Pro Tip… Markers

While pursuing my MBA degree I studied a great deal about corporate and business leadership styles. I try to read books by successful leaders consistently looking for take-aways and one of the astounding things I’ve noticed is how many of their thoughts and lessons link directly to aviation or aviation concepts. Namely, being ahead, whether it means being ahead of the competition or the airplane, the lessons correlate completely!

In management I am a proponent of the school of thought that calls for asking someone to do something and then being surprised by their ingenuity rather than telling someone how to do something. In flying, I try to impart the techniques I have found to be safe and successful.

Let’s take my good friend and former student Peter as an example. Don’t worry I told Peter I was going to write about him…


Peter and I did a great deal of training together and he very successfully passed his check ride and has gone on to become and aircraft owner and racked up many hundreds of flight hours in the years since earning his pilot’s certificate. Every time I fly with Peter I remember the early days of his flight training and appreciate how hard he worked to learn to fly and how proficient of a pilot he has become.

When I visited him during my 2016 Christmas vacation in Massachusetts I noticed something that blew me away. It was something so simple yet so effective… Frankly, it was something that worked so well, yet something that never would have crossed my mind to do. Probably because I have never owned an airplane, but I flew the flight school aircraft where I taught for years so often you’d think I’d have done this or at least thought about it…

Upon inspecting the aircraft I noticed that the tire pressure was low in the right main gear (I actually wrote about this HERE regarding tire pressure during cold weather months). Peter’s Cherokee has wheel pants that are part of a STOL kit (which is hugely effective). Peter grabbed the air compressor and got on the ground, I offered to push the airplane until he could see the valve stem and he immediately said, “No need”.

I thought, wow that was lucky… Then he pointed out the mark he added to the tire. Using a white marker Peter added a small mark on the tire of his airplane so that he could push the airplane and see where exactly to stop and have access to the valve stem, instead of having to push, get down and check, get up and push, and so on and so forth when he was by himself. I was very impressed. Mainly because that’s something that had never crossed my mind. It was so simple, so effective, I was shocked I’never thought of it or heard of anyone else doing it.

But that wasn’t it! In the airplane Peter used the primer during the start up procedures, I was shocked at how easy he unlocked the manual primer and then secured it. He had used  black marker to make a smilier mark on the face of the primer lever to show the proper alignment to open and close the primer.


This is something so many pilots, including myself, have struggled with mightily from time to time. Again, such a simple idea that allows pilots to avoid something that is regularly annoying. So add some markers and make your life easier! it’s a real pro tip from a real pro! Thanks Peter!

-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9


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