Pilots universally use checklists when preparing for flight.
There is a lot to do before take off. and a lot to remember.
Using checklists avoids the human error of forgetting a vital
step, piece of information or equipment. Such errors can really
spoil your day! Once you have read the Club
Flight Training Manual, or enough of it to fly competently
off-line, then you may want to try our On-line
Flying course before setting out further afield. These checklists
will improve both confidence and competence.
You will need:
A general plan for the flight. Where are you going? How far is it? How long will it take? What obstacles to you need to avoid? What altitudes can you fly at to avoid obstacles and controlled airspace?
The freeware flight planning software application Plan-G, the best tool we have found for the purpose.
As an optional addition, but not essential, an aviation chart (preferably) or a road map which will provide additional information not provided by Plan-G.
A Checklist for the aircraft you are flying - often freely
available on the web. The Club publishes one for the Cessna
172, which Club Students should use.
Preferably a printed "Pilot's Log" form (Download some examples) or a blank sheet of paper.
Two pencils (in case you drop one and it rolls under the desk at a vital moment)
A note of all the radio frequencies you need.
Be sure you know how to send a flightplan and how to switch
on "Mode Charlie" in FSInn/vPilot or X-Squawkbox.
Create your route in Plan-G,
or using the Club
Flight Planner (or other flight planning tool), with departure, destination and en route waypoints as necessary.
Check your plan to see that the headings, distances and leg times are sensible and agree with the track lines shown on Plan-G or drawn on your map.
Print out the Flight Plan from Plan-G or the Club Planner. Both applications will print your flight plan in a "Pilot's Log" format. Or you can use one of the blank forms available to download from our web site.
Shortly before departure, check the weather at your departure and destination airfields and plan your departure and arrival headings and altitudes accordingly.
What type of joining instructions you might expect (overhead, base leg etc.) for your destination.
Any areas to avoid en route - Restricted Areas, Danger Zones, Controlled Airspace etc.
Estimated time of arrival at destination.
Starting Flight Simulator
Reboot your PC to ensure a "clean" start
Plug in your yoke, joystick & pedals etc.
Start FS and select your aircraft, departure aerodrome, date and time of day. If you are flying in an evening, real time, you will probably want to set the time to daylight, although night flying is quite a challenge.
Ensure you are parked off any runway before connecting to VATSIM.
Connecting to VATSIM and TeamSpeak
Log into VATSIM with vPilot or FSInn (FSX family) or xSquarkbox
Check that you have assigned a PTT keyboard key (and Joystick button if possible) for VATSIM and that it is working.
Log into the Club's TeamSpeak Server.
Ensure that Teamspeak Voice Activation mode is OFF.
Check that you have assigned a PTT keyboard key for TeamSpeak and that it is working.
Ensure that your ATC PTT key is different from your TeamSpeak PTT key.
Check Departure and Destination Airports ATIS on Servinfo or VATSpy.
From the ATIS Note the weather, particularly any strong cross wind, poor visibility and/or low cloud.
From the ATIS, note the Airfield QNH and set your Altimeter subscale. There is a millibar/inches conversion table on the website. Or simply press "B" on the keyboard.
Note down runway in use and circuit direction.
If there is no ATIS determine the most into-wind runway and be prepared for that to be your landing runway. Circuits will be left hand unless otherwise advised
Revise your flight plan to take account of the wind.
Complete and send a Squawkbox or FSInn flight plan from your Plan-G or Club Flight Planner plan, or other detailed plan.
Before engine start:
Check that hardware controls (Yoke, Joystick, Pedals, etc.) are all functioning correctly.
Check you have sufficient fuel for the flight. (Full tanks will do).
Set parking brake ON.
After engine start:
Check parking brake still ON.
Set radios to the departure and en route frequencies.
Set Transponder to 7000 or as required by ATC
Check your Comms by making a "Radio Check" call to ATC
Switch on Mode Charlie as you enter the runway for take off