After entering the airplane, the pilot should first ensure that all necessary equipment, documents, and navigation charts are aboard. All too often a flight is begun before it is realized that certain essentials have been left behind. A check should be made for the Airworthiness Certificate, Registration Certificate, operating limitations, weight and balance data, and, if equipped with radio transmitter, the airplane's FCC Radio Station License. Of course, the pilot must also have valid FAA pilot and medical certificates and an FCC radiotelephone operator's permit.
If a cross-country flight is contemplated, a navigation computer and appropriate navigation charts, as well as a pencil and note pad should be aboard. The latter two articles are useful, even on local flights, for jotting down pertinent weather information and ATC clearances in certain terminal areas.
Regardless of what materials are to be used, they should be neatly arranged and organized in a manner that makes them readily available for use by the pilot. The cockpit or cabin should be checked for loose articles which might be tossed about if turbulence is encountered. All pilots should form the habit of "good housekeeping"; in the long run, it will pay off (as it does for professional pilots) in safe and efficient flying.
On each flight the pilot should be seated in the same position. If the seat is adjustable, it should be moved so that the pilot's knees are slightly bent and the balls of the feet placed on the rudder pedals. This will allow full movement of the pedals whenever necessary.
The pilot must be able to see inside and outside references without straining. Poor vision not only causes apprehension and confusion, but actually presents a hindrance to the control of the airplane. If the seat is not adjustable, cushions should be used to provide proper seating, but in their use, comfort and ease of control must not be sacrificed.
When the pilot is comfortably seated, the seatbelt should
immediately be fastened and adjusted to a comfortably snug fit. This should
be accomplished even though the engine is only to be run up momentarily.
If the seat is adjustable, it is important to ensure that the seat is locked in position. Many accidents have occurred as the result of acceleration or deceleration during takeoffs or landings when the seat suddenly moved too close or so far away from the controls that the pilot was unable to maintain control of the airplane.