Ah, it was a fine autumn afternoon. Lots of sunshine and a slight easterly breeze right down the runway.
The student pilot, fresh from his first solo, was eager to tryout his fledgling skills of working the pattern. His instructor told him to work on eight to ten full stop landings, returning to the takeoff area each time. Upon approaching his mighty steed for the day, he started his visual pre-flight from afar. Once reaching the Cessna 152 (steed!) he recovered the pre-flight pamphlet and dutifully completed the exterior excursion around the aircraft.
With a controlled excitement, he climbed aboard, buckled up and began the pre-start procedures. Satisfied that all was well, a twist of the key and the roar of that mighty engine sent him off to the taxiway and the start of an exciting afternoon.
The run-up was normal so time to engage the tower and let them know that he was a student pilot and was going to be in the pattern for eight to ten full stops. He didn’t hear the slight groan from the tower but was glad to hear he was cleared for takeoff. Following the takeoff procedures in the aircraft owner’s manual (abridged version) the takeoff was uneventful but still exciting. Do you start to sense a common thread with this student? After about five or six takeoff and landings he was feeling comfortable and confident with the day’s activities. The wind was starting to pick up and he did have student limitations as far as the wind was concerned.
Back at the run-up area, it was time to get’er done! Full throttle and away we go, or so he thought.
His mighty steed began to buck and wallow around as if it was on a diet of locoweed. The comfort and confidence vacated to the baggage area while the yoke and throttle was worked all sorts of ways to bring the bronco back to earth in one piece. After a couple of bounces and an “Oh my God”, control was restored while in his headset a stern voice asked “Are you going to abort that takeoff”!
A squeaky “Yes sir” emitted somewhere out on the runway. Returning quickly to the school’s hanger he was met by his still white-faced instructor.
“What happened out there” he asked.
“I, I, I don’t know” came the stammered answer.
“I’ll tell you what happened young man,” the instructor sternly said. “You forgot to read and follow the written pre-takeoff checklist before you went out on the runway.”
“You have to do that every time or sooner or later you will forget something like retracting the full flaps you left down after your last ‘good’ landing.”
A red face and hung head was all the instructor got for an answer.
It can happen my friends. We can all get complacent in what we do sometimes. Reading and following the checklists every time is crucial.
Let’s face it, some of us are getting up there in age and well, I’m just saying!!