Why preparation matters
Proper preparation is key to each successful flight. Especially during initial training the requirements student pilots are facing are high. “Check this”, “check that”, “did you have a look at….?” – if you are a student pilot you might know these questions. Many of future pilots starting with initial training are “overloaded” with things they need to do. Therefore I would like to provide some basic guidance for pre-flight.
- Am I “fit to fly”? – self-assess yourself and check if you are fit-to-fly. You can use this little guidance here.
- Aircraft booking – check if you have a valid reservation for the aircraft you would like to fly (in case you’re not piloting your own). Especially in flying clubs and flight schools there is often a lot of changes (planned/unplanned maintenance, changes of assigned aircraft, etc.).
- Flight planning – prepare for your flights. Important when going for the first navigation flights. Use the flight-log provided by the flight school or your own one. You need to know in which direction you will fly and the assigned altitudes & restrictions. You may also need to file a flight plan, depending on your planning.
- Fuel planning – based on the flight log a correct fuel calculation is important. You (or your flight instructor) will be asked for an evidence in case you are facing a “ramp check“. Moreover, you need to know how much fuel you will need for your performance calculation.
- Weight & balance / performance – is the weight and balance in every situation during flight within the limits? Many pilots go flying without proper evaluation of their (of course the aircrafts’) weight & balance – wrong (meaning outside the limits) weight & balance can end in an uncontrallable state of the plane. When weight & balance is finished you can go for the performance calculation (esp. take-off performance, climb performance).
- Weather briefing – you should check if the weather (current -> METAR and future -> TAF) for the airport of departure, arrival and alternate as well as the weather on your flight path is feasible for your planned flight.
- NOTAM briefing – NOtice To AirMan, a compulsory briefing that covers deviations (from AIP) for the current airfield(s) and route. Maybe one of your planned airports is closed?! You will receive this information by checking the NOTAMs.
- Aircraft documents – Is the aircraft I am going to use in an airworthy state? How about the insurance? Carefully check the documents (and dates written there) to assess if you are allowed to operate the aircraft.
To help remebering all these bullet points you will find a little checklist below. It is quite a lot of work necessary before you can go for a flight. But proper preparation will save you from struggling once departed……
Preparation (and this means good and correct preparation) not only increases overall safety for you and for the ones remaining on the ground, it also is part of good airmanship – you want to become a pilot, so also take the responsibility that comes along with it!
What might be of interest as well: dangerous attitudes in aviation.
Stay save and enjoy your training – Happy Landings :)!