Pelican’s Perch #51:
Our New C-131 Checklist

For a transport-sized warbird with a host of complex and oddball systems, creating a good checklist is a daunting task - one that AVweb's resident pelican has been spending a lot of time on lately. John Deakin offers a guided tour of his new C-131 checklist, and explains some of the thinking and human-factors considerations that went into it.


Pelican's PerchFirst, some old business …

I’m pleased to report that my previous column has had a good response, almost entirely by private email. There are now about 25 people signed up for the C-131 ground school. Many are “crew chiefs” and non-pilot volunteers, some are obviously well-qualified to be SICs, and several are qualified to be PICs, at least on paper. It remains to be seen how many show up, and how well they do in the actual airplane.

Commemorative Air ForceI’ve advised all that the following steps are mandatory for participation, in order:

  • Join the CAF
  • Join the SoCal Wing
  • Get on my Email lists
  • Send in completed CAF Forms 600 and 601 (I can email these)
  • Attend Ground school on February 1, 2 & 3, in Camarillo, Calif.

As the completed Form 601s arrive, I’ll summarize them, and make a list for the local leaders to review. At that point, a loose “pecking order” will be established, according to some magic combination of:

  • Past and current participation as a volunteer, or anticipation of future volunteer efforts
  • Contributions to the CAF and to SoCal (NOT just money, but time, resources, talent, workdays)
  • A good attitude, able to work with other volunteers and represent the CAF to the public
  • Willingness and ability to help out with fuel costs (not required, but we’re so short of funds, it’s a major plus)
  • Current experience with big recips and warbirds
  • Past experience with big recips and warbirds (distant past doesn’t count for a whole lot)
  • CFIs will have an advantage (we need instructors)
  • A&Ps will have a major advantage
  • Non-local pilots who have airline privileges
  • Above all else, demonstrated talent in the airplane
  • Hours, years, and number of type ratings don’t count much, as long as the very low CAF minimum requirements are met.

A very common complaint I hear is some variation of, “Gee, I’d love to participate, but I can’t justify getting there for the ground school, unless I’m sure I’ll fly.”

Sorry, but that’s not the way this all-volunteer organization works! If you can’t justify coming here just on the chance you MIGHT get to fly a warbird, you probably don’t have the eagerness and the “drive” it takes to show up and help out once you’ve flown.

We’ve also been burned by folks who show up all eager and full of promises, but turn out to just want a “vanity” type rating, and once they get it, , they’re gone.

Now, on to the checklists, one of my very favorite subjects. I’ll cover the new “Normal” checklist in this column, and if there is any interest, I’ll do the “Emergency” checklist in the next one.

Checklists … Who Needs ‘Em?

Operators seem reluctant to alter checklists, even when they have no idea where the one in use came from. Many seem to fear the FAA might violate them if they try and change the checklist, or even worse, if they don’t use the one from the manufacturer. The fact is, the FAA doesn’t even require a checklist at all under Part 91, unless the airplane is over 12,500 pounds, or is turbine-powered!

Now, don’t get me wrong, as so many did in my first column here (“Throw Away That Stupid Checklist”) four years ago! One point at a time:

  • A checklist is REQUIRED by the rules of common sense and good airmanship for ALL airplanes. NO exceptions!
  • In many one-pilot aircraft, a MENTAL checklist MAY be sufficient, IF the pilot is proficient and disciplined enough to do a thorough cockpit setup first, and THEN do that mental checklist, every time.
  • In ALL OTHER CASES, a WRITTEN checklist is MANDATORY in my book, whether required by the FAA, or not.

During our training stint in Florida, we worked with the checklist provided, which was not from the manufacturer or the Air Force, and was of dubious parentage, to say the least.

A much better example is the one from North Central Airlines, provided by friend Randy Sohn (and probably written by him, centuries ago). But it’s designed for one of the old scrolling boxes, and for an airline operation, not entirely suitable for us, and there have been some improvements in checklists since then, too.

Get Acrobat Reader (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these two PDF files.)

I’ve also been tasked with coming up with a standard format for all Commemorative Air Force (CAF) checklists, and since this has been an area of intense interest for many years for me, I was eager to take on the job. What follows is my initial attempt at this job, and this is the checklist we used to bring the airplane home. Kerry and I will then see how it works for real, collaborate on the almost-inevitable changes, and it should be pretty “final” when training begins for the new folks.

Here is the new checklist. I have inserted occasional comments for AVweb readers in italics that will not be in the master document.

Commemorative Air Force Convair C-131 N131CW
(Rev 2.1 12/23/2001)

By John R. Deakin

Author’s Note: We begin with a little preface, which allows me to mount my favorite soapbox. Please forgive the sermon.

-The Reverend Deacon Deakin

This checklist is generally in compliance with the recommendations of Degani & Weiner, who have done a great deal of research on the use and formatting of checklists for NASA, NTSB, NBAA and aviation in general, and whose work has been adopted by most of the world’s airlines. The author hopes to make this the standard format and style throughout the CAF.

Author’s Note: The format has now been approved, and I have the checklists for the B-24, B-25, B-29 and C-46 in hand. Few items will be changed except to standaridize terms, at first.

Two internet references with much more detail are:

Very, very few pilots are willing to study this issue, and fewer still can be persuaded to change the habits of a lifetime. If they’ve always done things a certain way, they always will do them that way, as “good enough.”

This is nowhere better illustrated than in the use of the old-fashioned “do” lists, where the pilot sits down, and calls for the check list. It will usually be a long one, and even with the best of intentions, the items will not get the attention that only a few of them deserve. The person reading the checklist will usually not be checking anything (despite SOPs to the contrary), and the person responding will be rather mindlessly going through the motions, with no backup and no redundancy. It’s so easy. No thought required. Very little knowledge is required, and the training value is nil.

In most cases, the pilots become familiar with the airplane, and the long “do” list is simply skipped, except on a check ride.

Very, very few airlines use “do” lists for normal checklists today, and the change has nothing to do with “jets vs. recips,” it is simply a better way to operate all airplanes.

True “check” lists for normal operations are done in two stages. First, each pilot does a “flow” pattern, checking everything in the cockpit, setting, testing whatever needs testing, then positioning the item for the next operation. For the most part, BOTH pilots check everything with this flow pattern, though many operators specify which pilot is to actually move things, or run the tests needed by some items.

In general, using this “flow,” the cockpit is completely set up for each operation from memory, after which a crewmember reads the challenges (and sometimes responds). Responses are by the appropriate crewmember, considering the importance and location of the items. In some cases, both should respond. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should the challenging pilot continue until there has been a clear, correct, thinking response (as opposed to an absent-minded or careless one). Both crewmembers should actively participate in the execution of all checklists except the “After Takeoff” and “After Landing,” which are not particularly critical, and may be done silently by the pilot not flying (PNF), while the pilot flying (PF) pays full attention to the job at hand.

