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The 9 Worst Things You Can Do In An Airplane


There are a lot of things you do (or don't do) that can put your flight at risk. Here are 9 of the most common ones that cause accidents:

1) Skip your weather briefing

Weather related accidents account for over 25% of all general aviation fatalities. It's worth spending a few minutes to get a briefing online or over the phone. Not to mention it's required by the FARs.


2) Forget to check NOTAMs and TFRs

NOTAMs, and especially TFRs, are more common than they've ever been. Check them, or risk getting escorted by an F-16. (we have an app to help you read them too!)

3) Don't calculate your weight and balance

Just because your airplane can take off overweight, doesn't mean you should. Maximum gross weight is a structural limitation, and there have been countless in-flight breakups that resulted from overweight aircraft encountering turbulence.


4) Forget to calculate your performance

This video pretty much sums it up.

5) Don't plan your fuel

According to the NTSB, fuel starvation is the #7 reason for fatal accidents.


6) Don't plan a diversion airport

Weather can change in a hurry no matter where you are. Make sure you have enough gas, and a reasonable alternate, before you go.


7) Don't do a thorough pre-flight

Powerplant failure is the #3 killer in general aviation. Make sure everything is tight under the cowling, and that you don't have contaminated fuel.


8) Skip setting up your cockpit before taking off

The best place to setup your cockpit, avionics, and anything else you need in flight (oxygen, etc.) is on the ramp, not in the air. Distracted flying can kill you even quicker than distracted driving.


9) Rush yourself

As the saying goes, "it's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground." Airplanes don't need to take off, but they do need to land once they're airborne. Remember that, and you'll be just fine.


Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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