Copy your weather briefing with SACrED WiNd, pull out your whiz wheel and remember that True Virgins Make Dull Companions, or, if it’s Sunday, Tell Vera Mac Didn’t Call. On a clear day review TOMATO FLAMES (alternately GOOSE A CAT, A FAST MOOSE or ATOMSx2). Remember, though, that if the weather turns ugly you’ll need GRAB CARD or DECARAT. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t forget RAW FAT.
Before climbing into your machine, AVIATE and ARROW, and then do a preflight and get the thing started (for which you’ll need a real checklist). Now it’s simply CRAFTS from Clearance Delivery/Ground Control and CIGAR at the run-up area. Call the tower and BLITTTS as you line up on the runway, or use RECIT, HATS, Lights-Camera-Action, Can I Go Fly or Today Peter Rabbit.
Airborne at cruising altitude you FLARE and enjoy the CAVU weather until — I hate it when this happens — the engine quits. If there’s no fire it’s simply ABCDE. But if you see flames, intone that MA GOT MAD AT DAD thing. For an off-airport landing remember OWLS or PL(ease)START, but should the flames die out on the way down, FAST just might get you restarted.
Whew, that was close.
It’s just not your day because now the weather is deteriorating. Since you GRABCARD’d this morning you know you’re legal to file IFR. But this area is a nonradar environment so you review IPTAFNNR (I Play The Accordion For Nothing, No Reason), FAMEP or HAMSACC. OK, go ahead and file with FSS, copying the clearance with IPTATNTNR (I Place Time Above Type; Next Time; Next Remark). Now it’s just a matter of MAILMAN before the instrument approach with TTTTT at the FAF. You perform a pre-landing checklist with a simple (I kid you not) OBUMMMPFFITCHH. ... Some of us prefer GUMPS.
On the ground and off the runway you MFACTS (or FLARE again) and taxi to your tiedown, where you MIDGET.
When you exit the airplane, remember to speak real English to the line guy.
There are more, but I’ve used up half my allotted words, and besides, spell-checker is completely useless here. Bottom line, of course, is use whatever works for you but use something ... mnemonics, an antique wrinkled card, a plaque on the panel, the POH or the electronic checklists on your G1000.
As you know by now, most of my “wisdom” comes from having learned the hard way. Like the importance of pre-landing checklists (that GUMPS thing). I was doing some proficiency flying in one of Miami Valley’s Beech 18s with chief pilot Kevin Uppstrom (usually the guy being checked) putting my feet to the fire. We shot an ILS approach into Connersville, Indiana, missed, and on the go he failed an engine. Well, I was spectacular — breezed through the memory items, pulled out the emergency checklist, simulated feather and cleaned up the airplane. We came around in left traffic and my speeds and altitudes were a thing of beauty. As we turned a close-in final I remarked to Kev that he’d probably never seen anything done quite so elegantly. He agreed, suggesting only that I might want to put the landing gear down.
And then there was a short trip out to Highland County Airport to attend the funeral of a freight pilot, Sue Soderstrom — a story I’ll tell you later.
Now, nobody else flies my 180, and it lives in a hangar, so I’ll admit my preflight often consists of checking that the tires are round, the fuel caps are on and nothing is dripping. An old friend, Bobby Strunk, a retired US Airways captain, has a lifetime of experience in DC-3s and stuff like Beavers, T-6s and a Staggerwing Beech. So I showed him the 180’s only nasty habit — a tendency to bound down the runway on that damned spring steel gear — and told him to use the airplane whenever he wanted. He took it somewhere, filled it up with gas and put it to bed in the hangar. As usual I was in a hurry when I arrived at the airport, so I did my “abbreviated” preflight and started the engine. As usual 72B fired right up, but then it quit. I tried again ... nothing. I primed ... nothing. I cursed and tried again, but now it was getting late and if I was going to make it to the funeral, I had to start driving right now.
The guys in the maintenance shop across the ramp said they’d take a look at it and I was on the road. Late that afternoon when I got back to the airport and walked into the shop, the three guys just kept working away with their heads down. Finally I asked if anybody had looked at 72B.
“Yeah, we fixed it.”
“Well, what in the hell was the matter with it?”
“It was the fuel selector.”
“The fuel selector was broken?”
“No, but you’ve got to turn it to ‘on’ or the engine won’t run.”
It seems Capt. Strunk was accustomed to turning fuel selectors to the “off” position on shutdown and I was accustomed to ignoring the position of the fuel selector when I started my airplane.
But it won’t happen again because now I use a very simple mnemonic, CTTFSIITBDD — Check That The Fuel Selector Is In The “Both” Detent, Dummy.