An anonymous forum to allow you to share those moments in flying that caused you concern. You can post without registering a username, registered users can log out to post
By Anon
#1458752
After my last flight I begin to question whether I really should allow myself to continue flying.

I'm going to break this down into the holes I was trying to align....

1. Due to time requirements at my destination airfield I elected to refuel on the return journey. My calculations (which now have to be questioned) determined that strictly speaking we would not require fuel but I prefer to have a reasonable amount left in the tank when the aircraft is returned to the airfield.
2. A technical issue (eventually confirmed as a non-issue) discovered at the end of the outbound flight resulted in me failing to complete my normal shut-down process properly and I left the battery master switch on (I even returned to the aircraft to collect my wallet and still didn't notice this)
3. On returning to the aircraft for the return flight I performed basic checks to find that there was a securing missing on the engine inspection flap so I was diverted from my normal activities while I checked that the remaining securing would be sufficient.
4. Once into the cockpit I realised the master switch was still on and despite my hopes ,the battery had insufficient charge to swing the prop - so I needed assistance of airfield personnel to start the aircraft. This caused a delay to our departure and I had been warned by the airfield operator that I needed to depart by a certain time due to other events that were going on.
5. Despite undertaking a visual check of the tanks I really did not register the low fuel state for the return flight. I had even informed my passenger before the commencement of the first flight that I may need to divert for fuel either on the outbound or return flight. However I was so focussed on the battery issue and a desire to not require further assistance with starting that I elected to continue to my destination.
6. On returning to my home airfield, the runway was occupied with a tractor. I was so focussed on what I was going to do if he did not vacate the runway in time that I failed to complete my landing checks properly.

Fortunately - the tractor did vacate
Fortunately - I didn't need to go around
Fortunately - the failure to complete the landing checks properly didn't result in other problems.
Fortunately - there was enough fuel left in the tanks for about 15 mins flight
Fortunately - I'm still here

I now understand how pilot's who are normally very careful in their preparation and intentions can bit by bit manage to line up the holes in that cheese. I hope I can stop it happening another time, but it does make me question my decision making capability.
#1458759
All good learning material, you do these things, you get a bit sweaty about fuel, you were ok, you won't do it again, you will be a safer pilot because of it, why waste it by giving up?
Once you have left the master switch on once, you become paranoid about it, even to the extent of taking the aircraft cover off again to check. Best cure for that is to always leave the beacon switch on, which allows you to check what you did with the battery master from distance. You can even check as you drive away.
#1458812
We all of us, for whatever reason, miss things from time to time and then can become preoccupied by them once discovered. It's human nature. Further, it's in a pilot's nature to be precise about everything and, being our own worst critics, to beat ourselves up over the slightest oversight. Add to this the resulting consequences of your oversight and you end up even more preoccupied with the potential to miss yet more detail. Perfectly natural, and while it would be nice to be able to say, "Silly sod, what'd I do that for?" and ponder it later, for most of us it doesn't work like that.

The best cure for it is the next flight, which goes perfectly well and has you thinking yeah, I'm ok at this.

As Irv says, you'll in all likelihood never do it again so will have learned from it. Also, the tip about leaving the beacon permanently on is a good one, both as a potential battery saver and as a warning to others that the prop could become live at any moment.
#1459487
I had a similar sort of thing last weekend - went out to do a 'dummy run' with my PP veteran, I arrived a bit early, so as is my custom put the pitot cover on and the cowl plugs in while waiting.

When the veteran arrived, I got preoccupied on working out whether we could fit his wheelchair in and how to get him in etc, that we ended up sat in the aircraft, with the plugs and cover still in/on. I hope I'd have caught this when I started going through my startup checklist as I have an item specifically for it, but will never know as before I got there the veteran's companion pointed it out, leaving me feeling rather foolish and having to ask her to remove them (being a PA28 to get out I'd have had to get the veteran out again etc)...