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?

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