We’re here at EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2017!

We’re here! Come find us at our booth (2075-2079) in Hangar B, showcasing our current line of training products and pilot supplies along with some new products. Come say hello and get your flight training questions answered by ASA staff.


On Monday, July 24th (tonight!), ASA will be hosting the Collegiate Tailgate Party in Aviation Gateway Park from 5:00-6:30 PM. We had a great time hanging out last year and are looking forward to doing it again. There will be food, music, games, and prizes, so come on out and join us!


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CFI Brief: Part 107 sUAS Operating Limitations

If you plan on operating an sUAS under 14 CFR Part 107, make sure you fully understand your operating limitations.

Operating Limitations

The sUAS must be operated in accordance with the following limitations:

• Cannot be flown faster than a ground speed of 87 knots (100 miles per hour).

• Cannot be flown higher than 400 feet above ground level (AGL) unless flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure and not flown higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit. See Figure 1-1.


Figure 1-1. Flying near a tower

Crewmembers must operate within the following limitations:

• Minimum visibility, as observed from the location of the control station, must be no less than 3 statute miles.

• Minimum distance from clouds must be no less than 500 feet below a cloud and 2,000 feet horizontally from the cloud.

Note: These operating limitations are intended, among other things, to support the remote pilot’s ability to identify hazardous conditions relating to encroaching aircraft or persons on the ground, and to take the appropriate actions to maintain safety.

Below is the regulation outlined in 14 CFR Part 107.51

§107.51   Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.

A remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small unmanned aircraft system must comply with all of the following operating limitations when operating a small unmanned aircraft system:

(a) The groundspeed of the small unmanned aircraft may not exceed 87 knots (100 miles per hour).

(b) The altitude of the small unmanned aircraft cannot be higher than 400 feet above ground level, unless the small unmanned aircraft:

(1) Is flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure; and

(2) Does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit.

(c) The minimum flight visibility, as observed from the location of the control station must be no less than 3 statute miles. For purposes of this section, flight visibility means the average slant distance from the control station at which prominent unlighted objects may be seen and identified by day and prominent lighted objects may be seen and identified by night.

(d) The minimum distance of the small unmanned aircraft from clouds must be no less than:

(1) 500 feet below the cloud; and

(2) 2,000 feet horizontally from the cloud.


You can find all the sUAS Part 107 regulations in this years 2018 FAR|AIM available NOW!

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Procedures and Airport Operations: Crosswind Takeoff

Since The Pilot’s Manual: Flight School (PM-1C) is now available in eBook format (from ASA and iTunes), this week we’ll feature another maneuver from the textbook. The fifth edition of Flight School covers everything you need to know in order to fly your airplane through the maneuvers required for certification.

Not all airports have a runway that faces upwind on a given day. For this reason, takeoffs and landings on runways where there is a crosswind component are frequent events. Every airplane type (from the smallest trainer up to the Airbus A340 and Boeing 747) has a maximum crosswind component specified in the flight manual and pilot’s operating handbook. If the actual crosswind component on the runway exceeds the limit for the airplane or what you feel is your own personal limit, then use a different runway (which may even mean proceeding to a different airport).

Takeoff Run
A crosswind blowing under the upwind wing will tend to lift it. Counteract this effect and keep the wings level with aileron; that is, move the control column upwind. While full deflection might be required early in the takeoff run, this can be reduced as the faster airflow increases control effectiveness. You do not have to consciously think of aileron movement; just concentrate on keeping the wings level.

A right crosswind, for example, requires right control column and left rudder (crossed controls). A glance at the wind sock before you open the throttle for the takeoff run will allow you to anticipate this and position the controls correctly.

As speed increases, the amount of aileron and rudder required will reduce until, at liftoff, there will probably be some rudder still applied, but little or no aileron. There is no need to consciously think about this; just:

  • keep straight with rudder; and
  • keep the wings level with the ailerons.

