Develop Your Personal 'One-Week-Out' Checklist

An easy way to ensure you've covered it all because flying is more fun when you know for sure you haven't forgotten something.

It can be frustrating, the morning of a cross-country flight, to discover that you've forgotten something that can't be rectified without delaying your departure. Updating the database of your backup GPS; ordering the most recent sectional for your destination; or recharging your handheld transceiver. It's usually not the absolute no-go items that slip your mind, but rather the backup material that you like to have all lined up.

One way to ensure you have all the bases covered is to develop a one-week-out checklist that you can consult on your computer or your flight planning paperwork well in advance of a long trip. Just knowing you've consulted the list is reassurance that you won't be stuck.

Here are a few suggestions. You can add your own, and as you forget items that haven't made it to the list (and you will) then you can add them along the way:

• Database updates for panel-mount or handheld GPS navigators-including backups. It's not too early to draw up your flight plan for the trip and load it, or review the flight plan if the route is a regular one. The last time you flew it, there might have been ATC-induced insertions, deletions or other changes to the waypoints in the flight plan.

• If you don't have a regular subscription, make sure you've ordered current charts and approach plates (don't forget adjacent charts for possible alternate airports). With my baby-boomer-vintage eyesight, I like to print out large page views of the approaches I am most likely to be using; or at least the airport layout page for frequencies, field elevations, etc.

• Charge or freshen batteries in backup GPS, handheld transceiver, flashlights, etc. [make your own list]

• Call en route and destination FBOs to ensure fuel, parking and service will be available on your travel dates-especially on holiday weekends. You can also ask about any special circumstances such as construction projects or a fly-in breakfast that might not make it to the notam list, and ask about any locally known unofficial arrival procedures, etc. Don't forget about a rental car or other ground transportation arrangements.

• Check and update pilot logbooks for IFR currency (don't forget night currency if there is a possibility of travel after sunset). If currency has lapsed, you have time to schedule a flight to get back up to speed.

• Line up someone to feed your fish while you're away. Joking aside, being distracted by forgotten last-minute household responsibilities the morning of a flight can break your concentration. Having a 'going away from home' list of chores next to your flying list isn't a laughing matter.

You should also have a 'day-before' list, including such items as checking tire pressure, arranging preheat if necessary, checking weather, filing flight plans, lining up the charts on your inflight clipboard, and other chores that cannot be completed a week ahead. Flying is more fun when you know for sure you haven't forgotten something.