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By Dan Sobczak
Editor's note: This content does not constitute flight instruction. Consult a certified flight instructor in your area for proper flight instruction.
Ever wondered when pilots started using checklists?
Did it start with that first flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina -- or more precisely -- Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina?
What did Orville and Wilbur Wright's 1903 pre-flight checklist look like? Did they use a GUMPS checklist?
Gas = On.
Undercarriage = Skids attached.
Mixture = Yep.
Prop = Still attached.
Seatbelts/Switches = Seatbelts? There were no seatbelts on the Wright Flyer. Switches? Wooden lever mounted.
A Curtiss JN-4 'Jenny' circa 1918. Photo source: Wikipedia.
Of course, there was no such checklist -- at least one that is familiar to pilots today -- for that famous first flight.
In fact, the first "pseudo-checklist" wasn't used until the "Jenny" in 1918.
A special handbook was created by Glenn H. Curtiss for the JN-4 "Jenny" airplane. The Jenny's checklist was not a "use this while flying" checklist, as pilots use today. Rather, it served more as a list of items to remember before the pilot strapped into the airplane and took off.
With brief sections that detailed actions to take before takeoff, some in-flight procedures and safety precautions to remember, some advice on landings, and ways to avoid stalls and spins, it was not exactly the birth of the pilot checklist.
But even then, the checklist didn't really come into existence until 17 years later in 1935 with a crash.
The Boeing XB-17 (Model 299) in flight. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo.
The history of the aviation checklist as we know it today is quite an interesting story. And it began with the Boeing XB-17 Model 299's test flight which ended in a crash just after take-off. Of course, the Model 299 later went into full production as the B-17 Flying Fortress.
There are many pilot checklist templates, examples, acronyms, and mnemonics in aviation, just as there are variations among airplanes and pilots themselves.
What sort of checklist pilot are you?
Do you prefer the 'Challenge and Response' approach?
Or the 'Flow' method, sometimes referred to as the 'Do then Verify' approach?
Or maybe you approach your checklist differently -- as in 'Review then Do'?
Either way you carry out your checklists, you can't argue the importance of checklists in aviation. These lessons from aviation checklists can also be applied in non-aviation areas of life.
The Flight Chain App team
Dan Sobczak is the founder of www.FlightChainApp.com, a mobile app that helps pilots learn from accident chains by making NTSB reports more convenient and easier to digest. Dan received his private pilot certificate in 2003.
Flight Chain App and its companion blog www.AheadOfThePowerCurve.com are committed to reducing general aviation accidents, helping improve aviation safety, and growing the pilot population.
The only aviation accident app that helps you see and understand the accident chain from NTSB reports.
Flight Chain App and its blog Ahead of the Power Curve are committed to reducing general aviation accidents, helping improve aviation safety, and growing the pilot population.