While I usually aim to provide thought-provoking content, rich with information, details and explanation, there are also some topics that don’t require quite as much… Basically, some simple concepts I learned by being “dumb.” Now I can share these for your benefit too… Every now and they I’ll be mixing in some of these concepts, which essentially are things, learned over years and years of flying and teaching students how to fly.
Today’s dumb thing I have done more than once (and will probably do again) is a no-brainer until you forget, then it’s a smack-the-forehead kind of offense that will leave you shaking your head…
Like many pilots I organize the cockpit of my aircraft before doing the thorough preflight. This runs the risk of finding an issue on the preflight and having organized the cockpit for nothing, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take, as it is very rare that something major that can’t be fixed easily, prevents me from flying.
Making it easy upon entering the plane, I plug in my headsets (see “The Zulu & Lightspeed go the Extra Mile!” posted here on ReviewBeforeFlight back in February 2014 for more on headsets) and foolishly (far too often) leave them on the glare shield. During the winter this is a good idea. Typically the ear seals are cold and leaving them on the glare shield allows solar heating to warm them up for me… Handy trick.
Then comes springtime, it gets warm quickly and I forget it’s time to make the adjustment. So, I set everything up in the cockpit and then complete a preflight inspection, all the while the warm spring/summer sun is beating down on the windshield. While my headset sits there with the ear seals baking to perfection, as if they were some chocolate chip cookies in the oven that is… But they aren’t tasty delicious treats; they are the “comfy” part of the headset that sits on my head, around my ears.
The only problem is that following the preflight inspection and aircraft start up, the headsets are incredibly warm and that is incredibly uncomfortable for a few minutes… This can go past a few minutes of “uncomfortable-ness” or a few minutes of taxiing around with your headsets in your lap (in the shade) while they cool down. If you forget to take proper precautions and leave your headset on the glare shield while you enjoy the fine airport eatery you are visiting, when you return you may even find the ear- seals damaged, depending on the gel insides…
This seems like common sense, and it is, until you forget… So take my advice, whether it is for a preflight, while you are exploring a new airport, getting a bite to eat at the airport restaurant or in between flights, make sure that you leave your headset on the floor of the cockpit, out of direct sunlight. This will keep them from being cooked to perfection and keeps them out of eyesight of the sticky-hands airport visitor parked next to you too!
Author’s note: The same goes for sunglasses, the metal frames of my RayBan sunglasses are much less comfortable when they are “preheated” before flight!
-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9