Allow the aircraft to accelerate. Use as much rudder as necessary but avoid braking. In a crosswind takeoff, hold the airplane on the ground during the ground run (with slight forward pressure on the control column) and then lift off cleanly and positively. It may be advisable to delay liftoff until 5 knots or so past the normal rotation speed to achieve a clean (no skip) liftoff.

Drift After Takeoff
As the airplane enters the air mass after liftoff, it will tend to move sideways with it. Any tendency to sink back onto the ground should be resisted to avoid the strong sideways forces that would occur on the landing gear.

Once well clear of the ground, the aircraft will naturally yaw upwind (weathervane) to counteract the drift. Keep the wings level. Any remaining crossed controls are removed once airborne by centralizing the balance ball and keeping the wings level. Climb out normally on the extended centerline of the runway.


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CFI Brief: Can you be a pilot with Diabetes?

Today we are featuring a guest editorial column by  

In this article we will explore whether or not you can become a pilot if you have diabetes. We will look at piloting for a commercial airline with diabetes and piloting for a private company with diabetes. We will also look at other jobs centered on aviation, such as being a flight instructor, or flying gliders and other small aircraft.

We will look at whether or not you can pilot an aircraft if you have Type 1Type 2, or pre-diabetes. We will look at whether or not it matters if you are taking insulin, other injections for diabetes, oral medications, or are diet and exercise controlled.

We have already been looking at some promising careers that we can have with diabetes that is well-controlled.

We have looked at being a long-distance truck driver, an EMS/Paramedic, a Firefighter, an air traffic controller, and a law enforcement officer. We have looked at whether or not you can be in the military with diabetes. Now we take on the most difficult career to date.

*Becoming a commercial airline pilot with diabetes requiring insulin is prohibited by a blanket ban in the United States. It is one of 15 conditions that can disqualify you when you go for your medical certificate with the FAA.

So what’s up? Let’s look…

You can read the article in it’s entirety by clicking on the image below.

Pilot Diabetes

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Aircraft Systems: Types of Electricity

Today, we’re featuring an excerpt from our new textbook Practical Electricity for Aviation Maintenance Technicians. As you can tell from the title, this book is geared for new AMT candidates, but it does feature a wealth of information on aircraft electrical systems useful to anyone flying or fixing airplanes.

There are two basic types of electricity: static and current. In static electricity, electrons accumulate on a surface and remain here until they build up a pressure high enough to force their way to another surface or device which has fewer electrons. Static electricity is generally a bother, and steps must be taken to prevent its formation and/or to get rid of it.

Current electricity, on the other hand, is the type most often used. There are two types of current electricity, Direct Current (DC), in which the electrons always flow in the same direction, and Alternating Current (AC), in which the electrons periodically reverse their direction of flow.

Static Electricity
When you slide across the plastic seat covers of an automobile, the friction between your clothing and the seat covers causes your clothes to pick up an excess of electrons from the seat. This is exactly the same thing described earlier when a piece of amber was rubbed with sheep’s wool.

If there is no conductor between your body and the car to make a path for these electrons to leak off, your body holds the extra electrons and is said to be charged because there is an electrically unbalanced condition between it and the car. But as soon as you touch or even come close to a bare metal part of the car, the extra electrons leave and jump to the metal in the form of a spark. This accumulation and holding of electrical charges is called static electricity.

Lightning is just a big spark. Friction of the air moving up and down inside the clouds causes water droplets in the clouds to become charged, and when enough electrons have concentrated in a cloud, the electrical pressure they produce forces them to move through the air. These electrons jump between clouds having different charges or from a cloud to the ground. This is the gigantic spark we call lightning.

As mentioned earlier, an object with an excess of electrons is negatively charged, and an object which has lost its electrons and wants to get them back is positively charged. Two positively charged or two negatively charged objects repel each other, while objects having opposite charges attract. When oppositely charged objects touch, the extra electrons travel from the negative object to the one with the positive charge and they become discharged, or electrically neutral. While static electricity has some uses, it is most often thought of as a nuisance. So a path must be provided to allow the electrons to pass harmlessly from one charged object to another before the charges can build up enough pressure to cause a spark to jump.

