June 2010 Issue

Quick Turn

Landing on a runway 30 minutes ago doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for taking off again now.

If pilots engage in many cross-country flights during their careers, they’ll often find themselves landing at a destination airport and then departing shortly thereafter. The landing may be to pick up a passenger, to refuel, to take a potty break or for any number of other reasons. As we gain experience, we also develop familiarity with the aircraft and with various aspects of the pre-flight ritual. One of these aspects is getting a weather briefing for the next leg, something we’re often tempted to short-circuit. After all, we just flew through that weather and landed here—how much could it have changed while we were in the head? The temptation during a quick turn like this is to pay the fuel bill, check the fuel caps’ security, light the fire and push on to the next stop without doing much else. We just climbed out of a perfectly good airplane. What could go wrong?

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