Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mnemonics and Acroynms

Mnemonics and acronyms – those little cryptic collections of letters and words that help us remember things. As pilots we certainly collect more than our share of them, and we all have our favorites that we tend to use, and teach. Some of my favorites include the following. They are not listed in any order or preference – just as I happen to think of them.

GUMP, BGUMP, BCGUMP, or BCCGUMP -- all variations of the same thing. Generally used as a pre-landing checklist, the letters stand for the following:

  • B – electric boost pump.
  • C – carb heat
  • C – cowl flaps
  • G – gas on the fullest (or correct) tank
  • U – undercarriage (gear)
  • M – mixture
  • P – prop

Red-Blue-Green -- this is the checklist I use on short final.

  • Red – mixtures should be forward
  • Blue – props should be forward
  • Green – gear had better be down

IMSAFE -- used for a pilot checklist. Are you safe to fly this particular day?

  • I – illness. You don’t need to be flying if you are sick. Go home and find your couch!
  • M – medication. Are you taking any medications, prescription or OTC, that would make you unsafe? Cold medications often make you sleepy, and a sleepy pilot is definitely not a safe pilot.
  • S – stress. Are you under stress or an emotionally draining situation? If so, you don’t belong in an airplane.
  • A – alcohol. No explanation needed. Alcohol and planes (and cars) don’t mix well.
  • F – fatigue. Are you tired and worn out? If so, you definitely do not belong in a plane.
  • E – eating. Have you eaten anything lately? A candy bar and a cup of coffee do not constitute a decent meal.

I once had a student pilot cancel her solo long cross-country. She got all the way out to the run up area and then taxied back in. When she called me to tell me she had cancelled, she cited the IMSAFE checklist. She was going through a messy divorce and decided she was definitely not safe. Needless to say, I commended her highly on her decision.

ABCD -- used for emergency procedures in case of engine failure in a single-engine plane at altitude.

  • A – airspeed. Trim for best glide. In a lot of trainer aircraft, this may be close to full nose-up trim.
  • B – best place to land. Pick out a landing spot and head for it. If you get there and you are high, you can spiral down.
  • C – checklist. If time permits, turn to the emergency section of the checklist to try to restart the engine. Otherwise use a flow method of checking critical items. Primer, boost pump, switch fuel tanks, carb heat or alternate air, mags (try one or the other).
  • D – dialogue. If you are talking to a controller, let them know you have a problem. Otherwise go to 121.5 and tell anyone within reception range that you have a problem. And if time permits, squawk 7700 on your transponder. But above all, fly the airplane.

Pitch-Full-Clean-Blue-Identify-Verify-Feather -- pre-takeoff checklist for multi-engine pilots. Treat every takeoff in a twin as “this is the day I am going to lose an engine on takeoff or climb out”. Review your emergency procedures before every takeoff. This particular set is for actions to be taken in the event of an engine failure on climb out after the gear has been retracted.

  • Pitch – pitch for the horizon, because your airspeed is going to bleed off at an alarming rate. Pitching for the horizon will preserve that vital airspeed and put you roughly in the vicinity of blue line (Vyse).
  • Full – make sure everything is full forward, mixtures, props, throttles.
  • Clean – verify you are clean, both gear and flaps retracted
  • Blue – put your airspeed right on blue line (Vyse), the airspeed for best single-engine climb performance. But just remember, there is nothing that says a light twin has to climb on a single-engine. However Vyse will at least minimize your rate of descent.
  • Identify – identify which engine has failed. Most multi-engine pilots are taught the “dead foot dead engine” technique. If you set your heading bug to runway heading and then use rudder to maintain the extended centerline, your “dead” foot will indicate the dead engine. Another clue is to use the turn coordinator – step on the high wing. The plane wants to yaw towards the dead engine, so stepping on the high wing identifies which engine has failed.
  • Verify – verify that you have correctly identified the dead engine by retarding the throttle for that engine. You don’t want to shut down your only remaining good engine!
  • Feather – close to the ground and fighting for altitude, that windmilling prop needs to be feathered. A windmilling prop creates an enormous loss of mechanical energy due to it forcing the crankshaft to rotate, which it turn causes pistons to move, etc. So get rid of that energy drain by feathering the prop.