In addition to producing a mild shock when you touch the metal part of your car, static electricity can cause radio interference and can damage sensitive electronic components. It is possible, on a dry day, that just taking a few steps on a nylon carpet can build up more than 10,000 volts of static electricity on your body. When you have accumulated this much charge and touch some electronic components, they can be destroyed. When working with sensitive electronic equipment, always wear a grounded wrist strap to bleed off any charge on your body before handling the equipment.

Many airplanes have static discharge points or wicks installed on the trailing edges of the control surfaces. These devices allow the static charges that build up on the control surfaces as air flows over them to discharge harmlessly into the air and not cause static interference in the radio equipment.

Static discharge points are installed on the trailing edge of control surfaces to bleed off the static charges that build up as air flows over the surfaces.

Static discharge points are installed on the trailing edge of control surfaces to bleed off the static charges that build up as air flows over the surfaces.

Static electricity causes a serious fire hazard when aircraft are being fueled or defueled. The flow of gasoline or turbine fuel in the hose produces enough static electricity to cause a spark to jump and ignite explosive fumes.

Current Electricity
Current electricity is the form of electricity that has the most practical applications. A source of electrical energy such as a battery or alternator acts as a pump that forces electrons to flow through conductors. In this study of practical electricity, this flow is called current and because we are considering it to flow from positive to negative, it is positive current.

Aircraft must be electrically grounded before they are fueled. Bonding wires connect the aircraft and the fueling truck or pit together, and both of them are connected to the earth ground so that static charges that build up during fueling can pass harmlessly to ground.

Aircraft must be electrically grounded before they are fueled. Bonding wires connect the aircraft and the fueling truck or pit together, and both of them are connected to the earth ground so that static charges that build up during fueling can pass harmlessly to ground.

For current to flow, there must be a complete path from one terminal of the source back to the other terminal. The figure below shows a complete electrical circuit. The battery is the component in which chemical energy is changed into electrical energy, and current is forced out of the positive terminal, through the switch, the control device, to the lamp. The lamp acts as the load, which changes electrical energy into heat and light. The current then returns to the negative terminal of the battery. Current flows as long as the switch is closed, forming a complete path.

The electrical pressure that forces current through the circuit is measured in volts, with the basic unit of electrical pressure being one volt. Electrical current is measured in amperes or, as we more commonly call it, in amps. One amp is the flow of one coulomb per second, and one coulomb is 6.28 billion billion (6.28 x 1018) electrons. All conductors have some resistance which opposes the flow of electrons in much the same way that friction opposes mechanical movement. The basic unit of electrical resistance is the ohm. One volt of electrical pressure will force 1 amp of current to flow through 1 ohm of resistance.

This is a complete electrical circuit. When the switch is closed, current flows from the positive terminal of the battery through the lamp, where there is enough opposition that the filament gets white hot. After all of the pressure from the battery is dissipated by the lamp, the current returns to the negative terminal of the battery.

This is a complete electrical circuit. When the switch is closed, current flows from the positive terminal of the battery through the lamp, where there is enough opposition that the filament gets white hot. After all of the pressure from the battery is dissipated by the lamp, the current returns to the negative terminal of the battery.

When current flows through a resistor, power is dissipated and voltage is dropped. The voltage across a resistor can be measured with a voltmeter in the same way as the voltage produced by a battery. This voltage is caused by current (I) flowing through the resistor (R), and it is called an IR drop, or a voltage drop. The end of the resistor where the positive current enters is the positive end, and the end where it leaves is the negative end.

A battery is a source of electrical pressure that is also called an EMF, electromotive force, potential, or potential difference. All are measured in volts, and all mean essentially the same thing.

A battery is a source of electrical pressure that is also called an EMF, electromotive force, potential, or potential difference. All are measured in volts, and all mean essentially the same thing.

