Editor's Log

November 1999 Issue

Individual Effort

All pilots have their little secrets. Take the time to share them

Everyone has their own little procedures for making sure they use the correct procedures in the cockpit. It starts with checklists vs. flow checks and continues on to CIGAR and first power reduction after takeoff. Throughout every flight, you’ve got your way of doing things.

Although some people may disagree on the details of the procedures, the purpose is the same and they all seem to get the job done. The nuances are just for hangar talk, anyway.

Sometimes, however, a pilot will zig when he or she should have zagged, and something gets broken. Identifying the source of the problem is the challenge, but there are several likely suspects.

The first is distraction. Who hasn’t been interrupted during preflight and then forgotten where they stopped. How many have picked up where they thought they left off, only to find out later the nose wheel was still chocked or the baggage door was not secure? Although checklists may help, you can lose your place on a list just as easily as you can on a walkaround.

The important thing is to pick up with something you know you’ve done, rather than something you don’t remember doing, and take it from there.

In flight, however, things can get a little dicier.

Identifying what you need to do and verifying that the action you’re about to take is in fact the correct one takes only a second, but that second can save mountains of grief.

One pilot I know of recently was landing a taildragger and got a bit of a bounce. In an attempt to go around, the pilot pushed the bottom lever on the left sidewall of the airplane instead of the top lever. Instead of advancing the throttle to full, the unlucky aviator applied full nose down trim. The result was predictable.

Use all your senses, too. Is that handle you’re about to throw round like a wheel or flat like a wing flap? Your hand can tell you even if your eyes are occupied elsewhere.

The idiosyncracies of flying are all around, so keep an eye out for them every time you fly. And fly with other pilots any time you can. A low time pilot can learn from a high time pilot, yes, but the reverse is also true.

Notice the care a new pilot takes with the preflight inspection or how picky he is on the mag check. Blown through those yourself lately?

Pilots with equal logbooks can teach each other something, too, because everyone has had unique experiences that can be a lesson to others. And maybe you’ll learn a neat trick, like “lights, camera, action” for strobes, transponder and fuel pump.

If so, pass it on.

-Ken Ibold