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Training and Safety Tip: Preflight yourself with MICE

One of the first aviation tasks you learned was preflighting—that process before every flight by which you ensure that the airplane is airworthy and ready to fly. But what about yourself?

Photo by Chris Rose.

Do you preflight yourself to ensure you are ready to fly and primed to learn?

If not, it’s an easy task. I think you’ll find that the pilot preflight checklist roughly parallels the airplane preflight checklist:

  • Check battery: As part of the preflight, you ensure that your airplane’s battery has a healthy amount of energy. What about you? Did you get an appropriate amount of sleep? Are you well rested and ready to learn?
  • Check fuel and oil: You’ve checked the fuel in the wing tanks and the oil in the sump. But are you, the pilot, adequately fueled and lubricated? Proper nutrition and hydration keep not only your body in peak form, but also your brain.
  • Check weather: Of course, you wouldn’t leave for the airport without first checking current and forecast weather, but did you remember to sync your wardrobe to the forecast? Are your clothes suitable for the temperature, sun conditions, and wind? Unstable weather calls for layers. A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen complete an aviator’s wardrobe.
  • Complete navigation log: Depending on where you are in your training, you may or may not be creating nav logs yet, but you probably know that nav logs are formal plans of action for how to get from one airport to the next. Likewise, you need to be prepared to navigate your flight lessons by ensuring that—in advance—you’ve studied, understood, and reviewed the materials your CFI has assigned.
  • Check ARROW: An essential part of preflight is ensuring that all the legally required documents are on board because the airplane isn’t airworthy if any are missing. Likewise, even if you are the best student pilot ever, you’re not “airworthy” if you don’t have the required (FAR 61.3) documents within reach. These are your Medical certificate, [government-issued] Identification, [pilot] Certificate, and [logbook] Endorsements—or MICE. Yeah, not quite as cool as ARROW, but it was the best I could come up with.
  • Sump fuel: And finally, just like draining a little fuel from the wing tanks to eliminate contaminants so the engine runs smoothly, the last step of the pilot preflight is taking a personal pit stop as needed so you will be comfortable during the flight.

William E. Dubois

William E. Dubois is a widely published aviation writer and columnist. He is an FAA Safety Team rep and a rare "double" Master Ground Instructor accredited by both NAFI and MICEP. An AOPA member since 1983, he holds a commercial pilot certificate and has a degree in aviation technology. He was recognized as a Distinguished Flight Instructor in the 2021 AOPA Flight Training Experience Awards.
Topics: Flight School, Training and Safety, Student
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