the same way, every time.  There’s something to be said for routine, especially when conducting a preflight check.

Even (or especially) if the plane is regularly flown, take time to check it over.  You don’t know what happened on its last flight.  Did they, as I discovered on one plane I used to fly, drag the tail down the runway while in the flare?  Did that damage anything?  Did they lock the brakes and damage the tires?  Did they fuel it properly or fail to report something faulty?

It’s your posterior (and that of your family, students etc.)  you are putting in the plane.  Check it.


2 responses to “The PreFlight

  1. I’m very conscious of the pre-flight routine, Chris. Even now when I’m just doing my area solos, there are temptations to cut corners. If the plane was late from the last lesson and my instructor is keen to get rolling; or, if the weather is closing in and we’re keen to get an hour in the circuit or the training area before things get worse. There are plenty of niggling little pressures that appeal to your desire to just get in and get going. You gotta fight these, every time, all the time!

  2. You got it. I’m the same way…it’s so easy to get in a hurry and just skim through it. I read of one fellow that ran through his preflight, jumped in and taxied to the hold lines for his runup. There he had this niggling thought that he hadn’t drained the tanks. So he did the “unthinkable”…he shut down (not a busy airport) got out and drained the tanks. Good thing! He drained 3 cups of water from the right wing!

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