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Technique: Time to goTechnique: Time to go

Pretakeoff checklist

A preflight inspection is your best opportunity to verify an airplane’s airworthiness. Once you’ve completed that inspection, you’re still not finished. You’ll taxi your trainer to the runup area and perform a pretakeoff check—your last chance to make sure everything’s functioning and ready to go.
Illustration by Charles Floyd
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Pretakeoff checklists will vary according to make and model, but they all follow a pattern. Here’s one from a Piper Cherokee 140:

Technique Pretakeoff ChecklistFlaps: As required for takeoff
This depends on the type of takeoff you will perform. For most trainers it’s between 0 and 10 degrees.

Technique Pretakeoff ChecklistDoors, windows: Closed/secure
Nobody wants to deal with a door opening in flight. Push on it after it’s closed to check it is secure.

Technique Pretakeoff ChecklistMixture: Rich
High density altitude may require adjustment to this setting.

Technique Pretakeoff ChecklistCarb heat: Off
Allows the engine to produce full power on takeoff.

Technique Pretakeoff ChecklistPrimer: In/Locked
To prevent the primer from working its way out and filling with fuel. An open primer allows excess fuel to get sucked into the engine, and that creates an excessively rich mixture and a loss of engine power. An open primer line also can cause the engine to continue running after you’ve pulled the mixture knob to idle cutoff.

Technique Pretakeoff ChecklistFuel Selector: Proper tank
Left or right, whicheveris fuller.

Technique Pretakeoff Checklist
Heading and attitude indicator/altimeter: Set
ttitude indicator should show no turn, climb, or descent. Heading indicator should be aligned with the magnetic compass. Altimeter should be set to the most recent reading from the automated weather observation system, or the field elevation.

Technique Pretakeoff Checklist
Keeps fuel flowing to the engine during takeoff should the engine-driven pump fail. (On a gravity-fed fuel system such as those on Cessnas, this step is not needed.)

Technique Pretakeoff ChecklistSeatbelts/harnesses: Fastened
Common sense here, and because the regulations (FAR 91.107) require it.

Technique Pretakeoff ChecklistAnticollision lights, landing lights: On
If flying at night, navigation lights should be turned on at engine start; protect your and other pilots’ night vision by leaving anticollision lights off until you’re ready to depart.

Technique Pretakeoff ChecklistEngine instruments: Normal
Oil pressure and temperature, fuel pressure and quantity, should be within normal range. In cold weather, you should not take off until the oil temperature is within a specific range.

Technique Pretakeoff ChecklistTransponder: On/Alt
The unit should be turned on and reporting altitude. ADS-B should be on so that the GPS acquires satellites and syncs with the ADS-B before takeoff.

Technique Pretakeoff ChecklistClearance: Obtain
If departing a towered airport, get permission from the control tower to depart. If departing a nontowered airport, look and listen for incoming aircraft and announce your intention to take off, and direction of flight.

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who is part-owner of a Cessna 182Q.

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