On the other hand, most operators do use a combination of techniques for emergency checklists. The “flow” becomes the “memory items,” done without a checkist (then reviewed) by checklist. The “cleanup” or non-memory items are never done, except when there is an actual emergency, so there is never an opportunity to do a “flow.” For this reason, they will be done carefully and slowly, preferably by both pilots. The “cleanup” checklists done as “do” lists will be FAR more effective than a “do” list on routine items.

Many pilots will moan, “You mean I have to memorize that flow?” No. All the pilot has to memorize is where to start the flow, and then simply check each and every item in the cockpit. As each item gets a look, the pilot MUST know what it is, what it does, and where it should be for engine start or takeoff.

This C-131 checklist absolutely requires the latter, more modern approach, a “flow,” then a “check” list.

In summary, you should use this checklist ONLY AFTER each crewmember has done a “flow pattern.” This is NOT a “do list”! Pilots cannot just climb into the cockpit, sit down and call for the checklist to accomplish the desired results.

“Flows” may be done in any sequence, but each pilot should be able to check every item in the cockpit, and not only know where it should be positioned for each stage of flight, but should be able to explain what each item is, how it is used, and why it should be set in a given way. The ability to do this will be a major part of any training ride, and especially on check rides. Once the “flow” is completed by each crewmember working alone, the checklist should be conducted by BOTH crewmembers working together, one challenging, the other responding. (One exception may be the “After Takeoff” and “After Landing.”) If while doing the challenge/response checklist something is discovered that was not previously and properly done during the “flow,” it must be realized that an error was committed, and all must THINK about the error, how it happened, and must resolve to improve next time.

Now, let’s keep this in perspective. No one is perfect, and it will be a very rare flight indeed when this standard is met by anyone! It is a goal, a concept. It requires a “self-critique,” not a “blast” from the instructor or check pilot (unless many such items are missed, and there is obvious sloppiness involved).

For the most part, this C-131 checklist contains only the “killer” items, and, in a few cases, those items most commonly forgotten that can cause great embarrassment (CAF movement reports, for example).


Convair C-131 N131CW

Convair Serial Number 205
USAF Serial Number 54-2809
CV-340 (with all 440 mods)
“Type 2” in Dash-1 (Flight Manual)

Terms and abbreviations used in this document:

Author’s note: Awright, you guys, anyone who sends me that hilarious British Airways SOP is gonna get the rubber turkey award. This is serious bidness, here!

Pilot in command (PIC)
This is the pilot legally responsible for the conduct of the flight.

Author’s note: You know, the one the FAA goes after.

Second in command (SIC)
The pilot designated as under the authority of the PIC.

Crew Chief
The person designated as the third crewmember, under the authority of both pilots.

Author’s note: Our Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is to run with a third crew member on all flights. To my personal knowledge, this has twice saved engines.

PF = Pilot Flying
Generally, the person handling the flight controls, usually acting as PIC.

Pilot Not Flying
The person other than the PF, who is not handling the flight controls.

Left Seat Pilot (LS)
Right Seat Pilot (RS)
These terms identify only the physical position of the person. May be a PIC, SIC, PF or PNF. For example, the nose gear steering wheel is accessible only by the left seat (LS) pilot, so LS must handle all power, brakes, and directional control on the ground below 80 knots. He may be the PF, PNF, the PIC or SIC.

This “empty response” calls for a specific response, but one that may be variable, depending on the configuration, or the weight, or load, etc.

Means the item has been tested, or checked for presence, or absence, etc. It also implies “Set,” below.

Calls for an item to be set a certain way.

Before Start

Each flight must begin with the usual preflight planning, weather and NOTAM checks, airport data, fueling, oiling, adding hydraulic and ADI fluid, etc. Upon arriving at the airplane, scan it from a distance for any obvious abnormalities, such as a missing engine or removed tail.

An external preflight may start anywhere, and go around the aircraft in either direction. This description will start at the nosewheel and proceed clockwise. The main thrust of any external preflight is to look for ANYTHING abnormal, and for “general condition,” leaks, dents, damage, etc. No effort will be made here to call out “general condition,” as that is assumed. Only the special items, or those unique to this aircraft will be mentioned.

Description of Exterior and Interior Preflight

  • Nose gear Steering link connected
  • Safety pin removed
  • Accumulator AIR pressure 1,000 or more
  • Hydraulic pump switch down and guarded
  • Nose gear doors connected
  • Forward belly door handle secure (must be within about 1/16th inch of touching the stop)
  • Cabin Compressor Inlet clear
  • Fuel drain from outside wheel well
  • Fuel drain from inside wheel well
  • Main gear pin “Dishpan” secure
  • “Boston” gauges indication (record)
  • Repeat on other side

Nothing special on the inside, check all doors, loose items.

After the external and internal preflight visual inspection, each crewmember will take his seat, “make his nest,” fastening the seat belt and shoulder harnesses, adjusting the seat, and setting up personal equipment. Each will then survey the cockpit in an organized fashion, following a personal “flow,” or the one suggested here. One method would be start at the circuit breaker panel (usually checked as the cockpit is entered), then proceed outboard to the rear outboard panel, work forward, across the instrument panel (taking each row of instruments in turn), down along the pedestal, then from the rear of the overhead, down and forward.

This is a highly detailed examination, realizing that many of the items will NOT be on subsequent checklists! The person performing this “flow” must THINK about what the item does, what it controls, and where it should be positioned for takeoff, if possible, for engine start if not.

Author’s Note: Here’s where I run into a lot of resistance. The nay-sayers whine, “But we only fly these airplanes 20 hours a year, we can’t possibly be expected to remember all that! PRECISELY! When you sit down and try the “flow” after being away from the airplane for a couple of months, and it seems difficult, that’s your clue you NEED to go over every item in the cockpit, and either pull out the manual, or do some review with other crewmembers! The “flow” FORCES you to review!

This “Before Start” checklist is intended to be run without electrical power. This will conserve the battery power for the critical engine start, but will get many time-consuming items done so that only a few items are left to do between turning the battery on and hitting the starter.

Author’s Note: Airlines and the military almost always used an external power cart, a luxury we do not have. A battery start was considered to be almost an emergency procedure. For us, it is normal, and we have adapted our procedures to that.

The written checklist should be held in one hand, with the thumb gripping the front side AT the item being called, as a “pointer.” This should not change until the item has been covered.

Author’s Note: I know, that’s really getting basic, but you see, I’m anticipating having some Navy pilots, here. You know the type, “When the big hand is on the twelve …”

If the checklist is interrupted, it’s good technique for the RS to say, “Holding at ,” and place the checklist in an obvious location as a reminder. The PF should come back to it with something like “Let’s continue the checklist, what was that last item?” Only when BOTH crewmembers are POSITIVE that they are looking at the last item completed should the checklist go forward.

