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So what are the thoughts about checkouts?

From numerous other threads and posts "over there" It is obvious that some pilots, renters in particular feel that it is more about a money grab on a monthly basis, rather than assuring pilot competency. I'm not suggesting that I am unsympathetic to this feeling, and yes, it probably happens, but maybe not for those reasons.

From a liability/risk perspective, it's easier to require a checkout, than to reason or judge not to. Send the instructor for a ride with the renter - just to be sure - it's easy... Have the dispatcher decide that rental pilot X does not need a checkout - much more difficult.

I take a checkout whenever I can get one. I figure it is a display of diligence, and good attitude. It might ward off complacency, and if something does happen, the fact that I just had a checkout looks good all around. I have never had a checkout last longer than I expected it to, generally, a half of the expected time, if that...

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada

In my ongoing non scientific poll, like many safety education issues, the people who moan about checkouts are usually those who need them... I have had the pleasure of checking out some vastly experienced military pilots over the years, many with amazing tales to tell, and the really good, really experienced ones never complain, they just see it as normal.

So why do clubs often impose demanding currency requirements? It s because currency is vital to competence and clubs do want people to fly regularly otherwise they become a liability. Renters don't really make much money for clubs - and the last thing you want is a % of your precious fleet bent by a rusty renter. Take an average day on one of my PA28s - would I prefer one of my FIs to bash out say 5-6 instructional sorties to/from home base with students or a PPL who hasn't flown for over a month rock up intending to land away to some demanding strip somewhere?

FI/FE(A) always willing to help!
Oxfordshire / Glocs

The problem in my experience isn't the checkout... it's the two week delay before both you and the instructor are available simultaneously.

kwlf - I agree that is a pain, the club should be able to provide instructors at more than 2 weeks notice you would hope!!

FI/FE(A) always willing to help!
Oxfordshire / Glocs

One of the types in which I had to check myself out was the Piper Tomahawk. I had to ferry it, and there was no one around who knew anything about them. After a "trial by fire" experience getting use to the pitch control during takeoff, I came to quite like it.

A year or so later, I had occasion to "deliver" a sold one to a fellow who came to our field (1600 foot turf runway) to buy it. I offered him a checkout, he declined, he told me that he was very experienced with lots of Bonanza time. I pressed the issue, and asked him to take me for a circuit on the Tomahawk. I said to him: "take me for a circuit, and if you feel completely comfortable flying it, drop me back and off you go."

As we were climbing over the wires, after a bit of my last minute "help" during rotation, he decided that an hour together would be a good idea. After that hour, has was fine, and on his way...

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada

I've very occasionally flown somebody else's aeroplane without a checkout, but not often and then where possible only in a type I clearly knew well, or a single seater.

Occasionally it's not possible. My equivalent to DAR's Tomahawk was an Aeronca Chief I did a ferry in for a purchaser, and in that case I probably spent 2 days reading my way into the aeroplane first.

I've done a lot of checkouts as a syndicate member and more recently as an instructor. They're seldom wasted, but it is important when checking out somebody on behalf of an aircraft owner to agree with the owner what level of checkout they're after - what level of proficiency, local knowledge, and general flying standards the owner considers reasonable and acceptable before somebody goes off on their own.

They're generally of-course much easier if somebody reads the **** manuals before getting in.

I agree on several points other people have made - the more resistant somebody is to a checkout, the more that they probably need it. But finding the instructor can be problematic, particularly with more unusual aeroplanes where an instructor already familiar with the type / airframe can be a struggle to find sometimes. And when you find them, they're usually stupidly busy people.


Boffin at large
Various, southern UK.

There are 2 types of checkouts being talked about.

The first is a type check, that is a dual flight in an aircraft that you have never flown before. While you can legally just jump in and fly any light GA aircraft without any training, common sense indicates a check flight is a good idea. The trick is to make the checkout flight relevant so having a checklist of things to "check" can be helpful. Some things to consider are could be:

  • Review of POH important speeds and a review of the standard manoevers in the normal procedures section of the POH.

  • Weight and Balance review. Some aircraft are surprisingly unforgiving in this respect

  • The preflight inspection. Is there anything different or special to look for like for example the pre oil check "gurgle" that is required for Rotax engines or the importance of checking the one hard to see nut that holds the entire nosewheel assembly on, in Grummans

  • The actions for standard emergencies. What I am looking for are different or unique procedures. Boost pump use is a good example where you need to know how the system works. Going to "high" boost on some aircraft at the wrong time will prevent a restart on some aircraft for example.

  • Handling Gotcha's like the T tail Piper pitch feel on Takeoff or the humongous sink rate you can get in a Bellanca Viking gear down flaps full and idle power on final.

On the actual flight I like to have a look at slow flight so I can get an idea of what the aircraft feels like when it is getting slow and practice the checks a few times so I get familiar with where everything is. That plus a few takeoffs and landings and I should be good to go. BTW I never do touch and go's in retractable gear aircraft during check out flights every landing is a full stop and taxi back to a normal takeoff.

The second type of checkout is the "currency" checkout. If the point of the exercise is to prove that the person is safe to fly the aircraft then the start up, taxi, runup and one circuit will tell the tale. The challenge is how good is "good enough"........

Wine, Women, and Airplanes = Happy

I agree, but it's not uncommon to find that you're effectively doing both at once.


Boffin at large
Various, southern UK.

I quite enjoy checkouts. There is always a new detail to learn and the pleasure of sharing someone's else experience.

Most have been "currency" checkouts when renting at a new place when on holiday, aeroplane type well known.

On a few occasions the renting club had a new to me model which was an extra bonus.

But I agree, who doesn't like checks normally needs them most.

Happy only when flying
Sabaudia airstrip

Yes BPF, the Bellanca Viking was one of the other types I had to check myself out on. I offered to do the maintenance test flight on the lonely one which had been sitting in the back of the hanger (half joking) and was told that would be great, go ahead - Hmmm, 'called me on it!

I read the flight manual, thoroughly, and got it figured out. What a super plane, but yes, you have to skay well ahead of it all the time! Then I was told that I'd better get quite familiar, as I had to check out the new owner, who had no relevant experience.

After 10 hours of training and flying with him, he asked me to sign off on his skill. I told him I thought that a bit more training would be in order, but he said he had to take the aircraft home, and he did. I presume he made it, though I never heard.

Not the ideal attitude, and I really wonder if the plane was properly insured with him as PIC, as I never signed him off to the insurer.

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada
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