Pilot's tip of the week

Last Preflight Action


Subscriber question:

"What’s the last thing I should do before I get in my airplane to go fly?"


“Walk a full 360-degree circle around your airplane with eyes wide open. This simple practice can help you avoid some really dumb (and embarrassing) mistakes that have been made by pilots. You can potentially notice and remedy things like:

  • Loose fuel caps
  • Chocks on wheels
  • Pitot tube covers
  • Cowling plugs in place
  • Step ladders
  • Loose panels
  • Damage
  •  Anything out of the ordinary

Consider these real-life examples that could have been avoided by this practice:

  • At our local airport, a Cessna 172 taxied into a small ladder, causing a prop strike and engine teardown inspection.
  • At a nearby airport, a flight school Cessna 172 was flown around the pattern with the cowling plugs installed.
  • A tail dragger airplane was flown with the tow bar attached to the tail wheel.
  • Just recently, I witnessed the classic ‘hopping in the airplane with the chocks on the nose wheel’—a potentially embarrassing situation except for a very observant line attendant who quickly pulled the chocks for the pilot.
  • I’ve even heard of airplanes flying to another airport with the rudder gust lock still installed.

I’m sure the list could go on, but a 360-walkaround habit will help ensure you don’t create yet another one of these unfortunate stories.”

(NEW) VFR Mastery scenario #71 “Which Way Into the Wild?” is now available. Flying through Alaska is a bucket list item for many pilots in the lower 48. Before you can fly through Alaska, you have to get to Alaska. What’s simple and direct exposes you to dire consequences, and what’s roundabout has hidden compromises. Which way will you go? Watch the Intro video.

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