When current flows through a resistance, power is used, or dissipated, and voltage is dropped. The voltage dropped across a resistor can be measured with a voltmeter in the same way as the voltage produced across the terminals of a battery.

Electrical pressure caused by changing some other form of energy into electrical energy may be called an electromotive force (EMF) a potential difference, or just a potential. Electrical pressure caused by current flowing through a resistance is not a source of electrical energy; it is a drop in the electrical pressure. This voltage is usually called a voltage drop or an IR drop because the amount of drop may be found by multiplying the current (I) by the resistance (R) through which it flows. These terms for voltage are often used interchangeably, and all of them use the volt as the basic unit of measurement.

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CFI Brief: Fireworks, Drones and Airplanes Don’t Mix

The ASA offices will be closed July 3rd and 4th for Independence Day. Happy 4th of July!

Now for a public service announcement from the FAA!

June 30– As people travel, purchase fireworks and fly drones over the Independence Day holiday, the FAA reminds them to know and follow the aviation safety rules.

Here are general guidelines for people flying drones:

  • Don’t fly your drone in or near fireworks
  • Don’t fly over people
  • Don’t fly near airports

To learn more about what you can and can’t do with your drone go to or download the B4UFLY app for free in the Apple and Google Play store. Also, check out the FAA’s July 4th No Drone Zone PSA video.
There are also strict rules prohibiting airline passengers from packing or carrying fireworks on domestic or international flights. Remember these simple rules:

  • Don’t pack fireworks in your carry-on bags
  • Don’t pack fireworks in your checked luggage
  • Don’t send fireworks through the mail or parcel services

Passengers violating the rules can face fines or criminal prosecution. When in Doubt…Leave it out!

For more information on the passenger rules for fireworks and other hazardous materials, please go to  Leave the fireworks at home–Fireworks Don’t Fly (PDF) (Poster)

As FAA works to ensure that passengers arrive at their destinations safely, it is important that you follow the rules while enjoying your drones as well as celebrating the July 4th holiday.

FAA 123

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CFI Brief: Significant Weather (SIGWX) Forecast Charts

The updated Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement for Instrument Rating (FAA-CT-8080-3F) has replaced 4 panel Low Level SIGWX Prognostic charts with updated 2 panel charts. These new figures as seen below show outlooks for both 12  and 24 hour forecast periods, with the left display being 12 hours and right 24 hours. The High Level SIGWX Prognostic chart has been updated as well with a much clearer chart. The following study information and sample test questions will help to prepare you for answering questions relating to these updated charts.

The Low-Level Significant Weather Prognostic Chart (FL240 and below) portrays forecast weather hazards that may influence flight planning, including those areas or activities of most significant turbulence and icing. It is a two-panel display representing a 12-hour forecast interval (left) and 24-hour forecast interval (right). Turbulence intensities are identified by standard symbols as shown in the figure below. The vertical extent of turbulence layers is depicted by top and base heights separated by a slant and shown in hundreds of feet MSL (180/100 = 18,000’ MSL to 10,000’ MSL). Freezing levels above the surface will correspond with a given altitude in hundreds of feet MSL (080 = 8,000’ MSL). Low-level SIGWX charts are issued four times daily, and valid time, date, and chart type are depicted in the lower left corner of each panel.

The High-Level Significant Weather Prognostic Chart (FL250 to FL630) outlines areas of forecast turbulence and cumulonimbus clouds, shows the expected height of the tropopause, and predicts jet stream location and velocity. The chart depicts clouds and turbulence as shown in the figure below.


Cumulonimbus cloud (CB) areas are enclosed by a red scalloped line. The height of the tropopause is shown in hundreds of feet MSL and enclosed in a rectangular box; centers of high (H) and low (L) heights are enclosed in polygons. Areas of turbulence are enclosed in yellow dashed lines and labeled with the appropriate severity symbol and top and base altitudes. A jet stream axis containing a wind speed of 80 knots or greater is identified by a bold green line and directional arrowhead. A standard wind symbol is placed on the jet stream to identify velocity and an associated flight level is placed adjacent to it. An omission of a base altitude (XXX) identifies that the weather phenomena exceeds the lower limit of the high-level SIGWX prog chart (FL250).