External/Internal Preflight COMPLETE
At least one crewmember is expected to do a thorough external and internal preflight inspection of the entire aircraft. By the time this checklist is executed, this must have already been completed. One pilot might say, “I did the outside, but not the inside,” and the other might say, “Ok, I got the inside.” Or, “Ohmigosh, I did the outside, too, did you do the inside?” If not done properly, one seatbelt gets undone, and the interior preflight gets done before proceeding with the checklist.

Steering Link CONNECTED
This extremely important item must be checked visually by at least one crewmember. If no one in the cockpit can positively remember checking it, get out of the seat and check it again.


Failure to disconnect this link for towing, or to connect it for taxiing will result in major damage, and possible loss of the airplane.

Paperwork, Logs, Forms COMPLETE
This is a reminder to make sure all paperwork requirements have been met, the logs are on board, and sufficient blank forms are on board. Weight and balance must have been considered, all fluid quantities recorded, etc. This is one of those items that is not directly involved in safety of the airplane, but can be very embarrassing if overlooked, AND often is.

Movement Report (1-800-545-9758) COMPLETE
Self-explanatory. Only on this checklist to cover “The Embarrassment Factor.”

Author’s Note: The CAF requires notification of all flights, officially known as a “Movement Report,” unofficially known as “Calling Mother.” “Mother” is Kelly Wimberley, at HQ in Midland, who prepares “Movement Awards” to be presented to a few deserving pilots at the big annual “CAF AIRSHO,” also in Midland. The good guys who were timely and accurate all year with their reports get golden-colored ones (“The Golden Movement Award”), those who didn’t do as well get them in the appropriate shade (“Brown Movement Awards”). Yes, that’s what they look like, too.

Circuit Breaker Panels “_______”
All circuit breakers must have already been checked, and the respondent should call out any exceptions (such as the compressor disconnect circuit breaker, normally left off).

Fuel, Oil, Hyd, ADI Quantity “_______”
Respondent should review and reply with the QUANTITY of each fluid. For example, “1,500 gallons of fuel, 25 gallons of oil in each engine, Hydraulic quantity is correct for this system pressure, 15 gallons of ADI, enough for several takeoffs.” Use extreme caution, as the cockpit fuel gauges are marked in POUNDS, while the “Boston” gauges are marked in GALLONS.

Author’s Note: “Boston” gauges are mechanical indicators in the lower surface of the wing, no power required. Due to the dihedral, the lower/inner one shows up to about 400 gallons, the higher/outer one shows up to about 835 gallons, with a tank capacity of about 865 gallons (only the two wing tanks). Does anyone know the origin of the term “Boston Gauges”?

Emergency Air Pressure “_______”
This direct reading gauge should have been checked at this point (during the “flow”), and should contain about 2,000 PSI.

Author’s Note: This is a very small bottle that will blow the gear uplocks, and provide a few brake applications in the event of a hydraulic failure.

Gear Pins, Pitot Covers REMOVED
RS MUST look across at the bulkhead behind the LS, and carefully count THREE pins present, then respond. One or both should specifically remember removing and stowing the pitot covers.

Author’s Note: I may someday tell the story of how I came to be in the left seat of a certain Martin 404 with the nose gear pin still installed. For now, let’s just say I’m sensitive on this subject.

Gear Handle DOWN
RS should make sure the gear handle is horizontal with the safety latch stowed. This should have been checked during the “flow,” and checked again now.

Hydraulic Bypass Valve DOWN

TOLD, Crew Briefing, Speeds COMPLETE
“TOLD” is standard terminology for “TakeOff and Landing Data,” usually a card or paper with “The Numbers” on it. This data should have been ALREADY determined and discussed. This is the time to discuss it and make sure both pilots know the numbers and the intentions of the PF, both for the normal taxi route and departure, and any emergency return.

At this point, the aircraft should be ready for electrical power. When cleared to start, the PF should turn on the battery, check the bus voltage for 22VDC or more, make sure the beacon light is on, check the fire warning system and all other warning lights, pull the gear safety latch out to check that the three green gear lights extinguish, return it to the normal position and make sure the green lights come on again. If not already set, the parking brakes must be set at this time. After doing this, the PF should call for the “remaining items,” or “below the line.”

Elecrical Power On

Beacon Lights ON
Note this switch is best left on at all times, even with the battery off. This serves as an external warning that there is something going on in the cockpit, and it may serve to remind a careless crew that the battery has been left on after they leave the cockpit.

Author’s Note: Some complain this drains the battery, but it really isn’t that much of a load, and the very real safety benefits far outweight this small disadvantage.

Warning Lights, Fire Test COMPLETE
The gear lights, all warning lights, and the fire detection system should have been checked at this point.

Parking Brakes SET, PRESSURE “____”
Minimum HYDRAULIC brake pressure (as shown in the cockpit) is a judgment call, and requires specific knowledge of this system. If the cockpit hydraulic pressure gauge shows zero, chocks should be used for the start. If it shows anywhere between approximately zero and 1,000, the system must be serviced. Anything over 1,000 is normal.

Author’s Note: Many get confused on this subject, as it involves “accumulators,” not often found on small GA aircraft.

At this point, the aircraft is ready for engine start. The start is done entirely from memory.

The right engine will almost always be started first to produce hydraulic pressure for raising the airstair. The airstair CAN be raised with the emergency hydraulic pump, but it is a very heavy load on the battery, better conserved for the start.


Starting with a low battery may leave insufficient battery power to continue cranking for a fire during the start.

RS must turn on the “STARTER ARM” switch on the RS console. Either pilot may start either or both engines, but this overview assumes “LS” will be start both.

Author’s Note: Convair must have been REALLY worried about inadvertent prop movement, because there are no less than FIVE separate switches that must all be in the proper position before the starter actually turns!

Turn on the right boost pump and check that the right low pressure light (DC) extinguishes.

Note that no other indication of fuel or oil pressure exists at this point, as the inverters are not on in order to conserve battery power. LS moves the starter selector to the right, and then squeezes the two starter switches together. RS watches and counts blades aloud as “three, six, nine, twelve,” and (if requested) switches the right mags on at 12 blades (cold) or six (hot).

(Airline pilots count “One, One, One, …”)

Author’s Note: The following describes the “controlled quantity start,” or “primer start,” most often used on big radials. There are other ways to do it, but this is the favored one. The engine is started solely on the primer, with the mixture in idle cutoff.

