Catch Mistakes With these Crutches


Mnemonics like these are just a form of checklist or, sometimes, short-step do list. The preflight crutch below might be what you recite to yourself just before you grab your bags and walk out to the airplane:

Preflight: “JC WANTS Pub Food”

John—Use it, service it and make sure your passengers have as well.

Call—Call home, the next stop, coordinate service, etc.

Weather—Get (or update) your briefing.

Activate—File, activate, or revise your flight plan.

NOTAMs—Check or update these to include TFRs.

TOLD—Compute Takeoff and Landing Data, gradients, fuel required, etc.

SID—Review departure procedures and emergency return options.

Pub—Publications: verify navigational charts, databases, plates, etc.

Food—Snacks and drinks, but abide by step number one above.

My favorite crutch comes from a Korean-era F-84 pilot who taught the retro version of the ubiquitous “CIGAR TIP,” which hits the critical pre-takeoff items for most airplanes (C—controls, I—instruments, etc.). His was “Can I get frisky tonight Ruby Red?” This is a valuable backup, particularly when silently observing the pilot as a passenger in an unfamiliar airplane.

Pretakeoff: “Can I Get Frisky Tonight Ruby Red?”

C—Controls free and correct

I—Instruments checked and set

G—Gas: proper quantity, feed, and boost pump

F—Flaps set

T—Trim set

R—Runup complete

R—Radios and transponder set

Here are some others that have proven their worth over the years:

Taking the runway: “Final’s empty, tanks are not.”

Clear the flight path and ensure the required amount of fuel is still onboard, particularly in jets where ground delays often eat into fuel reserves.

Cleared for takeoff: “Line on line, point on point, squawk, talk, hack.”

Line—Verify the artificial horizon matches the miniature airplane and no flags.

Point—Check mag compass against heading card and runway number.

Squawk – On

Talk—Confirm takeoff clearance or make CTAF call.

Hack—Note the time or start the clock.

Before Landing: GUMPSS

G—Gas: fuel selector or pumps set up for approach

U—Undercarriage/landing gear all down

M—Mixture set

P—Prop RPM set


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