1. (Refer to Figure 18.) The right panel of the significant weather prognostic chart provides a forecast of selected aviation weather hazards up to FL240 until what time?
A—March 18th at 0600.
B—March 17th at 1800.
C—March 18th at 1800.

2. (Refer to Figure 19.) The next issuance of the 12-hour significant weather prognostic chart will become valid at

3. (Refer to Figure 20.) What is the height of the tropopause over the northwest United States?
A—45,000 feet MSL.
B—45,000 meters.
C—450,000 feet MSL.

Answers posted in the comments section. 

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CFI Brief: June 2017 Test Roll

June has been a busy month here at ASA headquarters and for the FAA. Let’s recap what all is going down in terms of Airman Testing.

The FAA has released updated Airman Certification Standards for both Private Pilot Airplane (FAA-S-ACS-6A) and Instrument Pilot Airplane (FAA-S-ACS-8A) effective June 2017. Additionally, the Commercial Pilot Airplane ACS was released, replacing the Practical Test Standards (8081-12). These are now available for purchase through the ASA website and can be found following the two links below, out with the old in with the new!

Private Pilot Airplane (ACS-6A)
Instrument Pilot Airplane (ACS-8A)
Commercial Pilot Airplane (ACS-7)


Getting ready to take the Instrument Knowledge Exam? Be aware the FAA has released the new Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement for Instrument Rating (FAA-CT-8080-3F) now in effect at all testing centers. This supplement includes several new and updated figures and is available for purchase through the ASA website. This new supplement will be included in the 2018 Instrument Pilot Test Prep books and Prepware software and apps, available late July.

Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement for Instrument Pilot (FAA-CT-8080-3F)


In terms of the Airman Knowledge Exams, the FAA is reporting no substantial changes with respect to topics covered in pilot certificate/rating test banks for this June test roll cycle. We are getting a lot of calls asking if the FAA has begun testing on the new BasicMed rules and the answer is no. The FAA expects to develop test questions on the new BasicMed regulation in the future. Third-Class Medical questions will remain, since BasicMed is an addition to the medical certification structure, not a replacement of the Third-Class Medical Certificate.

The following topics have been removed from FAA Knowledge Tests (effective June 12, 2017):

  • 4-panel prog charts
  • Weather depiction chart
  • Area forecasts
  • Aerobatic flight

June 2017 ASA Test Prep Question Updates are now available! Check the link below.



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CFI Brief: 5 Major Items Pilots Miss During Their Preflight Inspection – InfoGraphic

Today on the Learn to Fly Blog we are featuring a guest article by Alec Larson of Sun State Aviation. Thanks for the excellent article, Alec, and for all the hard work that went into producing this this!

Perhaps the most critical part of any general aviation flight is the preflight inspection of the aircraft. For most pilots, the preflight inspection follows a checklist along with a routine flow around the aircraft. Most pilots and student pilots perform what would be considered a sufficient inspection, following their checklist and routine items.

Surely 100% of pilots would be able to find discrepancies if they were present right?

Sunstate 1

Well………not exactly. Sit down, strap yourself in and get ready to read some interesting real-life statistics!

Every year at the Sun N Fun airshow the FAA partners with a local flight school to host the Project Preflight event. The purpose of the event is to test the preflight efficiency of pilots and student pilots of all ages, hours and experience. A flight school volunteers one of their airplanes for the event.

Participants are invited to preflight the aircraft like they would before any other flight – checking the fuel, oil, tire pressure and anything with blue tape is unnecessary. The catch is, the aircraft has several intentional discrepancies, some are major squawks! This year we hosted the event and gathered the data from 144 total participants.

Here are the results………

Water Bottle Lodged Behind Rudder Pedals – Out of 144 participants only 30% found this major discrepancy.

