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Runup
2010-03-18

Runup

Use a run-up checklist. Always face the wind. (Engine cooling is the reason.) We are not teaching a flying career made only of C-150s. We should teach with the C-150 the procedures that will follow over to high performance aircraft. An efficient runup should take only a minute or two at most. When checking controls your thumb always points to the up aileron. Index with your finger how much throttle will give the desired RPM. Learn the sound/feel for 1700 and 800 to save time. An airplane is just a expensive to operate on the ground as in the air.

Check your controls with the 'thumbs up' technique and multiple head movements. The left thumb up always points to the up aileron and the head turn confirms both an up and down aileron. Elevators are confirmed up and down and rudder left and right.

The right hand remains on the throttle while the left locates and touches the ampere meter and suction. Touching the item on the checklist is an insurance confirmation for the observer. (examiner)) The power is indexed to 800 rpm by feel and sound. (Instructor covers tachometer.) Flight instruments and set and checked. A frequent error is in setting the heading indicator with the compass.

I teach indexes for throttle position. From idle at 800 rpm, the throttle held in the palm of the hand and the index finger moved back the length of a fingernail. Throttle is moved in until finger tip touches throttle clutch. This should give the 1700 rpm required for the magneto check. Repeat this exercise several times. Student should learn to do this by sound and feel. (I have had several instances where this kind of operational knowledge of position and sound has changed emergency into routine.) This indexing skill should be taught for both power settings and power reductions.

I present magneto checking as a smooth switching via count as 1-2, 1-2, 1,1 with the eyes focused on the tachometer to note rpm drop and difference. Some pilots tend to leave the engine operating on one magneto overly long. It only takes a moment to check. The hand moves to and pulls and pushes the carb heat while the eyes note drop when on and recovery when off. If, during runup, you should accidentally go to OFF fully retard the throttle before turning magnetos back on. This prevents after-firing that can and will damage the exhaust system. It will blow any carburetor ice out in an emergency, however.

Knowing the airport altitude is an additional aid to knowing the altimeter setting. The best altimeter setting is from an accurate copy of the ATIS information.

A good run-up should take only two or three minutes. Any longer is indicative of inefficiency or poor checklist techniques. Some pilots use a finger-count method to keep items in order. Others work systematically across the panel. Use whatever works best for you. Using 'cockpit' checklist is just about the worst thing you can do short of not using a list at all. Dry run the next radio call up procedures until they come out smoothly, accurately, and completely. Discuss the taxiing, clearing turn to be made to check for aircraft on base leg and climb out departure plan. No turn over 30 degrees should ever be made without both looking and saying "clear".

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