Piper Cherokee Jack Fleetwood
Photo by Jack Fleetwood www.JackFleetwood.com

The holidays are over and I have started prepping for the air show, boating, and motorcycling seasons. I’ve already got the motorcycle on the lift in my garage getting ready for a change of wheels and tires. I have held off on making changes because I might get to ride on a good weather day. In fact, I did have the bicycles and motorcycle out for a ride on Christmas Day. But sometimes riding season comes late, depending on weather. 

As pilots we know weather is also a big factor for flying. We can basically fly year-round (if the heater works) especially on local hops, but prepping for the “flying season” is a bit different. 

Preparing for the season includes getting the plane ready, getting the pilot ready, and getting the plane’s tool kit ready. Any type of trip has a risk of on-the-road breakdowns especially on longer jaunts. So, what repairs do you plan for and what do you pack? 

Check what’s in your wallet 

Do you remember the advertising line of “What’s in your wallet?” For me that’s the first thing I do in a preflight — I check my wallet to make sure I have enough “get out of town” cash. I recommend carrying enough for a tank of fuel. You’d be amazed how many small rural airports want cash for fuel. And it can be difficult to get a ride to a bank or store that will give cash back for use of the credit card. Take my word on this. 

I also make sure to have a couple of different credit cards in case one has a problem. Plus, I carry my necessary licenses, etc. Always seems like a smart way to start by making a pre-trip wallet check. 

The four W’s 

When you are taking your aircraft on a trip to some unknown airport or location, what do you take along besides your wallet? What about the extras for your aircraft? 

Do you have a checklist of extras and equipment that are essential when you travel? 

While planning for any trip, I follow the four W’s of pre-travel planning: Who’s going? Where are you going? When are you going? What are you flying? This helps decide what equipment to take, the number of headsets, and if there are requirements for camping, tie downs, and even sick sacks. By the way, the four W’s works with motorcycle and car trips too. 

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