Pilot's tip of the week

Emergency Checklist Memorization


Subscriber question:

“I’m working on a multi-engine rating in a glass panel airplane. Between the engines and the gizmos, I can’t remember all the emergency procedures while trying to fly the airplane. Is there a secret to this?” — Tanja R.


“I can spit out an emergency procedure sitting on the ground in a chair. But for years if you put me in a cockpit and asked me to say that same emergency procedure while flying … well, it wasn’t pretty.

At one of my required simulator recurrency sessions, however, I picked up a tip and it goes like this: Throw a pen up and down in your hand while you practice your call-outs out loud.

Physically diverting your attention with a tactile act mimics what happens to your brain in the airplane. If you can regurgitate procedures with a distraction, you’ll be better able to do it in the cockpit. It’s simple but effective. A similar but less safe alternative is to say procedures out loud while driving. The pen trick is safer, though.

Now I study all of my various callouts (and there are more than a few) while juggling. I feel like this will be even better than chair flying because chair flying doesn’t create the same mental distraction.

The next time you have to study, up-level your rote memorization by adding in a physical component.”

How often do you practice recalling emergency checklists from memory?

(NEW) VFR Mastery scenario #70 “Next Step, Climb?” is now available. How hot is too hot in an airplane with simple engine instrumentation and showing no other sign of distress? What do you do when the POH guidance provides no useful guidance at all. Is this an emergency, business as usual, or something in between? Watch the Intro video.

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