Flying Tigers

A pre-flight checklist for a J-3 Piper Cub

Since there's no Pilot Operating Handbook for the early Cubs, it follows that there's no standard pre-flight check list. If you run into an FAA examiner, you may be challenged to do your pre-flight from a written checklist, and if your airport's checklist is as daunting as the one at 7B3, you may prefer to create your own. Here's the one I used, printed on the front and back of a 3x5-inch file card:

J3/L4 checklist (front)

Walk around: fabric & tiedowns

Cockpit: controls free & correct
- seatbelts secure
- ignition off
- trim neutral
- altimeter 93 ft
- primer closed & locked
- carb heat off
- gascolator: drain & check

Starboard: bungee cord taut
- landing gear attachments secure
- no hydraulic fluid leak
- brake disc & pad functional
- tire inflated, good condition
- strut attachments, leading edge
- spar flex
- aileron free; attachments & cable
- belly fabric in good condition

Tail: trim mechanism secure
- starboard flying wires & attachments secure
- rudder attachments secure
- steering springs, chains, leaf spring, tailwheel
- port flying wires & attachments secure

J3/L4 checklist (back)

Port: belly fabric in good condition
- aileron free; attachments & cable
- spar flex
- wing strut attachments, leading edge
- pitot tube
- tire inflated, secure, in good condition
- brake disc & pad functional
- no hydraulic fluid leak
- landing gear attachments secure
- bungee cord taut

Engine: gascolator, drain & check
- undersite & port cowling pins secure
- port ignition harness secure
- propeller secure, no cracks or dents
- ignition harness & intakes seen from front
- starboard ignition harness secure
- oil level at 3-4 quarts; cap secure
- no significant oil leaks
- starboard cowling pins secure
- fuel tank full; cap secure


That last item is there in case the inspector asks for your pre-takeoff checklist. If you don't know the acronym, here it is. The pilot has taxied to a point abreast of where a landing aircraft would touch down; the Cub is clear of the runway and facing downwind.

C for Controls free and correct (the customary H)
I for Instruments correct (I read them aloud from port to starboard)
G for Gasoline correct (the cork is afloat)
A for Attitude correct (the trim is neutral)
R for Runup (mag check)
S for Safety (seatbelts fastened, pattern clear, runway clear)

After checking that seatbelts are secure, the pilot taxis onto the active while scanning the landing pattern to starboard and then the runway to port, before turning upwind and advancing the throttle for takeoff.

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Taildragger Tales

Return to the front page.

Other websites: the Warbird's Forum | Daniel Ford's books | Facebook | Sail Alaska's coast | Reading Proust

Posted September 2019. Websites © 1997-2019 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved. This site sets no cookies, but the Mailchimp sign-up service does. So does Amazon if you click through to that store.