The beauty of mnemonic devices is that they allow the tail wheel, seaplane or helicopter pilot do a checklist without the use of both hands.  While there are checklist purists out there who may disagree with my methods, let me offer this:  If you fly many different aircraft, whose checklists can be absent, inappropriate, out of date, etc. it is best to develop your own.  A good way to build that base, for everything from a J-3 Cub up to t Beech 18, is to use, what I’ll term, “the classics.”  CIGAR TIPS and GUMPS (more on GUMPS in another post.)

I first learned CIGAR TIPS shortly after being introduced to the Cessna 185. I flew one for the Quebec Labrador Foundation and another one for my company.  One was fuel injected, the other carbureted.  One had hydraulic wheel skis, the other wheel penetrating “fixed skis.”  The differences were subtle but many.

In teaching bush flying, one of the key precepts is being able to accomplish something while you are perhaps not yet buckled into your seat (you are taxiing away from the dock and still trying to keep it straight in the big wind, shortly after engine start.)

Fortunately I had great teachers.  Mike McKendry, of Greenville, ME, drilled into me something that has stayed with me since 1993: CIGAR TIPS or CCIGGARR TIPPS.  While this may feel like mouthful here is the abstract: Controls, circuit breakers, instruments, gas, gauges, avionics, radios, run-up, trim, interior, pumps, props, seat belts.)

More fully below here:

C is for controls and circuit breakers – move the controls to their limit and check for proper and free movement … then run your hand over all circuit breakers and make sure none have popped or are “out.”
I is for Instruments – flight instruments, and all of them.  Look at the “6 pack” of flight instruments (AH, altimeter, DG, turn coordinator, airspeed, and VSI).  Be sure they are all telling you things that make sense given that you’ve just fired up the engine and you are now warming up and preparing for take off.
G is for Gas and Gauges.  Gas – which tank are you on? Why? etc. (Typically be on fullest tank or “Both L&R”)  Gauges – check all the engine gauges.  Are pressure and temps where they should be given that it is cold and it is the first start of the day?
A is for Avionics.  If you are departing IFR, take a big break and zen moment and make sure everything is set for the departure, first fix, etc.
is for Radios and Run-up.  Confirm all the upcoming frequencies you’ll need and set them.  Then do the run-up so that you can satisfactorily check, the mags, carb heat (if not fuel injected – or alternate air if it is), and cycle the prop governor.
is for trim and means anything that affects the trim – this can be the trim wheel itself, flaps and possibly other stuff (like cowl flaps.)
is for interior.  Make sure that the cabin is looking respectable and does not have a loose unrestrained anvil, barrel of avgas or whatever else you might be shlepping today.
is for props.  Make sure the RPM is set for take off – typically this means the prop levers are full forward.
is for pumps.  Boost pumps (in aircraft that have them, typically need to be on for take off.  Make sure the boost pumps are on.)
is for seat belts and can also be “secure.”  Just take another gander and make sure that the people and things are all strapped in.
That’s all for now.  Feel free to leave comments on how to improve this post.

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