LS primes carefully, by “tickling” the primer. The primer system on this engine is MUCH more powerful than many other R-2800 installations. In general, steady prime, even when cold, will not work as well as “tickling” the primer switch. This is something of an art form, taught only by experience. When cold, you might use half a second of prime, and then one second of “no prime.” That will probably be enough to get it going. Once the engine is running smoothly, full prime on a cold day may work, but be alert for signs of flooding, and be ready to momentarily stop priming. If the primer is left off for too long, a backfire will surely result. If the engine is hot, use just a touch of prime, then wait a couple seconds.

If a CAF ground crew member is watching, he will signal with a “Thumb down” that fuel is dripping or running from the blower drain, a sign that the engine is overprimed. Priming should cease until he gives the “Thumb up,” indicating the dripping has ceased.

Author’s Note: If the ground crew waves one hand in a large, horizontal figure eight, it means “You have a fire.” The seriousness of the fire can be judged by the size of his eyeballs, and his direction and speed of movement.

If there is no ground crew present who knows this technique, then the pilot on the side being started must lean out and watch for the fuel (and fire), calling it out to the pilot starting the engine. To this end, the RS may have to start the left engine, while the LS watches for fuel.


Too much prime will result in a serious “torching” fire inside the cowl, which may be visible either at the upper cowl flap, or the rear end of the augmenter tube. KEEP CRANKING, and get the engine running!

Once the engine is running smoothly on the primer alone, turn on the #1 inverter to power the (AC) oil pressure instrument and check the oil pressure. If that appears normal, advance the mixture to AUTO-RICH, wait for the engine to flood and start losing RPM and then release the primer switch.

[An alternative trick on this airplane only is to move the mixture forward just a few inches, then pull it back against the mechanical stop that prevents inadvertently moving to ICO (Idle Cut Off). This will usually give an excellent idle mixture for ground operation. Once both engines are warm, it will usually be beneficial to remove the stop, and lean each individually for maximum RPM for ground operations.]

After the primer switch has been released, LS should turn off the right boost pump and check the right fuel pressure. RS should check hydraulic pressure (main and brake), cabin compressor oil pressure, and AC/DC electrical on the right engine. At 1,000 RPM, the generator should supply some output, which will assist the battery in starting the left engine.

With a well-charged battery, all inverters may be turned on even before the right engine is started, if necessary. With a low battery (less than 22V), they should probably be left off, except perhaps for momentarily checking the oil pressure.

Once the right engine is running, the airstair should be retracted by the crew chief.


It is imperative that the person closing the main door knows exactly how to do it. Great personal injury can result from getting a face full of the door structure, and failure to properly engage the latches my result in loss of the aircraft.

Note that with one engine running and one stopped, this is the only opportunity to determine FBP (Field Barometric Pressure) unless the inverter is turned on before the right engine is started.

Author’s Note: “FBP is the Manifold Pressure before the engine is started. When the engine is run up at high power later, setting the manifold pressure to exactly that number will produce a specified RPM at all elevations, under all conditions, unless there is something wrong with the engine. This is a VERY accurate power check. The MP gauge in this airplane is AC powered, so it will not work at all until one main inverter is turned on.

While the door is being closed, the LS pilot may start the left engine in the same manner as the right. However, if the main door is closed after the left engine is started, remember that all doors are connected to the “Door Open” light, and it MAY remain on even after the main door is properly locked. This would necessitate lowering the main airstair again and having one person descend right in front of a running prop. He will then need to go check the outside handle on the forward belly, which is very close behind the right prop, also running.

For this reason, it is general policy to wait until the forward airstair is closed, AND the “Door Open” light has extinguished before starting the left engine.


Do not allow passengers to use the airstairs while the LEFT engine is running. At the discretion of the PIC, a crewmember may do so, but this is strongly discouraged as a policy.

With both engines running, LS pilot should turn off the left boost pump and check the left fuel pressure, return all starting switches to the neutral positions, turn on both inverters, and call for the ground power (if used) to be removed. RS should return the “Start-Safe” switch to “Normal,” turn on the window heat (low), and check the electrical systems (DC and AC) on the left engine.

It is also recommended at this point to reduce RPM below 1,000, then move each mag switch from BOTH, to RIGHT, LEFT, OFF, BOTH to make sure that both mags are “live,” and that ignition grounding is normal when the switch is OFF. Then increase RPM to somewhere between 900 and 1,000, again.

Author’s Note: This is actually an excellent procedure to use in ALL aircraft with mags.

The “flow” is complete, and the LS will call for the “After Start” checklist.

Important note: CAF policy FORBIDS operating CAF engines in “Auto Lean” on the ground (possible exception: Holley carburetors). It serves NO useful purpose, AND it creates the risk of taking off in Auto Lean, with possible detonation and engine damage. The engines MUST be operated in Auto Rich at all times on the ground, OR MANUALLY LEANED to the point of near fuel starvation. This WILL prevent fouling, and it WILL prevent an inadvertent takeoff in Auto Lean. Manual leaning is highly recommended on these engines.

Author’s Note: This is also true of most recip engines on the ground. Almost all of them idle too rich, and it’s even worse at higher elevations.

In the C-131, manual leaning on the ground is very easy. Initially just pull the mixture all the way back to the mechanical stop that prevents inadvertent shutdown in flight. Then release the stop, and gently lean for maximum RPM.


Once the “flow” is complete, the PF calls for the “After Start” checklist.

After Start

Engine Instruments NORMAL
Cabin Compressor Oil Pressure “____”
These two should have been already scanned for “normal” during the flow.

Starter Arm Switch NORMAL
This is the switch on the RS console. It should have been returned to “Normal” by the RS when starting was complete.

Author’s Note: This dual function switch enables the starter circuitry, and closes/disables the heat source valves in each nacelle during start.

Window Heat LOW
Should be in “Low” (this is for bird impact protection, not anti-icing!)

Generators, Inverters ON, CHECKED
RS should have already checked all electrical indications by switching through all positions on both selectors right after both engines are running.

Confirm by signals from the ground that it has been removed, and the aircraft is clear.

Door Light OUT
Confirm this light is out (whoever closes the door should also watch it as the door is locked for a positive indication that all doors are closed).

Hydraulics CHECKED
An excellent way to check hydraulics is to extend the flaps to the takeoff position. This assures that the entire system is working properly, and that there will be brakes available. It also adds a bit of redundancy for the flaps, to “do” them now, and “check” them later.

Time Out “____”
Unlike most items on this checklist, this is not a safety item. But it is so often forgotten that it is added here.

At this point, the aircraft is ready to move. Oil temperature is seldom a problem, as the aircraft will move away with about 1,000 or 1,100 RPM. If more than 1200 RPM is required to initiate movement, wait for 40C on the oil temperature. Oil temps are very slow to start moving on this airplane, but once they do start moving, they rise quickly.

Author’s Note: Very old classic rule with big radials, “Do not exceed 1,000 RPM until oil temperature is moving, and do not exceed 1,200 RPM until oil temperature is 40C. This is a fairly “religious” item.

