Roll It!

Airplane tires are durable things that will last for many years if taken care of properly. But just one bad landing can burn off a thick layer of rubber in one small area of the tire. Many flight schools and flying clubs have it as a policy that pilots who damage tires pay for their mistakes. And frankly, if you land with your feet on the brakes, you shouldn’t make your fellow renters or club members pay.

But you may get stuck with somebody else’s bill if you don’t inspect the tires properly before you plant yourself inside the cockpit. If there is a bald spot on one or both of the mains, it is likely to be hidden since the wheels have a tendency to prefer to rest on the flatter portion of the tire. So it’s a good idea to roll the airplane to inspect each portion of the tire.

Inspecting the tire by rolling the airplane is very quick and easy if there are no wheelpants attached to the wheel. In this case you can already see at least 75 percent of the tire before you begin to move the airplane. One quick roll is sure to do the trick. But with wheelpants, you will have a harder time watching the wheels as you roll the airplane. You may have to stop a few times and crouch down to look at the exposed parts of the wheel. Those extra minutes of preflighting could be worth spending.

A flat tire incident during a landing is unlikely to cause any injuries to you or the rest of the airplane, but it could put a significant ding in your flying budget. Even if you don’t end up with a flat, the pilot after you may roll the airplane, find the flat spot and get you stuck with the invoice since you were the last one to fly.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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