Don’t let him get to you
SOME PILOTS ARE METHODICAL and thorough when doing
a preflight inspection. Some are not.
And some, like me, find it difficult to stay focused and
are always feeling the urge to get the preflight over with
and get into the air. It’s like a monkey on your back. He
appears when I’m first moving the airplane out of the
hangar, jabbering away and urging me to just hurry up
and get flying.
Usually, he confines himself to, “There’s never anything wrong with that,” or “Look! Everybody else is
gonna take off now.” Although I’ve drawn him here as a
plain old monkey, he is a shape-shifter and can appear in
any guise. An admittedly somewhat extreme example
was provided by a guy I used to fly with back in the
1980s. He had moved to Texas, but word had reached me
that he’d had a pretty spectacular control failure. At my
request, he described what had happened in an e-mail.
He had been working on his homebuilt biplane near
his home and had “removed, adjusted, and reinstalled
the horizontal stabilizer/elevator assembly including
the bolt and castle nut holding the pushrod to the elevator horn,” he wrote.
“At that moment a B- 24 Liberator with a P- 51 escort
buzzed the field, and I ran out to watch, pocketing the
cotter pin that secures the castle nut to the bolt.” He
then climbed into the cockpit and took off. About 15
minutes into the flight, at 4,000 feet, “the castle nut
vibrated off the bolt, and the bolt vibrated out of the