Author’s Note: An interesting sidelight. Many pilots erroneously think these temperature considerations apply to TAXI! Some manuals even have this! They will sit in the parking spot, waiting for the oil temps to rise. Folks, the engine doesn’t know if the airplane is taxiing, or stopped!

LS should call “Clear right side?” He should wait for an affirmative response, and check the left side clear before moving. 1,000 RPM may be enough to start moving. It may take a little more with a heavy airplane, but rarely over 1,200. As soon as the aircraft is moving, check the brakes gently, and the RS should note that the brake pressure cycles and remains normal. During the first turn, check that the needle and ball respond properly, and that the directional instruments rotate and indicate the correct headings.

Reverse is NOT normally checked, as once it is checked, there is no assurance it will work the “next time,” and it simply wears out the machinery. It is not required for takeoff, abort, or return for landing.

Once clear of the ramp and all obstructions, and during taxi to the runway, the “Before Takeoff” checklist may be started. Every item requires the full participation of both pilots.

Before Takeoff

Flight Instruments CHECKED & SET
This is a reminder that the instruments should have been set and checked (altimeter, headings, radios, etc.). It’s not a bad idea to review them again at this time.

Flaps “____”, SET
Flaps should be confirmed at the correct setting for takeoff, by BOTH pilots, and called by both. (RS challenges, “Flaps.” LS says, “Takeoff Flaps “__” set.” RS says, “Takeoff flaps “__”, set.”)

Trim 1, 2, 3, SET
Both pilots should check that the pitch trim is set for about 5 units up, and that the other trim tabs are set to zero (or slightly offset from previous flight, if desired). Both pilots respond, in turn.

Takeoff Data REVIEWED
PF reviews aloud, confirmed by PNF. This has all already been reviewed and briefed before the engine start, but it’s not a bad time to re-review the speeds, and anything additional.

Warning Lights CHECKED
Checked and called by both pilots. None should be on.

This completes the checklist as far as it can be done without a runup. If no runup will be performed (as for an immediate takeoff after landing), proceed with the checklist during taxi.


Runup is quite conventional, and performed from memory. 1500 to 1700 RPM, check the props for smooth function, and for a minimum governed RPM of 1,200 when the “Low Lights” illuminate. If more than one cycle is needed, it is NOT necessary to run the governors all the way to “High Lights,” just toggle them up to 1,700 RPM, then toggle them back for the next cycle. The full run between “High Lights” and “Low Lights” should be about 14 seconds.

Still at 1500 to 1700 RPM, push each feather button in turn, check the amperage draw on the ammeter, check the red light comes on in the button, check the RPM drop (very quick on this airplane) and pull the button out to the “neutral” position. If you inadvertently pull the feather button out (beyond neutral), the RPM will decrease to about 1200, but the button does not remain out by itself.

Carburetor heat should NOT be checked during runup, or within about five minutes of takeoff. If this check is requested by maintenance, it should be checked right after engine start, or during early taxi.

Engines should be run up to Field Barometric Pressure together, and a power check noted (2100 RPM, at FBP on the left engine, about 50 RPM less on the right due to the load of the cabin compressor). Engine instruments should be quickly scanned, and mags should be checked, taking at least five seconds on each mag. Further high-power runup will unnecessarily heat up the engines, and should be avoided. If preferred, engines may be run up one at a time. That reduces the time at high power slightly, but prolongs the total runup time.

With the runup complete, the aircraft is ready, and the checklist may be continued to get more items done in preparation for takeoff.

Mixtures AUTO RICH
This item is to catch the case where the mixtures have been MANUALLY leaned, and forgotten. It also helps those who insist on using Auto Lean on the ground, from long habit. If anyone does that on this airplane, they will not be on this airplane very long.

Both pilots should make sure the single auto-feather light next to the switch is on, and (VERY important!) also make sure the red lights in the feather buttons are ON, indicating the torque sensors are working. Both pilots should respond.

Similarly, both pilots should make sure the ADI switch is on, and that both lights are on. Both should respond.

Both pilots should check the prop lights are on, and respond to that effect. Some will push the switches forward to make sure they don’t go out, and others will take the additional step of pulling them back, checking the lights extinguish, and then pushing them forward again, checking again for “high lights.”

Author’s Note: These are the very interesting “Step Head Motor” switches, controlling small DC motors right on the prop governor. This system replaces the long cable runs, so difficult to design, install and maintain through a pressure vessel. It has the disadvantage that an electrical failure means loss of prop control, and the RPM will stay where it was when the electrical failure occurred. These are NOT, however, “electric props,” but normal Hamilton Standard props, operated by engine oil. Only the control method is “different.”

Cabin Air Control AUTO/ALT
This is to catch the situation where “Cool” or “Heat” has been selected on the ground. These “ground only” positions are forbidden for takeoff.

Flight Controls FREE, CORRECT
Flight controls should have been checked, and both pilots should respond. Consideration must be given to winds and potential prop/jet blast on the flight controls. If there is any risk of controls being blown against the stops, this step should be delayed until taking the runway.

At this point, the aircraft is ready to line up on the runway, and the checklist should be stopped here until cleared into position.

When cleared onto the runway, the PF (or PNF, if requested) should turn on the boost pumps, set the cowl flaps to “Mid,” and turn on the transponder, then call for the “final items.”

Taking Runway

Boost Pumps ON
Transponder ON
Should be in the “Normal” position.

(We are probably going to change the location of this item, and make it happen sooner, in order to reduce the number of things that are being done as the aircraft moves into position. Turning on a transponder early (and turning it off late) no longer messes up ATC radar.)

Cowl Flaps MID
Cowl flaps should be in the “Mid” position.

Time Off “____”
PNF should note the time off, or start a timer running.


See page 2-20 in the “Dash 1.”

The takeoff procedure is fairly complex, and pilots should practice the sequence and timing until it is second nature. There are many things to do, and they occur very quickly.

It is also very important (and required by FARs) to understand and consider takeoff performance. Highly detailed charts are provided in an extensive set of charts in the appendices, unlike earlier aircraft that are flown “by the seat of the pants.” Pilots will be expected to have a fair understanding of these charts.

Technically speaking, this aircraft does not have V1 and V2 speeds, for they are mentioned nowhere in the manual. The military manual (the official manual for this airplane) speaks of “Refusal Speed”, which may be considered as roughly synonymous with “V1,” as used in the airline world, and “Takeoff Speed,” which is very roughly synonymous with “V2.” We will use “V1” and “V2” as a useful “shorthand” for these terms, recognizing that this is only shorthand.

