Checklists: If you are not doing them you are doing it wrong. As a pilot, it is our responsibility to be safe. The first thing we can do to ensure safety is to perform all checklists required for every flight. Imagine if your car had checklists as an aircraft does. Could you ever remember a time that maybe something happened that could have possibly been prevented if you had completed a thorough checklist on your car?
Now, there are many philosophies about checklists and how they should be done, the underlining need, etc. That is not what this article is about. I will write my thoughts on that another time.
Early in your flight training get used to using the checklists. They should always be provided with every aircraft at your school. They are always listed in your aircraft POH (Pilot Operating Handbook) or AFM (Airplane Flight Manual). As an example, the Diamond DA20-C1 Flight Manual lists no less than 29 unique checklists for both normal procedures and emergency procedures. Do you have to memorize them all? No, but know where to access them, go through them and most importantly, understand the steps and why the steps are being completed.
Take the time and go through checklists with your instructor and have him or her explain each step and why they are being done. Understanding the “WHY” behind a step will help you memorize them. Take the time to do this. The more work that you put into educating yourself about all this different material that we are required to know, will make your flying more fun. You might think it takes time at first, and yes indeed it does. If you do this work early, then that will translate into less time spent on pre-flight briefings and more flying time.
Your instructor should be leading this by example. Quite frankly, if your instructor is not always giving you the detail about checklists as you do them, then look for another instructor.
And to put it into more simple terms that might make this more clear for you: Go ahead and try and complete your flight test without the use of proper checklists. Let me know if your flight examiner even lets you start the engine. Tell me how you make out. 🙂