Annual Ritual for Aircraft Owners

Compile a list of squawks in order of priority; and stay involved, if you dare.

There's great temptation during your aircraft's annual inspection to take a long vacation and leave the cell phone turned off. What you don't know won't hurt you -- until you get the bill. Another way is to embrace the maintenance process. Not that you need to actually dip into the elbow grease (though some do), but stick around close enough and often enough to become familiar with the blow-by-blow decision making.

Dick Collins used to say that he didn't want to see his beloved Cessna P210 when it was all torn apart during maintenance. I presume it was because that airplane was so much a part of him that it would have been like watching major surgery being performed on himself. I'm detached enough that I enjoy seeing my airplane in various states of disassembly. To me, it's my chance to see all the hidden bits and pieces that I'm paying for, but never get the chance to see in action.

As annual inspection time approaches, I start paying attention to compiling a list of squawks -- typing up the nagging imperfections that I've been living with so regularly that I'm liable to forget to mention them when I turn over the logbooks to the shop. Then I try to prioritize my needs, weighing those items that might be nice to have, but can be deferred for another time if the shop comes up with more pressing concerns that will consume the budget. This year, it's new seals for the cabin door and maybe replacing some of the windows. We'll see how it goes.

Call to action: If you have any tips of your own you'd like to share, or have any questions about flying technique you'd like answered, send me a note at enewsletter@flyingmag.com. We'd love to hear from you.