In principle, all takeoffs will be made at flaps 15, a field elevation of 3,000′ density altitude or less, with 5,000 feet of runway length or more, and with no tailwind. If those parameters are met, the tabular data on the checklist may be used. If they are exceeded, then takeoff performance must be thoroughly investigated in the proper appendices of the “Dash-One,” and takeoff must be made within those limits.

“Rolling takeoffs” are permitted. Many pilots prefer bringing the airplane to a complete stop in position. Either way, both engines will be brought up to some significant power setting (about 30″ MP), a final engine check should be done, and the red lights in the feather buttons MUST be extinguished (at about 25″ MP, or 80 BMEP). If the stop was made, the brakes should be GENTLY released. Do not delay with engines at 30″, as the cylinder head temperatures will already be rising quickly.


If either red light fails to extinguish at about 80 BMEP, the takeoff must be aborted, as that prop will probably automatically feather when the MP reaches about 45″, and the throttle switch “makes.”

Always abort for ANY malfunction of the prop system.

Author’s Note: The term “BMEP” will be a strange one to many AVweb readers, and an old familiar friend to others. It is synonymous with “torque,” and is a very accurate indication of actual torque delivered to the prop shaft.

The PF will bring the manifold pressure up to full maximum power smoothly and aggressively, with the PNF assisting with the final setting as needed, and blocking throttles from overboost. RS will then place BOTH HANDS on the YOKE (whether PF or PNF), and will hold the yoke as needed for crosswinds, while the LS steers the airplane with nose gear steering during the initial roll, until rudder control is effective.


FAA and CAF regulations, and good airmanship absolutely demand the use of full takeoff power on all takeoffs.

After brake release and the feather lights extinguish, and before reaching 80 knots, there will be a few seconds of acceleration with little else to do, and this is a good time to do a last scan of the engine instruments. The PNF should do this, and report “Engines ok.”

Starting at about 80 knots, four things occur in rapid succession.

(1) PNF will call “Eighty Knots” when he sees it, and the PF will confirm that approximate reading on his own airspeed indicator. A major difference (or no indication on either side) is cause for an abort, and either crewmember may take that action before 80 knots. After 80 knots, only the PIC may actually abort the takeoff.

(2) No later than 80 knots, LS will move his left hand off the nose gear steering wheel. The PF will call “My Yoke” (LS), or “My Steering” (RS), and the other person will acknowledge with “Your yoke” (RS), or “Your steering” (LS).

Author’s Note: This is very confusing to those who have never flown this configuration. You don’t want pilots fighting for any of the controls (NGS, yoke, rudder pedals), so the transition must be made very, very clear.

(3) The PF will, at that time (now passing about 90), lift the nose enough to extend the nose gear strut fully, and allow the airplane to fly off in that attitude. It should lift off just after passing V2.

(4) As the airplane passes refusal speed (V1), the PIC will take his hand off the throttles, as the clear and universal signal committing to the takeoff, even with an engine failure. (In other words, the PIC is required to keep his hand on the throttles until refusal speed, and then is required to move his hand OFF them after refusal speed.)

When the PF is positive the airplane will not contact the runway again, he will call “Gear Up,” also giving the classic “Thumb Up” motion. The PNF must confirm the aircraft is well clear of the runway and not likely to settle back. One common technique is to observe an “up” indication on the vertical speed indicator, call “positive rate,” and then call for or retract the gear. With some old airplanes, this may delay gear retraction a bit more than desired, as the initial climb rate is very low, and the VSI may lag for several seconds.

After the liftoff, there are three possible speed/climb options. THIS IS NOT A JET, and no major pitch up is EVER permissible! (Author’s note: One of the most difficult habits to break in those who have flown only jets is the “Rotate” syndrome. Correct in jets, but BAD in recips! Recips are flown off the ground, not pulled off.)

(1) The most common technique with a normal airplane and no obstructions is to simply hold the liftoff attitude while increasing speed and altitude together. (If an engine quits after liftoff, this same attitude will be very close to what is needed to maintain the desired speed (not below V2)).

(2) With real obstructions that demand max performance, pitch up slightly to maintain V2+10 until the obstructions are cleared, then lower the nose to the liftoff attitude and accelerate.

(3) With an engine failure, maintain the speed at failure, but not below V2 until a safe altitude is reached. A stable attitude is key here, and it will be very close to the normal liftoff attitude. “Safe altitude” is very much a PIC decision, but many will arbitrarily select the altitude used in certification, 400 feet, after which acceleration begins. However, if there are no obstructions, acceleration may begin immediately, as with (1) above.

Regardless of the profile selected, at 120 knots and accelerating, the PF will call “Flaps up,” then “METO Power.” The idea here is that power should not be reduced to METO unless and until takeoff power would not be required if an engine quit. Below pattern altitude, always maintain power and configuration as if you KNOW an engine is going to fail.

Author’s Note: On approaches, I see a lot of pilots “dirty up” long before it’s necessary to do so. If I’m instructing when they do this, I will instantly simulate the failure of one engine, and then the fun begins. They will go through a flurry of gear and/or flap retraction, putz around figuring out which engine is out, move a whole bunch of unnecessary controls, and almost invariably they will need “desperation power” in order to make the runway. If they make the runway (they often don’t), the comment is “Boy, the performance on one engine is really poor!” No, it isn’t, they just royally screwed up. If they’d kept the airplane “clean” until descent is required, and I cut an engine in the same place, they usually can get away with just raising one eyebrow, easing the power up a bit, and continuing the approach with no other action. If there is time, they may choose to go through the “identify, feather” drill, but the whole maneuver is far less critical. Back to the takeoff.

Note: When very heavy, the PF may wish to delay the call for METO, to 500 feet agl or so, but observing the two-minute limitation unless an engine is out.

Note: The two minute limitation for TAKEOFF power does NOT mean the engine will melt down, or fail if TAKEOFF power is held for longer. TAKEOFF is a power setting that is good indefinitely, but if the two minute limit is consistently exceeded on many takeoffs, engine life (TBO) may be reduced.

When the airplane is “clean,” the climb is stable at 140 knots or better, and sufficient altitude has been gained (usually 400′ to 500′ agl when light, perhaps 1,000′ agl when heavy), the PF will call “Climb Power, Autofeather off, ADI off.” The PNF will perform those actions. As with the reduction to METO, do not reduce to Climb Power until METO would not be needed with an engine out.

Note: The next higher power setting may be selected if an engine fails, but using the procedure above, the increased power won’t be needed quite as soon.

After passing about 1,000′ agl, the boost pumps should be turned off one at a time, and the hydraulic bypass valve should be moved to the UP position. Once outside the traffic pattern area, the PF should call for the “After Takeoff” checklist, and the PNF may either call it, or do it silently.

After Takeoff

Auto-Feather & ADI OFF
Confirm these switches are off.

Gear UP
Handle should be secure, flat against the pedestal, latch stowed, and all gear lights should be extinguished.

