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

Physical Product Ordering Only (800) 437-7080

If you'd like to order a PHYSICAL product by phone, please call the number above. Digital (downloadable) products can't be ordered by phone.

Latest Posts

  • FAA Cross Country Book - Out of Print

    Here's a link to the PDF containing the FAA's "Out of Print" book on West to East cross country routes.Download Here   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

  • Dive and Drive: Fact or Fiction? Maybe Both?

    By Rod Machado I am a "dive and drive" denier. There, I said it and I'm not taking it back. The term "Dive and Drive" is used by some instructors in the pejorative sense. It's a pointy phrase that's released like a... read more

  • Pilots, Poets & Psychologists

    By Rod Machado Mention the word poetry to a pilot and he'll act like he's in a hotel fire. He'll think: get low, get down, get out. Admittedly, even I get the heebie-jeebies at the mere mention of haiku (that's... read more

  • The Power of Flight Simulators

    Flight Training on a Budget By Rod Machado Over a period of two semesters, a young college student with two intro flights in his logbook acquired approximately 60 hours of supervised training using a desktop flight simulator. Curious to test... read more

  • The Prevalence Error - Why We Look but Do Not See

    Looking Good, but Seeing Little By Rod Machado Recently, I was having a difficult time seeing things that were in plain view. I was even thinking about visiting the Our Lady of Fatima Optometry Center, where their motto is, “If... read more

  • The Middle-aged Aviator

     By Rod Machado Over the years, I’ve heard many stories about middle-aged pilots (45-65 years) who gave up flying due to a sudden onset of anxiety. Apparently this wasn’t induced by any specific aviation trauma nor inspired by the relatively... read more

  • Cargo Cult Thinking

    By Rod Machado  Early in the 20th Century, pilots visited remote islands by air, dropping off goodies for Tarzan and Jane. On subsequent visits, these pilots noticed that the natives had built flimsy stick-and-twig replicas of their airplanes. Anthropologists named... read more