Pilot Ground Operations

Posted by Admin on

Before you can take off, you have to be able to get your aircraft safely started and out to the runway. While this may sound rather simplistic, it can be a source of problems to the careless or uninitiated.

The first and foremost considerations in ground operations are common sense and courtesy. For instance, when you are ready to fire up your engine, you always holler “Clear!” don’t you? But do you wait a few seconds after you call out so some poor boob can actually move himself out of the propeller area? Applicants on a checkride are sometimes nervous and are especially susceptible to calling “Clear!” as they are turning the key to start the engine. I’ll tell you this: Anyone in the way of the prop with one of these guys will be looking for his parts over a wide area. This is one example where thoughtlessness can turn deadly. Here’s another:

An acquaintance of mine was in the process of starting his aircraft on his ranch, far away from the potential problems we mere mortals face at the local airport where we have to share space with the rest of humanity. As he prepared to start up his aircraft, it became clear to me that he wasn’t going to clear the area before turning the starter switch. I asked him if he shouldn’t clear the area even though we were in the boonies. He told me that, “Nah” he never needed to verbally clear at the ranch. There were only so many people around and he had them all accounted for. This particular day he started his aircraft and threw his favorite dog about 50 feet, straight into doggy heaven. We’ll never know if old Scruffy would have responded to a loud call, but I’ll bet he would have come around just to see what his master wanted. And you can believe any person over five years old will move in a hurry if warned of an impending startup. The point is that people and animals certainly deserve the chance to get out of the way, so slow down and give safety a helping hand.

If there’s anyone standing behind you, they might also wish to move rather than be showered with a propeller blast, rock chips, dirty water, oil, or who knows what. A small amount of courtesy goes a long way towards a safe flight. And a safe flight literally begins when you strap into the aircraft.

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