Final Checks

Memorize mental checklists for critical phases of flight.

Once in a while we hear of pilots making a mistake that has devastating consequences, such as forgetting to remove the control wheel lock prior to takeoff or landing with the landing gear retracted. It is easy to make a mistake and that’s why we use checklists. But in addition to using a printed or digital list to verify that everything has been done, it is worth getting in the habit of using memorized final checks during critical phases of flight.

For example, before climbing into the airplane, take a final walk around to make sure there is nothing dripping, such as fuel, oil or hydraulic fluid, and that all tiedowns and chocks have been removed. It would be extremely embarrassing to have to shut down the airplane because you are still attached to your parking spot. And if you don’t realize you are still tied down and add enough power to get free you could seriously damage the airplane.

Right before takeoff, once cleared by the controllers, you may want to add a few items to your memorized “lights, camera, action” list. “Gas on both, controls free, trim and flaps set, engine instruments in the green,” are all items that, if not verified, could put a very sad end to your flight.

Short final is another critical phase of flight. Whether you are flying an airplane with retractable gear and a constant speed prop or not, it is definitely worth getting in the habit of stating “gear down, prop full forward, seat belts secured” as you approach the runway numbers.

Critical final memorization items will vary, so you should get intimately familiar with your airplane and customize the memory items for your needs.

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