Masking Your Preflight

Preflighting an airplane can often become a mundane activity. And students are especially susceptible to this when, after many successive preflights, they fail to find anything wrong with their airplanes. You can help them maintain their preflight vigilance by using the following technique.

Before your student shows up for a lesson, place small pieces of masking tape (approximately 2"x1") at strategic locations on the airplane. On each piece of tape write statements like, "Rivet missing," or "metal cracked" or "wire frayed."

Let your student complete his normal preflight, then ask if he found anything wrong with the airplane. Sometimes he'll say, "Wrong? There's seldom anything wrong with the airplane." Amazed that I'd ask such a question, I've had students stare at me, as if I just walked up to them in Beijing and asked for directions to Chinatown.

Now the fun begins.

Take him on another walkaround and point out the pieces of tape. A crafty student might try to wheedle and two-step his way out of embarrassment with humor. Be prepared for this. I had one student say, "Oh, I thought that tape was holding the airplane together." At which point I replied, "Don't be silly, this is masking tape, not duct tape." Touché!

You can even write the words "Bald spot" on tape and place it on one or more of the tires. Your student won't notice this unless the airplane is physically moved and each tire observed. Of course, you want to retrieve all pieces of tape after the lesson is completed.

UNIQUE PRIVATE PILOT GROUND SCHOOL IMAGES FOR FLIGHT INSTRUCTORSThis technique is also useful during flight. On several occasions I wrote the words "Ammeter shows discharge" on tape and placed it directly on the ammeter. You'll be amazed at how infrequently pilots check their ammeter. Additionally, this is an excellent way to tell how often they scan important instruments like, oil pressure and oil temperature gauges.

The value in this technique is that it keeps students from becoming complacent about preflight. But don't be surprised if sharp students gain the upper hand in this lesson. Several years ago I wrote, "Suction gauge shows inadequate suction" on tape and placed it over the gauge. I looked away to take care of cockpit business. When I looked up, on the same piece of tape, the student had written, "No it doesn't!" I love sharp students.

By Rod Machado | | CFI Resource Center | 0 comments
next post → ← previous post


Leave a comment

Stay in Touch

Wholesale Ordering Only (800) 437-7080

For wholesale orders, please call the number above. For digital (downloadable) wholesale orders, please contact Rod Machado via the contact link above.

Latest Posts

  • Why We Fly?

      By Rod Machado Pop psychologist Leo Buscaglia once said, “When you learn something new, you become something new.” This is a vivid description of the benefits of learning to fly. Students, in the throes of flight training, are constantly... read more

  • Airport Holding Markings: You Can Fool Some of the People...

    By Rod Machado Here's the scenario: From your present position shown in the graphic above ATC says, " to Runway 19R via taxiway Whiskey, hold short of Runway 19R at Whiskey Eight." (The beginning of Runway 19R is located at... read more

  • GONE: Slow Flight at Minimum Controllable Airspeed

    In its 1965 Flight Training Handbook, the FAA dedicated over two pages of text to explain the concept of flight at minimum controllable airspeed (MCA). Today, the most recent edition of the FAA’s How to Fly an Airplane Handbook offers... read more

  • How to Be a Good Student

    By Rod Machado Every student wants a good instructor. That’s given. What’s often not understood by these same students is that good instructors also want good students. The problem is that no one teaches students how to be good students. Sorry, but... read more

  • How to Sabotage Your Flight Training

    By Rod Machado Are you interested in sabotaging your flight training experience? OK, then let me help. Here’s how to do it. Before you begin your flight training, demand to fly with as many different instructors at the flight school... read more

  • What General Grant Can Teach Pilots About Anxiety

    By Rod Machado When Bob stepped into his Cessna 172 on a recent Sunday morning, he had no idea how difficult it would be to apply power for takeoff. No, his airplane was fine. His anxiety level wasn’t. He sat... read more

  • May the G-force Not be With You

    By Rod Machado This is a actual letter I received from a student pilot along with my reply. Dear Mr. Machado: I don't know what to do. I'm a student pilot whose instructor insists that the turbulence we feel during... read more

  • It's Time to Speak Up

       “Hey Rod, tomorrow I’m taking my little airplane out to see what it can do. I’ll see ya later.”   Those were the last words I ever heard my best friend speak. I never saw him again. The next day,... read more

  • The Forgotten Mechanic

    The Forgotten Mechanic Here’s today’s riddle: Name something that all pilots need and use all the time, often don’t know by name, and depend on completely for the safety of every flight. The answer isn’t obvious, and neither is this... read more

  • Weber's Law

    By Rod Machado If you closed your eyes, held out a cup, and asked someone to gently pour water in it, how much liquid would need to be added before you noticed a change in weight? One drop? Probably not.... read more

  • It’s a Long Way Down, Isn’t It?

    Psst! Psst! Come here. Come a little bit closer. I’ve got something I want to ask you, and I don’t want anyone else to hear. Are you afraid of heights? It’s probably embarrassing to admit it, but if you’re like... read more

  • A Foot in the Mind

    By Rod Machado Psychologist Robert Ornstein, in his book Evolution of Consciousness: Origins of the Way We Think, talks about a person he knew as Jim. Jim’s reputation was based on his ability to get others to do things for... read more