Cotter Pin Missing In Right WheelOnly 28% found this one!

Elevator Nut Missing – 39% found the nut to missing from the right side of the elevator.

Rag Behind The Alternator – Easy to spot but only 63% of participants found the rag!

Cotter Pin In Control Lock – Only 42% found a small cotter pin in place of the control lock, hard to miss but deadly if left in.

Sunstate 2

Interesting right?! The statistics are concerning to say the least, but what a great insight into a previously unknown sector of general aviation that can be used to educate pilots and future pilots.

So how can we improve these statistics?

Yes, of course we can say “pilots need to be more thorough in their inspections” or “we need to apply more focus and attention to detail during a preflight” but what are some other realistic strategies we can implement to actually achieve that?! Here’s one – maybe it’s extreme and definitely hypothetical but it’s worth pondering.

“Try to preflight the airplane as if you had just built it part by part, or just finished working on it yourself”. 

Again, hypothetical but let’s break it down. We need pilots to perform thorough inspections, how can you put yourself in that “attentive” frame of mind? If you’ve ever rotated the tires on your vehicle yourself, isn’t it likely that you’ll double check and triple check the tightness of the lug nuts before you call it a job done? The theory is that you’ll be taking more responsibility for the state of the aircraft rather than assuming the mechanic or previous pilot left the aircraft in an airworthy condition. This doesn’t mean you should become an aircraft mechanic or add an hour to your preflight, the goal is to find a way to improve our attention and focus when preflighting an airplane.

Project Preflight was certainly educational and we had an absolute blast hosting the event. On behalf of SunState Aviation we would like to thank all of the 144 participants for stopping by and giving us your time, without you this educational piece and the safety of future pilots would not be a reality!

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Ground School: Preflight Inspection

The success of a flight depends largely on thorough preparation. In the course of your training, a pattern of regular preflight actions should be developed to ensure that this is the case. This includes planning the flight, and checking the airplane. These preflight actions must be based on the checks found in the pilot’s operating handbook (POH), manufacturer’s information manual or the FAA-approved airplane flight manual (AFM) for your airplane. Today we’ll share an excerpt from The Pilot’s Manual: Flight School (PM-1C) regarding the preflight inspection of your airplane.

Preparing the Airplane
The information manual for your airplane will contain a list of items that must be checked during:

  • the preflight inspection (external and internal);
  • the preflight cockpit checks;
  • the engine power check; and
  • the before-takeoff check.

At first, these checks may seem long and complicated, but as you repeat them thoroughly prior to each flight, a pattern will soon form. It is vital that the checks are carried out thoroughly, systematically and strictly in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended procedure. Use of written checklists, if performed correctly, will ensure that no vital item has been missed, but some pilots prefer to memorize checks. The comments that follow are only general comments that will apply to most airplanes.

The External Inspection
Always perform a thorough external inspection. This can begin as you walk up to the airplane and should include:

  • the position of the airplane being safe for start-up and taxi (note also the wind direction and the likely path to the takeoff point); and
  • the availability of fire extinguishers and emergency equipment in case of fire on start-up (a rare event, but it does happen).

Some of the vital items are:

  • all switches off (master switch for electronics, magneto switch for engine) as a protection against the engine inadvertently starting when the propeller is moved;
  • fuel check for quantity and quality (drain into a clear cup);
  • oil check; and
  • structural check.

A list of typical walkaround items is shown below. Each item must be inspected individually, but do not neglect a general overview of the airplane. Be vigilant for things such as buckling of the fuselage skin or popped rivets since these could indicate internal structural damage from a previous flight. Leaking oil, fuel forming puddles on the ground, or hydraulic fluid leaks from around the brake lines also deserve further investigation. With experience, you will develop a feel for what looks right and what does not. The walkaround inspection starts at the cockpit door and follows the pattern specified in the checklist provided by the aircraft manufacturer.