Flaps UP
Flaps should indicate fully up.

Hydraulic Bypass UP
Handle should be up, relieving all but brake hydraulic pressure.

Boost Pumps OFF
These should have been turned off one at a time, while observing fuel pressure. A small drop is normal. If there is fluctuation (common with hot fuel), they may be left on. (Boost pumps will almost always be required above 11,000′ DA, to counter bubbles and fuel flow fluctuation.)


There is no “Cruise” checklist, as engine and systems management is a continuous, on-going matter throughout any flight. From memory, pilots should set the desired MP and RPM. Power and performance charts are not the easiest way to determine power settings, but they are certainly favored by the old-time flight engineers. Here’s a much simpler way. We know that:

Horsepower = RPM X BMEP / 283

From this we find that at 2100 RPM (common figure from the cruise charts, not too high, not too low), 140 BMEP produces about 1,038 HP. We don’t care if we produce 900 HP or 1100HP, both are reasonable (low and high) cruise power settings, as is anything in between. What we DO care about is a proper mixture. If we are going to end up at 140 BMEP after a “12 drop”, then our starting BMEP must be 152. Simply set 30″ MP (momentarily), 2100 RPM, AutoLean, and then set whatever MP it takes to produce 152 BMEP. Let that stabilize for about five minutes (for AMC cooling and stabilization), while closing the cowl flaps as needed to maintain about 200. Then, if necessary, reset 152 BMEP, then lean for the 12 drop to 140. This automatically takes care of temperature, pressure, and altitude. It may leave the MP needles slightly split, and that’s fine.

There is no “magic” about 200 CHT, and there is absolutely no “minimum CHT,” inflight. 150 CHT would be just fine, with no harm to the engine. But 200 is about the hottest CHT that should be allowed for long periods, for best engine life. The reason we try for 200 is to be able to close the cowl flaps as much as possible, to reduce drag, and increase airspeed. For example, if you have the power set properly, but are showing 180 CHT, the cowl flaps are too far open, with too much drag. Closing them a bit will raise the CHT, decrease drag, and increase airspeed.

For all maneuvering flight (training, etc.), cowl flaps may be left in the “MID” position, with CHT below 200, even far below it, as drag doesn’t matter. For cruising flight, where “gallons per mile” becomes important, try for 200 by cowl flap control, at the power setting desired.

After about 15 minutes of stabilized operation, it is a good procedure to turn the oil cooler control switches to the off position for the remainder of the flight. This will prevent the automatic temperature control from “masking” a sudden change in oil temperature, and will give earlier warning of an engine problem.

For descent, keep the BMEP under 140, or some figure less than that to control airspeed as needed. If mixture is a concern, simply set AutoLean. At normal descent speeds, do not reduce below about 100 BMEP.


Somewhere within range of the ATIS broadcast, and at least ten minutes before entering the traffic pattern, the crew should get the ATIS, discuss it, and discuss and brief the arrival and landing, including speeds to be used, whether reverse will be used, and the techniques involving the PNF. The PF should make all intentions known to the PNF so that both know exactly what is supposed to happen. If there is an instrument approach involved, all the details must be discussed, and the radios set (or briefed) for the final approach. The generic part of the briefing may be shortened to “Same as previous,” if the same crew has flown the airplane the same day, but this shortcut should not be overused.

Both pilots should perform a “flow” very much like the one that was done before starting, pre-positioning every possible switch and control in the cockpit for landing.

At some fairly significant power setting, and in AutoLean or AutoRich, a quick mag check should be done, listening and feeling for roughness. Even a single plug failure can be felt, and this check will catch almost all such failures, preventing a mission abort on the next flight. Some roughness is normal if manually leaned.

Author’s Note: This is a wonderful technique in ALL aircraft with mags! It is a FAR more demanding test of the ignition system than the 1700 RPM used in most GA runups.)

A thorough check of all the electrical systems should be performed, testing both generators, both emergency alternators, and all inverters for proper operation. Again, this may prevent a mission abort on the next flight.


DO NOT turn generators off and back on when loaded, this may cause a sheared drive shaft. It is sufficient to check the gauge indications for each unit.

After all that is done, the PF will call “Approach Checklist.” This should be done well before arriving anywhere near the airport area in order that the crew can devote full attention to flying the airplane, other traffic, and radio instructions.


Briefing, Landing Data COMPLETE
This should have been completed by this point.

Fuel “____”, TANK TO ENGINE
This should have already been done, but it’s a good idea to recheck that both tank switches are ON, and the crossfeed switch is OFF. The “blank” in the checklist response should be filled with with some indication of quantity. This serves as a “fuel state awareness check” during multiple landings.

Cabin Signs ON
Should be ON, and the cabin should be checked secure at least five or ten minutes before landing.

Mags, Gens, Invs, Alts CHECKED
Should have been checked during the flow.

Emergency Air Pressure “____”
Recheck this direct reading gauge, which should show about 2,000 PSI.

Mixtures AUTO-RICH
Put them in Auto-Rich well outside the traffic pattern, and leave them alone.

Hydraulic Bypass DOWN
This lever should be down, pressurizing the system.

Hydraulic Quantity CHECKED
The LS person must look back and down to the left, and describe what he sees, with “Three quarters full,” or whatever it is. There are marks for a pressurized system, and for an unpressurized system.


See page 2-23.

The airport pattern should be entered at about 140 knots clean, or 120 knots with approach flaps. There are three key points that illustrate where the gear should be extended if all is normal:

(1) Abeam the numbers on a visual downwind at 1,500′ agl, about 120 knots,

(2) Intercepting the ILS GS or passing 1500′ agl on GS, about 120 knots,

(3) Any other equivalent distance and altitude, about 120 knots.

When the PF calls “Gear Down, Landing Check,” the PNF should put the gear down, place the cowl flap switches in “Mid,” turn the boost pumps on, and by that time the gear should be down, three green lights should be showing, and the hydraulic pressure should be normal. The PNF will immediately begin calling the checklist.

BOTH pilots should respond with the full response, pointing first to the handle, then the lights, then the pressure indicator.

Boost Pumps ON
Cowl Flaps MID
PNF should verify that these switches are already set, and then call, “Landing check complete, standing by flaps and High Lights.” Or, “Flaps and High Lights to go.”

The PNF should put his fingers on the prop switches as a reminder to both pilots. Somewhere on short final, or when the RPM has dropped below the governing range, or when PF calls for them, the PNF should move the switches forward, and watch for the high lights to come on, call them, and say “High Lights, Landing Check Complete.”

PF will call for flaps as needed/desired. Flaps 28 will give outstanding go-around capability with a minimum of control force change, at the expense of more runway used for the landing, due to the lack of aerodynamic drag on the landing roll. Flaps 40 will have a slightly lower stalling speed (about 4 knots), which is insignificant, but the landing roll will be reduced by the additional drag. In either case, reverse is very effective.


