Pilot's tip of the week

IFR Cockpit Organization


Subscriber question:

"Recently, I was making an instrument departure and just after entering the clouds had to immediately return to the airport due to a rough running engine. Luckily, my CFII was with me and was able to quickly load the approach into my GPS and pull up the approach plate on his tablet. I just wanted to pass along the importance of having all this information ready before taking off in case something happens, especially if you are flying single pilot." - George R.


“Talk about the workload involved in flying IFR, and one of the great ways in managing this workload is to be well organized, and that organization begins as you plan the flight.

So, before you walk out to the plane, you have the departure airport approach plates loaded, so that if you do have a failure and have to come back, you now don’t have to scramble to find that approach chart back into the airport you just departed from.

I remember…I used to fly a Malibu Mirage with another pilot. We shared the flying chores with it. He departed out of Westfield, Massachusetts into a 300-foot ceiling and noticed light flickering on the right rudder pedals. He kind of scratched his head, What the heck is that? And then he smelled the very familiar smell of electrical wires burning and realized, Yikes! I’ve got a fire!

He called Bradley (Approach) and said, “I’ve got a cockpit fire. I’m going to need to return to Westfield.

He was prepared for it because he had not only the VOR2 approach out, but the ILS20, as well. This was part of his cockpit organization. This fella had been a TWA pilot.

So, having our departure approach plates, having our arrival approach plates ready, having our alternate approach plates already organized, however you want to do it. But these things should be organized prior to getting to the aircraft, now as emergencies come up or problems come up, you’re ready for it.”

Get the Pilot’s Tip of the Week

Sign up here to receive tips like this every week along with videos, quizzes and more.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.