  • Parking brake on.
  • Magneto switches off.
  • Landing gear lever (if retractable) locked down.
  • Control locks removed.
  • Master switch on (to supply electrical power).
  • Fuel quantity gauges checked for sufficient fuel for the planned flight.
  • Fuel selector valves on.
  • Flaps checked for operation; leave them extended for external inspection.
  • Stall warning (if electrical) checked for proper operation.
  • Rotating beacon (and other lights) checked, then off.
  • Master switch off.
  • Primary flight controls checked for proper operation.
  • Required documents on board: MAROW plus airman certificate and medical certificate for the pilot. (Note: under some circumstances a medical certificate may not be required.)
  • Cabin door securely attached, and latches working correctly.
  • Windshield clean (use correct cloth and cleanser).


  • All surfaces, the wing tip, leading and trailing edge checked for no damage or contamination; remove any frost, snow, ice or insects (on upper leading edge especially, since contamination here can significantly reduce lift, even to the point where the airplane may not become airborne).
  • Wing tip position light checked for no damage.
  • Flaps firmly in position and actuating mechanism firmly connected and safety-wired.
  • Aileron locks removed, hinges checked, correct movement (one up, the other down) and linkages safety-wired, mass balance weight secure.
  • Pitot tube cover removed and no damage or obstructions to tube (otherwise airspeed indicator will not respond).
  • Fuel contents checked in tanks and matching fuel quantity gauge indications; fuel caps replaced firmly and with a good seal (to avoid fuel siphoning away in flight into the low-pressure area above the wing).
  • Fuel sample drained from wing tanks and from fuel strainer into a clear container. Check for correct color (blue for 100LL, green for 100-octane), correct fuel grade, correct smell (aviation gasoline and not jet fuel or kerosene), no water (being denser, water sinks to bottom), sediment, dirt or other contaminant (condensation may occur in the tanks overnight causing water to collect in the bottom of the tanks, or the fuel taken on board may be contaminated).
  • Fuel port, or fuel vent (which may be separate or incorporated into the fuel cap) clear (to allow pressure equalization inside and outside the tanks when fuel is used or altitude is changed, otherwise the fuel tanks could collapse or fuel supply to the engine could stop as fuel is used).
  • Stall warning checked (if possible).
  • Inspection plates in place.
  • Wing strut checked secure at both ends.


  • All surfaces, including underneath checked for skin damage, corrosion, buckling or other damage (corrosion appears as surface pitting and etching, often with a gray powdery deposit); advise a mechanic if you suspect any of these.
  • No fuel, oil or hydraulic fluid leaking onto the ground beneath the aircraft.
  • Inspection plates in place.
  • Static ports (also called static vents)—no obstructions (needed for correct operation of airspeed indicator, altimeter and vertical speed indicator).
  • Antennas checked for security and no loose wires.
  • Baggage lockers—check baggage, cargo and equipment secure, and baggage compartments locked.

Main Landing Gear

  • Tires checked for wear, cuts, condition of tread, proper inflation, and security of wheel and brake disk.
  • Wheel oleo strut checked for damage, proper inflation, and cleanliness.
  • Hydraulic lines to brakes checked for damage, leaks and attachment.
  • Gear attachment to the fuselage—check attachment, and be sure there is no damage to the fuselage (buckling of skin, popped rivets).

Nose Section

  • Fuselage checked for skin buckling or popped rivets.
  • Windshield clean.
  • Propeller checked for damage, especially nicks along its leading edge, cracks and security (and for leaks in the hub area if it is a constantspeed propeller).
  • Propeller spinner checked for damage, cracks and security.
  • Engine air intake and filter checked for damage and cleanliness (no bird nests or oily rags).
  • Nose wheel tire checked for wear, cuts, condition of tread, proper inflation, and security of nose wheel.
  • Nose wheel oleo strut checked for damage, proper inflation (four to six inches is typical), security of shimmy damper and other mechanisms.
  • Open engine inspection panel; check engine mounts, engine, and exhaust manifold for cracks and security (to ensure that no lethal carbon monoxide in the exhaust gases can enter the cockpit—exhaust leaks may be indicated by white stains near the cylinder head, the exhaust shroud or exhaust pipes).
  • Check battery, wiring and electrical cables for security (firmly attached at both ends).
  • Check the oil level; top up if necessary (know the correct type and grade of oil to order); ensure that the dipstick is replaced properly and the oil cap is firmly closed to avoid loss of oil in flight.
  • Close the inspection panel and check its security.

