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Checklist for "Gotcha" Items

A jump pilot bears huge responsibility on every flight. An awareness of the many things that can go wrong is key. Here is a list of items that a jump pilot should check--and double check--on every flight. These items are covered in every Jumpers Away course.

  • Perform a full preflight inspection and be sure the airplane is airworthy.

  • Know how to calculate weight and CG for your airplane, and when to do so, based on the load.

  • Check all fuel sumps for water and debris.

  • Ensure that the fuel caps, oil filler cap, and the oil dipstick are on and fully tight

  • Always ensure that you have enough fuel for the flight plus reserve. The only sure way to do so is to visually stick the tanks.

  • Ensure your seat is fully locked in the seat rail before starting.

  • Prior to every takeoff, run a complete “before takeoff” checklist.

  • As you roll out onto the runway for takeoff, check again that the fuel selector valve is on “both.”

  • As you rotate on takeoff, expect a power loss, and be ready to pitch down immediately to maintain flying speed and not stall (80 mph is best glide speed). Choose the best landing option within 30 degrees of each side of your heading and fly the airplane to touchdown, steering clear of obstacles.

  • Except for takeoff, always climb and descend the airplane within gliding distance of your runway.

  • During takeoff and climb guard the fuel selector and throttle quadrant from skydiver interference.

  • On jump run, keep your eyes on the door and the skydivers climbing out, and be ready to grab and contain any pilot chute or deployment bag inadvertently deployed in the airplane, while preventing the skydiver from climbing out.

  • On jump run, keep your eyes on any skydivers on the strut and the step, and be ready to input full right rudder and right aileron if you observe an inadvertent deployment.

  • During descent, and anytime when flying in visible moisture, pull on carburetor heat often.

  • Always fly a close-in landing pattern—on downwind, base, and final—so that you can glide to the runway should you lose an engine anywhere in the pattern. And practice power-off landings.

  • If hot-loading skydivers, keep your hand on the mixture knob, and sweep your eyes from the right-rear around to the left-rear and back, looking for any skydivers, spectators, children, and dogs moving in the direction of the propellor. Don’t wait until they get close; pull the mixture knob to kill the engine.

  • Occasionally practice your emergency bailout procedure.

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