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Flight Conditions Checklist

Disclaimer: The following information concerns “specific” operations for a 1974/75 Cessna 172 M model aircraft utilizing a Lycoming O-320-E2D 150 horsepower engine and short range (38 total usable gallons) fuel tanks. The information within is provided “as is” for instructional or educational use only. It is not intended to be for “official” use. Links to spreadsheets/documents/checklists etc are shared as an intent for a pilot to customize to their own application. Use at your own risk. We are not responsible for any functions, values, or references as such as they may be inaccurate or not customized for other aircraft. Use with caution and always consult your pilot operating handbook for the best applicable operation of your aircraft.

Ask any pilot learning to fly, and they will confirm that the world of aviation in dominated by checklists. At one point or another in their aviation endeavors, they will question why they have to continuously use these cross-eye inducing task sheets. And it is at this moment of questioning that the pilot’s instructor will remind them that they left the taxi light on the night before and the aircraft battery is now dead. This is an embarrassing moment for sure, but the good news is that the pilot failed to follow a shutdown item on their checklist and the world didn’t end. The bad news, it could have been the landing gear item on their landing checklist and the world for this pilot, could have actually ended. Both of these items are typically a simple switch in a cockpit, but they are also a “routine” exercise in a pilot’s execution, and both can easily be forgotten. This is why we use checklists…

Today, we are sharing our “Flight Condition Checklist.” We are currently in the process of building this spreadsheet. It is definitely a work in progress. After multiple trips to the hangar this past season, we found an issue with the weather, a battery for a piece of equipment that wasn’t charged, or a navigation database that wasn’t updated. While our aircraft was also up to date on its annual, we were not tracking routine maintenance that might fall “outside” of our annual inspection window. This spreadsheet is supposed to be precursor for flight; Is the weather good enough to fly? Are we within the proper weight & balance envelope? Is the aircraft outstanding on any required maintenance or inspections? Are we familiar with our airports to be used, alternate airports available, and aircraft limitations with respect to their runways? We know that Foreflight can do many of the weather/runway calculations, and we plan to continue its use (it is specifically great at TFR notifications), however, we really wanted a place that we can “customize” just for our aircraft. We have cameras, emergency GPS units, onboard navigation databases (G600), Foreflight databases, and other equipment that do not apply to all aircraft. We plan to update this sheet with a “personal minimums” section and possibly a “references” section that would include things such as V-Speeds and Fuel Burn calculations. As it stands, we think this sheet might be of value to others as it is now, so we wanted to share. Feel free to reply with comment if you find an error or think of ways we can upgrade it.

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