Other Side of Airplane
Repeat as appropriate.


  • Remove control locks if fitted.
  • All surfaces checked for skin damage (vertical stabilizer and rudder, horizontal stabilizer, elevator and trim tab); remove any contamination such as ice, frost or snow.
  • Control surface hinges checked for cracks, firmness of attachment, safety-wiring and correct movement.

Chocks and Tiedown Ropes
Chocks and tiedowns removed and stowed (after checking the parking brake is on).

Overall View
Stand back and check the overall appearance of the airplane. It cannot be emphasized too greatly just how important this preflight inspection by the pilot is. Even if you have no experience in mechanical things, you must train yourself to look at the airplane and notice things that do not seem right. Bring any items that you are unsure of to the attention of your flight instructor or a mechanic. At this stage, you are now ready to seat yourself in the airplane and begin the internal cockpit inspection.

The Cockpit Inspection
Always perform a thorough cockpit inspection. The cockpit inspection involves preparing the cockpit and your personal equipment for flight. It should include:

  • Parking brake set (on).
  • Required documents on board (MAROW items).
  • Flight equipment organized and arranged in an efficient manner so they are readily available in flight (flight bag, charts prefolded to show your route, computer, pencils, flashlight, and so on).
  • Fuel on.
  • Seat position and harness comfortable and secure, with the seat definitely locked in position and rudder pedals (if adjustable) adjusted and locked into position so that full movement is possible.
  • Ignition switch (magnetos) off (so that the engine is not live).
  • Master switch on (for electrical services such as fuel gauges).
  • Flight controls checked for full and free movement (elevator, ailerons, rudder and trim wheel or handle). Trim set to takeoff position.
  • Engine controls checked for full and free movement (throttle, mixture control and carburetor heat).
  • Scan the instruments systematically from one side of the panel to the other for serviceability and correct readings.
  • No circuit breakers should be popped nor fuses blown (for electrical services to operate).
  • Microphone and/or headsets plugged in (if you are to use the radio) and test intercom if used.
  • Safety equipment (fire extinguisher, first aid kit, supplemental oxygen if planning to fly high, flotation equipment for overwater flights) on board and securely stowed.
  • Loose articles stowed.
  • Checklists on board and available.
  • Read the preflight checklist, if appropriate.

Normal checklists are found in Section 4 of the typical pilot’s operating handbook, and emergency checklists are found in Section 3. Written checklists are used to confirm that appropriate procedures have been carried out, for example, the before-takeoff checklist or the engine fire checklist. In earlier days, when airplanes were simpler, checks were usually memorized. Nowadays, in more complex airplanes and in a much busier operating environment, many checks are performed with the use of standard written checklists for that airplane. Checklists are usually compiled in a concise and abbreviated form as item and condition (for example, fuel—on), where the item to be checked is listed, followed by a statement of its desired condition. Explanations for actions are usually not included in the concise checklist, but may generally be found in the pilot’s operating handbook if required.

Vital checklists are best committed to memory so that they may be done quickly and efficiently, followed by confirmation using the printed checklist if required. Emergency checklists, such as the engine fire checklist, often have some items that should be memorized, since they may have to be actioned immediately, before there is time to locate the appropriate checklist and read it. These items are often referred to as memory items or phase-one items, and are often distinguished on checklists by bold type or by being surrounded with a box. The method of using checklists may be one of:

  • carrying out the items as the checklist is read; or
  • carrying out the items in full, followed by confirmation using the checklist.

Be sure to check back Thursday for more on preflight from our CFI as well as something interesting from SunState Aviation!

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