Sunday, January 15, 2012

6th Flight Lesson: God is in the Details

We decided to fly into 2012. We started the evening of December 31st 2011 at Applebee’s, at the mall near the airport (200 Airport Plaza Farmingdale, NY, 11735), and had a scrumptious meal. The service was excellent and so was the food. Linger of Christmas was in the air, with the festive lights and decorations throughout the restaurant. 

We made it to the airport at around 10pm, Bryan did a thorough preflight (which not only includes checking the airplane, but weather, airspace (like any TFR’s or in the area), risk factors that would make flying unsafe, or external pressures, such as impatient passengers that have "get home-itous”).  It was during the preflight that I learned or I should say remembered a very important lesson. Half way through the preflight Bryan asked me to get some oil in the back seat. I went to retrieve the oil and when I returned a few moments later I noticed that he had started the preflight from the beginning. I had asked why he was starting from the beginning all over again; he said he had lost track of where he was on the check list. So to be safe he started from the beginning.

This reminded me of my training several years back. On one of my early training flights, I went out a head of my CFI (Certified Flight instructor) and started the preflight. When I was pretty much done my instructor asked me to go to the front of the plane and stand back a bit and give the airplane one last look to make sure everything looked okay. Consequently he said I should also always do this same practice on my way out to start my preflight as well. 

I did as I was instructed and took several steps back from the front of the airplane. My instructor then asked if anything looked out of place, I promptly advised that all looked good to me. He gave me one final warning, asking “Are you sure?”

Yes, I said everything looks okay to me. Okay he said let’s get in. Now you probably are not aware, however in the Piper 28 Warrior the door on the pilot side does not open. You have to climb in through the right seat (passenger or CFI side) to get to your seat. So in we climbed, and once we were in our seats, my instructor asked: “Where is your check list?” It was then that I caught a glimpse of it; it was sitting right on the nose of the airplane. 

Agh, I can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner; without delay, my CFI launched into a lengthy lecture on the importance of a thorough preflight.  Since I had assumed all was in place I had completely not seen what was quite plainly right in front of my eyes.  My instructor said to always examine the airplane as if you are expecting to find something wrong.  

Also, if you are distracted during any part of the preflight started over again. While he said the checklist on the nose of the airplane would most likely not cause any problems to the operations of the flight, another type of oversight could have caused a disastrous outcome.