How Do I Prepare For A Flight?
Step One – Get in the Right Frame of Mind
Lets say I am going to be flying at 6 in the evening. All throughout the day I am thinking about the flight to come, making sure to mentally prepare myself for it, running through the processes and steps of maneuvers I will be performing. Just imagining the flight in general. That way it is not as severe of a jump to go from “work mode” to “flying mode”.
Step Two – Check the Weather
In Oklahoma where I am based, not checking the weather is not an option. The weather can change on a dime here, and you learn early on that forecasts are generally an educated guess at best. Because of that I check the weather multiple times throughout the hours leading up to my flight. I check the weather that morning to get an idea of what it is supposed to be like later. Then I check it again a few hours ahead of wheels up. Then I will check the METAR an hour before, and then I will call 1-800-WXBRIEF right before my pre-flight inspection to get a detailed weather briefing. It is so important to prepare for the unexpected when it comes to weather.
Step Three – Pre-Flight Inspection (Airplane)
This should almost go without saying, but a thorough pre-flight inspection happens every time. Remember, this is your opportunity to find anything wrong. Once you leave the ground there is nowhere to pull over and pop the hood. Your pre-flight inspection is the time when you go over the airplane in detail and ensure that it is up to code and safe. And just because an inspection had been done recently does not give you the excuse to not do another one. Things change, often quickly and without warning. Be on the lookout. Ask yourself, would you feel safe bringing your family with you in the airplane?
Step Four – Pre-Flight Inspection (You)
This is your opportunity to make sure that you personally have everything you need for your flight: all charts, headsets, computers, etc. Whatever you will be needing for this particular flight, this is your last chance to make sure you have what you need. Better to realize you forgot something while you are still on the ground rather than up in the air. It is also one last chance to make sure that you are personally still up to code. Just because you felt fine before leaving for the airport, how do you feel now? Can you still pass the IMSAFE checklist?
Step Five – Get in the Right Frame of Mind (Again)
This is where I take just a moment to breathe, clear my mind, and focus. Even though I have been trying to get in the right frame of mind for the flight leading up to this, things have begun to muddle that clarity. Checking the weather, checking the airplane, addressing any potential issues found in the pre-flight, etc., are all things that will be distracting your focus from where it now needs to be: flying the airplane. Now that all of those things have been addressed and you are confident that they are covered, now is the time to get fully back into flying mode, to get your mind set and prepared to fly the airplane. Breathe. Focus.
Clear your head, and then fill it with the visualization of the flight.
Once I have gone through all these steps, well, there is really nothing else left to do but go have fun! Because that’s what flying is: FUN!
Stay with us for more posts like this. I will be posting again about some more helpful tips that will help you save money while you fly!