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Pre-Flight Checklist: What To Check Before Takeoff? 2024 Updated

By: Richard J. Gross
Updated On: December 8, 2022

A pre-flight checklist is an important thing to have if you’re a pilot. It helps make sure that you don’t forget anything important before takeoff.

But do you need a pre-flight checklist if you’re not a pilot? The answer is yes! Everyone should have a pre-flight checklist to make sure they’re ready for anything.

In this article, we’ll discuss what a pre-flight checklist is and why you need one. We’ll also provide a helpful checklist that you can use to make sure you’re prepared for anything.


pre-flight checklist

The pre-flight checklist has been around for a long time. The first pre-flight checklist was created in 1911 by Alberto Santos-Dumont. He was a Brazilian aviation pioneer who is credited with creating the first self-propelled airplane.

Santos-Dumont was notorious for being a perfectionist when it came to his aircraft. He always made sure that everything was in order before takeoff. To make sure he didn’t forget anything, he created a pre-flight checklist of items he needed to check.

This included things like making sure the wings were secure, the engine was running smoothly, and the fuel levels were correct.

Santos-Dumont’s pre-flight checklist was the first of its kind and set the standard for aviation safety. Today, all pilots use pre-flight checklists to make sure they’re ready for takeoff.

Also Read: Sectional Chart: An Ultimate Guide To Read & Understand

The Format of Pre-Flight Checklists

pre-flight checklist

There are many different types of pre-flight checklists. However, most of them share the same basic elements.

A typical pre-flight checklist will list the items that need to be checked before takeoff. It may also include a section on what to do in the event of an emergency.

Some pre-flight checklists are specific to a certain type of aircraft. For example, a C152 checklist might include specific items that need to be checked on a C152 aircraft.

Other pre-flight checklists are generic and can be used for any aircraft.

Also Read: Aircraft Insurance: Types, Costs, Coverage

Example of the Cessna 152 Checklist

pre-flight checklist

Before Starting Engine

  • Full external – Check
  • Seat belts/shoulder harnesses – Fastened
  • Landing Gear Position Lights – Checked
  • Fuel shutoff valve – ON
  • Instruments and Radios – Checked and Set
  • Doors and Windows -Locked
  • Brakes test and hold – Checked

Starting the Engine

  • Carburetor heat cold.
  • Prime up to three strokes.
  • Throttle open 1/2 inch.
  • Master switch – ON
  • Beacon – ON
  • Propeller – Exercise
  • Ignition switch start.
  • Adjust rpm with throttle to 1000 or less.
  • Mixture lean one inch for taxi-ing.
  • Flaps – As required
  • Radios – ON
  • Transponder on standby.

Before Takeoff

  • Brakes – Set
  • Cabin Doors – Locked
  • Flight controls – Free and moving Correctly
  • Fuel valve – ON
  • Mixture – Full rich unless above 3,000 feet MSL
  • Throttle – Advance smoothly to 1700 rpm (ensure you still have the brakes applied.)
  • Oil pressure and temperature – Checked
  • Ammeter – Check
  • Suction gauge – Check
  • Carburetor Heat – Check
  • Magnetos – Check
  • Throttle – Reduce to idle
  • Flight instruments – Set as required
  • Radios – Set to desired Frequencies

As you can see from the list, many different items need to be checked before takeoff. This can be daunting for some people, but with a pre-flight checklist, it doesn’t have to be.

If you’re not comfortable using a pre-existing checklist, you can always create your own. This is a good option if you have a specific aircraft that you’re flying.

The best way to create your checklist is to start with a generic checklist and then customize it for your aircraft. This will ensure that you don’t forget anything important.

Also Read: Effect of Wind on Airplane | Preventive Measures

Do Experienced Pilots Perform Pre-Flight Inspections?

pre-flight checklist

The answer to this is yes; experienced pilots do pre-flight checks. Even if you’re an experienced pilot, using a pre-flight checklist is a good idea. This will help ensure that you don’t forget anything important.

PPL students would also get an idea about the basic and necessary steps to be followed while doing a pre-flight check. At the same time, some private pilots completely rely on their experience and gut feeling without properly going through a pre-flight checklist.

Pilots who don’t use a pre-flight checklist are taking a risk. If something goes wrong during takeoff, they may not have the time to go through their checklists. This could lead to disaster.

Do your Pre-Flight Checks Out Loud

pre-flight checklist

One way to make sure that you don’t forget anything is to do your pre-flight checks out loud. This will help keep you focused and ensure that you don’t miss anything.

It’s also a good idea to have someone else check your pre-flight checklist. This will help ensure that there are no mistakes.

Pre-flight checks are an important part of any flight. By using a checklist, you can ensure that all the items on your list are checked off. This will help make sure that your flight is safe and enjoyable.

Also Read: Ultralight Airplanes: Everything You Need to Know

What Could Be Found During Pre-Flight Inspections?

pre-flight checklist

During pre-flight checks, you may find that something needs to be repaired or adjusted. This is why it’s important to do a pre-flight inspection every time you fly. By doing this, you can catch any potential problems before they become bigger issues.

Pre-flight checks are also a good opportunity to check the weight and balance of your aircraft. This is important for safety reasons.

A Variety of Aviation Checklists

pre-flight checklist

In addition to pre-flight checks, there are also other aviation checklists that you should be familiar with.

Some of these checklists include:

  • Pre-Takeoff Checklist
  • In-Flight Emergency Checklist
  • Landing Checklist

Each of these checklists is important for ensuring a safe flight. Make sure you are familiar with them all and know how to use them.

Also Read: Airplane Takeoff Procedure: An Ultimate Guide


As we have seen, there are many different factors to consider when deciding whether or not to create a pre-flight checklist. If you are flying a simple route under VFR conditions with little potential for hazards, then a checklist may not be necessary.

However, if you are flying a more complex route or under IFR conditions, then a checklist can be a valuable tool to help ensure a safe and successful flight.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to use a pre-flight checklist is up to the individual pilot. If you feel comfortable and confident in your ability to remember all of the necessary tasks without a checklist, then there is no need to use one.

However, if you feel that a checklist would help you to better organize your thoughts and ensure that nothing is forgotten, then, by all means, create one. There is no right or wrong answer, so do whatever works best for you and makes you feel most comfortable. Safe flying!

Richard J. Gross

Hi, my name is Richard J. Gross and I’m a full-time Airbus pilot and commercial drone business owner. I got into drones in 2015 when I started doing aerial photography for real estate companies. I had no idea what I was getting into at the time, but it turns out that police were called on me shortly after I started flying. They didn’t like me flying my drone near people, so they asked me to come train their officers on the rules and regulations for drones. After that, I decided to start my own drone business and teach others about the safe and responsible use of drones.

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