Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pilot Checklist: are you Ready to Fly?

Well, it looks like some flying weather may be creeping our way. Yeeaaahh!!!! But let's do some hard thinking before we turn and step off. During a flight that Ike and a few others were able to squeak in this month, Alex/Airboss/BigAl/Coach started something that maybe we should all take into consideration. Ike was getting ready to launch and Coach went to do a pre-flight check on Ike with his permission. Ike passed.

I was next to fly, and Coach said, "Pilot, are you ready to Fly?" I responded, "Yes". While Coach was starting with my leg straps and working his way up to the "Chicken Strap", I noticed my speed bar clips were not done and I made it look like I was just clipping them in before he got to that part of his checklist. Well, the wind has been strong, as you all know, and this was a day that the speed bar probably would come into play. Thanks Coach, I owe you a beer for that one!

This scenario led to an idea from Ike: how about a pre-flight challenge? A pilot on the hill can ask any ready pilot "Are you ready to fly?" With the pilot's permission, the inquiring pilot may perform a quick preflight check. If the inspecting pilot finds an item not done, the flying pilot owes him or her a beer. Pretty cheap price for a safe flight and we have made a challenge out of it just for fun.

How many of us have taken off with any of the following (and I am going to mention names here for everyone to learn -- unfortunately my name is here way too often):

-Leg Straps not secured. Alex. Top landed and I buckled them for him and re-launched. [Editor's note - actually, I noticed the leg straps were undone while kiting up the hill before launching -- I never launched or flew with them undone. On this day anyway. See Scot's video of the day here. And some discussion about my leg straps on pgforum here.]

-Chest Strap. This would not be fun to do in the air but possible. This may affect your ability to weight shift.

-Chicken Strap. Thom. Several times. Not a major safety item but it is part of the list.

-Helmet Strap. Way too many names on this list. Glad I had mine strapped when I tumbled down the hill after spinning my glider. The marks on the back of helmet are still there, but not on my head.

-Reserve Handle Secure. AllanC. Had a deployment off launch. Landed OK.

-Speed Bar Clips. Thom. Too many times and if you ever need speed bar right off of launch this is not going to be a quick fix.

-Carabiners Closed on Risers. Jim. Just wrote up an article on this. Make sure they are closed and the risers are properly in place.

-Brakes Clear. Thom. Launched after several attempts with snags and such. Brakes get dropped, you pick them up and forget to check that they are clear to the pulley. This makes turning after launch a little harder, and causes you to mess with your brakes around the risers while too close to the hill.

-Other Items. Harness Zippers, Boot Laces, Radio Check.

Ok, Good! Now you're ready to inflate the wall for your visual on the wing, lines and obstructions, check your flight path, and if it looks good, fly!!!!!

If your checker finds something not ready and he says you owe a beer, then PAY IT!!! It's a cheap price to pay for a safe flight.

OK, there may be pilots who are going to refuse this action, but that is their choice, and may they fly without incident. For the pilots that choose to have these checks done, you are still the Pilot in Charge. If there is something missed by both pilot and inspector, the pilot is always responsible.

It's Time to Fly, Get Your Gear Ready & GO!!!!


Thom said...

Thanks for your edits Alex.

As always comments welcome and can be added to this little idea.

I will be asking any pilot on the hill if they are ready, and I expect the same from all.

My hopes is that beer will not become more plentiful at the LZ due to this, just enough.

Fly Safe

DaveZ said...

Thom- this is why I love the HPA, and why I read windlines all the time. I know some pilots will be put off by the idea, but I think if done in the right spirit it can only be a positive.

My personal final checklist is a 1 thru 6 item check:
chinstrap, cheststrap, legstraps, closed carabiners, speed bar attached, reserve handle check.

So what's the chickenstrap?

Swan said...

I'm all for this suggestion. Any way to make safety a priority (and fun!) is good in my book. I will happily buy beer for anyone who catches me when I have missed something essential. So far, I have launched with twisted brakes, an unhooked speedbar, and random sticks/vegetation in my lines. Luckily, I have survived unscathed from all of those mishaps. A beer is a reasonable price for catching an error that could potentially be very dangerous.

JK said...

Excellent article. Good idea on the beer check. My pre-flight check isn't any better, just different: R, 1, 2, 3, 4, R, S, T.
R - Reserve
1 - 1 Helmet Chin Strap
2 - 2 Carabiners Secured
3 - 3 Harness Straps (2 leg & 1 chest)
4 - 4 corners on glider clear (includes brake lines)
R - Radio Check
S - Speed Bar Connected and its lines clear clear
T - Turn Direction

I'll have a beer for you anyway!

Fly Safe!

MauiDoug said...

I think Don just coached us all on how to launch, nice one Don!

Brazilian Ray said...

Great idea, and the more coaches the better!!

The chicken strap is the little one above the chest strap, closer to the shoulder (nipples I should say) which I don't use in my gear (it is not a safety issue, but a personal choice for comfort), so I won't be paying beers on that!!!

I think that the hooking in to the glider is a step even more important than the check itself, so FOCUS on what you are doing and don't let others (or things/event) interfere! it is one of the most crucial moments of your (pre) flight!

it is time to fly, get your gear ready and go safe!
Brazilian Ray

Anonymous said...

JK, your checklist is what we teach as USHPA instructors... Learn it, Live it, Just Always Do It!!!

Personally I have no problem with anyone helping me on my checklist at anytime or anywhere.

Fly Hard, Throw High and Often!!!
Jon Malmberg

Matt said...

Love it!

When I was skydiving, jumpers on their way to altitude routinely asked the guy behind them to check their pin (parachute deployment pin). I had a malfunction on a day when I had a question but felt too embarrassed to ask for a gear check. During freefall my pin came unstowed, releasing the main chute into a tangled mess. I rode my reserve down on that one and watched my main land in the ocean.

Yesterday on launch Alex gave me a preflight check and noticed that while the pins were in place, the reserve flap had come unstowed. Thanks Alex! I'd hate to have 2 malfunctions in 2 different sports from the SAME dumb oversight!