Whether you’re a new pilot or have years of experience flying, you share something important in common - all pilots are human and can make mistakes. Maybe you’re so new to flying that you're unaware of the potential dangers around you. Or, you’re letting your guard down when you shouldn’t. What’s important to remember is that mistakes don’t necessarily only happen in-flight. The fact is, a lot of mistakes happen up in the air due to poor planning on the ground. With that in mind, the key to avoiding mistakes is to recognize potentially hazardous situations ahead of time with pre-flight planning.
Here are 4 of the most common mistakes pilots make before taking off.
From fog to strong wind, icing, turbulence, thunderstorms and a host of other meteorological hazards, weather can change rapidly. Not paying attention to any of these conditions can lead to major trouble. Here’s what you can do to avoid problems :
Get a full weather briefing before every flight
Check weather conditions at your departure airport, en-route and at your destination airport
Double-check runway conditions to be sure they are suitable for both the departure and destination airports
Don’t be overconfident and think you can casually fly into adverse weather
Contrary to popular belief, fuel mismanagement happens a lot more than you might think. If a full tank can barely get you to the destination, don’t try to push it. Play it safe and make that extra half-hour stop on your way to your destination to refuel. And, make sure you calculate the right amount of fuel needed for the time you’ll spend in the air - and not the distance to your destination.
Always take the time needed to conduct a thorough inspection. Use a walk-around checklist and be sure to double-check fuel and oil. And don’t forget to put the cap back on the fuel tank. It happens. Finally, if anything seems suspicious or unsure, talk with a mechanic and get a second opinion.
Pilots can often feel pressured to fly. If you feel unsafe or simply don’t want take off, don’t go. As the saying goes: It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the sky than to be in the sky wishing you were on the ground.
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