As flight instructors there is always a lot going on in the cockpit when we are teaching.  Not only are we trying to teach our students how to fly, but we are also responsible for the safe flight of the sailplane.  One of the times when we have a lot going on is right before takeoff during the cockpit checklist.   While others may have some responsibility for things that are going on, we—the instructors—have the ultimate and final responsibility for the flight.  During the time the checklist is being performed by the student we, as instructors, are watching the rope for knots, checking the pattern for traffic, answering last minute questions from our student, checking the wind conditions, and hopefully still going through the cockpit checklist with the student.  However, sometimes we may assume when we hear the student “read aloud” a checklist item that it has actually been performed.  This is where we stand a chance of getting ourselves into trouble.  The two most dangerous items on the checklist to miss are locking the canopy and closing and locking the dive brakes.  If you have never missed either of these items as a flight instructor you are better than the average instructor.  I, for one, have at one time or another missed each of them.  Because of that I have begun to perform what I call the “INSTRUCTORS’ ROLLING CHECKLIST.” 


The “INSTRUCTORS’ ROLLING CHECKLIST” is quite simple.  It begins right after we start rolling down the runway and your undivided attention is now on the takeoff.  At this point I once again check that the canopy is locked and that the dive brakes are closed and locked.  Since starting this final “rolling checklist” I have never lifted off the ground with the canopy unlocked or the dive brakes open.  I know the argument can be made that this check should be done before the sailplane starts rolling and believe me I try.  However, past experience says we will from time to time miss one of these two items.  Consider this “rolling checklist” a last verification of two extremely important items.  I, for one, know that the “INSTRUCTORS’ ROLLING CHECKLIST” has helped me be a safer flight instructor.


Fly Safely,



Frank Reid


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