The airspeed must be 95 knots or less when crossing the threshold with flaps 28 or more. The airplane really floats in ground effect, and higher speeds will cause a touchdown far down the runway.

At touchdown, the PF should call “Reversing!” This is the clue to the PNF to pull the T-Handle, which moves the stop out of the way. PF must be careful to pull only a small amount of power until the reverse lights indicate reverse is working, then to modulate reverse power very carefully and gently. This is not a jet transport, where the pilot can yank in full reverse to mechanical stops until the reversers are locked, then pull full reverse! Use no more than 30″ of manifold pressure in reverse, and seldom that much, unless running off the runway is imminent.

As the speed drops to 80 knots, the LS must call “Your yoke” (if LS is PF), or “My steering” (if RS is PF), and move his hand to the nosegear steering wheel. RS will hold the yoke firmly with both hands to prevent buffeting from reverse, keeping whatever correction is necessary to help hold the wings level in crosswinds.

When unreversing, the throttles should be moved forward past the reverse stops, and the RPM must be very carefully watched to prevent the engines from dying at low RPM and low airspeed.

Neither PF nor PNF should take any further action in the cockpit until the airplane is fully down to taxi speed, and preferably clear of the runway. Do not retract the flaps until (1) the brakes are checked, (2) system pressure is normal, (3) aircraft is taxiing straight, no turns are imminent, and everyone knows where it is going, and (4) there is no conceivable need for brakes in the next few seconds. If there is any wind at all, or the final landing is done, lock the controls.

When everything is stable, LS will say, “Flaps Up, After Landing Checklist.” RS will proceed with that, working silently. He should note the time, raise the flaps for the next takeoff (or up, if done), turn off the boost pumps, open the cowl flaps, turn off all unnecessary radios and equipment (including windshield heat), do a grounding check on the mags, and note all fuel, oil, and ADI quantities. Turn off the right inverter unless another takeoff is going to be done. After doing that by “flow,” run the checklist.

After Landing (Silent)

Time On “____”
PNF records the time of landing, to calculate “Airborne” time.

Gust Locks ON
If the LS has not already called and done this, the RS should suggest it, unless there is no wind and there will be another takeoff.

Author’s note: Locking and unlocking the flight controls on this aircraft is definitely a two-person job! LS will have left hand on the NGS, and his right hand will be fully occupied by the gust lock device. RS will need to center up first the ailerons, then the elevator, then the rudder, as the gust lock mechanism engages each in turn.

Trim 1, 2, 3, SET
RS should reset the trim tabs for the next takeoff, normally 5 units up on the pitch, zero and zero.

Cowl Flaps OPEN
PNF should place the switches in the “Open” position, and hold them there long enough to be sure all cowl flaps are open. A visual check by each pilot is a good idea, too.


Cowl flaps must be fully open at all times on the ground to assure cooling, even in Arctic conditions.

Boost Pumps OFF
Off for the taxi.

Flaps UP
Flaps should be up if the airplane is to be shut down, or set for takeoff.

Windshield Heat OFF
Turned off, unless another takeoff is to be performed.

Unnecessary Equipment OFF
If the airplane is being taxied back for another takeoff, there is little or nothing to turn off. If the final landing is complete, this includes the windshield heat, all radios except the comm radios. The #2 inverter may be turned off to reduce load.

Grounding Check COMPLETE
At some point during the final taxi-in, the RPM should be reduced to less than 1,000, and each mag switch sould be moved to the OFF position momentarily, then back to BOTH.

Fuel, Oil, ADI Readings RECORDED
These should be recorded, and reconciled with actual amounts, later.

Author’s Note: Fuel tracking is much more important in this airplane than some. There is no way to physically determine the amount of fuel in the wings. There are mechanical fuel quantity gauges on the bottoms of the wings (gallons), and AC electrical gauges in the cockpit (pounds). Only keeping track of “probable fuel used,” and “fuel added,” and some combination of fuel quantity indications, we can be reasonably sure of the fuel status.


Upon stopping at the ramp, LS should set the parking brake, check the pressure, then shut down (or ask the RS to do so) the left engine with the mixture so that the crew chief can lower the airstair. LS should turn off the seat belt sign, and turn off the remaining inverter(s). When the airstair is down, the right engine can be shut down with the mixture, wait for the prop to stop, turn off all mags, and lighting, and finally, turn off the battery.


Parking Brake SET
Parking brake should be set until the wheels are chocked. If the brakes are at all hot (pilot judgement), they should be released until cool. Once cool, the parking brakes should be left SET for parking, unless towing is anticipated. Chocks are of very little benefit in strong winds without the parking brakes set, as the airplane will bounce around and nudge the chocks away, leaving the airplane free. Parking brakes are by far the best way to protect the airplane from wind, without a hangar.

Seat Belt Sign OFF
Inverters OFF
Mags OFF
Battery OFF
Check all four of these items “OFF”:

Movement Close (1-800-545-9758) COMPLETE
Not a safety of flight item, but so often forgotten…

(And don’t forget, Kelly passes those “Movement Awards.”)

Gear Pins, Pitot Covers, Bird Blocks INSTALLED
A reminder to secure the outside of the aircraft.

Fuel, Oil Quantity CHECKED
Oil quantity should be checked if at all possible, before it has a chance to drain down into the engine. Record all indications for comparison with the cockpit indications.

In Pattern (Training) Checklist

(Replaces After Takeoff, Approach, Landing Checks)

When remaining in the traffic pattern for repetitive takeoffs and landings, only a limited number of items are required. If all the checklists are run, there are too many superfluous items, and the pilots will be too busy running checklists, and not paying enough attention to other traffic, ATC, and flying the airplane. This one highly abbreviated checklist is intended to be called for and worked after the gear is down for the next landing.

However, in order to instill good habits, the PF should always call for the “After Takeoff Checklist.” The PNF should call “Complete” without actually taking any action. Similarly, the PF should call for the “Approach” checklist, and the instructor calls “Complete,” again without taking action.

Fuel “____”, TANK TO ENGINE
During repetitive landings, especially touch and go landings, it is very easy to lose track of fuel quantity, and this is the primary purpose of this item.

Emergency Air Pressure “____”
Since this is the only source of backup brakes, it should be checked on every landing.

Boost Pumps ON
As on the normal landing check, the PNF should call, “Checklist complete, flaps and high lights to go,” keeping his fingers on the prop switches in readiness.

Again, the PNF should call, “Checklist complete, High Lights to go.”

(End Normal Expanded Checklist)

Get Acrobat ReaderHere’s a link to the actual (non-expanded, non-annotated) C-131 checklists we now use in the airplane in PDF format (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.)

Be careful up there!