Why and how I changed my orientation to the pre-takeoff aviation mnemonics and checklists! Custom pre-takeoff Blow you’ll find some of my aviation mnemonics to make your cockpit-fu match the cool vibe in your aviator shades.

Some years back. . .after I had been flying for a while, I became increasingly frustrated with the stodgy way in which I oriented to the checklist. I was committed to using it, but I felt like something was missing. Here’s what I discovered.

My Checklist Jam is Weird

I flew with different instructors on occasion, nobody ever said anything. . . but I innately felt something was off, or missing. This was confirmed by flying with other pilots who had a great deal more experience than I. These included former military aviators, airline pilots, and the like. They seemed to orient to the checklist much more gracefully. But I wasn’t sure what the difference was. . .  

Pilot experience level is all over the map. The student pilot, only familiar to a certain depth about the flying bits, will use a checklist explicitly as a to-do list. That’s appropriate! After gaining some experience, a pilot may want to move away from strict checklist/do-list adherence because it feels — student pilot-ish. So what’s the über capable, aviator shades wearing super-pilot to do?

First a bit of clarifying vocabulary. Checklists are ‘do-lists,’ in that you read the item and do/check that item. A flow pattern is the checking/doing of the items in a logical order by memory, and then referring to the checklist to verify you’ve accomplished each item. Plus, you can incorporate mnemonics with the flows to cover items that might have cause you to divide attention between your printed checklist and looking outside. I’m not going to get into the ‘logical order’ part of flows, because there can be a fair amount of variation between aircraft. Plus, I think it’s a good experience to work through that for your aircraft, as it can be an opportunity to be actively engaged in the process and help you become one with your aircraft. You do meditate with your plane, right? Go hug your plane, NOW. It deserves a hug.

Going through this caused me to employ some common mnemonics and develop others that I thought could fill in some gaps. This is a very small sampling here and my intent is to compile these things things into an easily digestible format which follows the natural life of a flight. At any rate, try these pre-takeoff mnemonics and see if they work for you. Perhaps you’ll find them helpful. At any rate, consider developing your own. The spirit of this is to standardize and add professionalism to our flying. In so doing, I think you’ll find flying is safer, more fun, and ultimately more fulfilling.

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