Happiness is a Thorough Preflight


by Clint White

It still amazes me when I get the airport, how many pilots still fail to conduct a through preflight on their airplane. They seemingly just do a quick walk around, hop in and go. This “kick the tires and light the fires” mentality can have some deadly consequences and it can be easy to overlook little things that can lead to big issues in the air.

I currently manage a turboprop aircraft and one of the things we like do is have the airplane in the “ready” position at all times should it be needed at short notice. Sometimes, things get a little slow and the airplane can sit in the hangar for a week or more. It may be tempting for wait to preflight the plane the day of the flight, but  for both safety and aircraft utilization I like to come out a few days before, just to make sure everything is ok in addition to the preflight right before you depart. You might be amazed at what you find.

The use of your preflight checklist is a no brainer, but when your airplane sits for a bit you may need to probe deeper. I recently came out to our airplane and found the pitot tubes in the condition below: (Keep in mind both pilot tubes had been covered the whole time).

always do your preflight 

The right pilot tube had been almost complete clogged by a spider while the left pilot tube was full of sand!

Imagine if the airplane had just been pulled out, checked quickly and departed in this condition, especially in IFR. Could have made for a VERY bad day!

It may sound simple, but a thorough pre and POST flight each and every time needs to be done no matter if you are a student in a Cessna 172 or a Large Cabin jet pilot. In addition, this is an easily fixed problem but in some cases finding an issue a day or two before can mean the difference between fixing the issue and still departing for that all important trip or having to cancel because you didn’t catch it until the last minute or worse yet finding out you have a problem in the air.

The conclusion is to check your airplane and check it often. There are few better feelings than to know that you have completed a thorough and safe preflight check of your airplane. Your life depends on it.

Im sure a few pilots out there have found some interesting items during their preflight. We would love to see your pictures/captions. Please submit below!