Then climb to gain some altitude and come back for a landing. This in itself presents a dilemma. Climbing straight ahead is best for gaining altitude, but at the same time it is taking you farther and farther away from the runway. What is the best choice? Your decision. You can safely turn, even into the dead engine, but make it a very gentle bank and watch that airspeed.

PARE -- spin recovery. Although you may have not gone through spin training, you can’t get a Private Pilot license without at least having learned the situations that can lead to an unintended spin and how to recover from it, should it happen.

  • P – power to idle
  • A – ailerons neutral
  • R – rudder opposite
  • E – elevator forward

In most training aircraft it also works to just take hands and feet off the controls, and the plane will generally recover by itself. But you should remember the steps in case it doesn’t. If the situation presents itself, I strongly encourage you to take spin training. No amount of talking about entry and recovery can prepare you for the shock that occurs on your first up close and personal encounter with a spin.

ANDS -- this is another one all primary students learn about the behavior of the mag compass.

  • AN – acceleration will show a turn towards the north
  • DS – deceleration will show a turn towards the south

The 5 T’s – Turn, Time, Twist, Throttle, Talk -- Taught to generations of instrument students, it details the actions to take at various points in an approach or entry into holding. Not all of the T’s will be needed at every point, but running through the list will save you from an embarrassing omission.

  • Turn – turn to the desired heading. You may need to turn to an intercept heading to get on the desired radial or bearing.
  • Time – start your timer, if needed.
  • Twist – twist the OBS to the proper setting, either required radial or the reciprocal to eliminate reverse sensing.
  • Throttle – reduce your airspeed
  • Talk – if asked to report, do so.

TITS -- the mammary gland check, used to set a navigation radio and not forget something critical while doing so.

  • T – tune in the correct frequency
  • I – identify the VOR or NDB. That Morse code is there for a reason, so use it to make sure you have tuned in a properly working VOR or NDB.
  • T – twist the OBS to the correct setting
  • S – select the correct source, GPS or land-based VOR. Since the advent of GPS, the most common installation relies on a single VOR head to display either GPS information or VOR information. Make sure you know what is driving the VOR display.

One of the most common mistakes I see, as an instrument instructor, is failure to select the proper source. Some GPS units will switch from GPS to VLOC if the active frequency is a localizer, but don’t depend on the box to do it for you. You are PIC in the airplane, not the GPS, so make sure the signals driving the VOR display are coming from the desired source.

Stuff Out -- Vs and Vso, how to remember which is which.

  • Vso – “stuff out”, meaning gear and flaps, so Vso is stall speed in the landing configuration.

TOMATOFLAMS -- aid to remembering day VFR required instrumentation and equipment.

  • T – tachometer
  • O – oil pressure
  • M – mag compass
  • A – airspeed indicator
  • T – temperature gauge for each liquid cooled engine
  • O – oil temperature for each air cooled engine
  • F – fuel gauge for each fuel tank
  • L – landing gear position indicator
  • A – altimeter
  • M – manifold pressure gauge
  • S – seat belts

FLAPS -- aid to remembering night VFR required instrumentation and equipment, in addition to TOMATOFLAMS.

  • Fuses – spare set of fuses. Planes now mostly have circuit breakers.
  • L – landing light if operated for hire
  • A – anti-collision light
  • P – position lights
  • S – source of electrical power

“There is no more red port wine left” -- how to remember the position lights.

  • For those of you who are not sailors (which includes me), it’s one way of remembering that the red position light is on the left wing.

WRITMIM -- aid to set-up for an instrument approach

  • W – weather, ATIS or AWOS
  • R – radios set-up, both com and nav, active and stand-by
  • I – instruments, check both altimeter setting and DG
  • T – figure out time from FAF to MAP
  • M – missed approach point, make sure you know how it is to be identified
  • I – inbound heading, from FAF to MAP
  • M – minimum altitude, DH or MDA

“BLT with mayo, fries and a coke” -- created and used by one of my primary students, it was his method of doing a pre-takeoff check or a pre-landing check. He would also use it as a post-landing check. He was learning to fly in a Cherokee.

  • B – boost pump on or off
  • L – landing light on or off
  • T – transponder on ALT or stand-by
  • Mayo – mixture, either rich or leaned
  • Fries – flaps, either extended or retracted
  • Coke – carb heat, either on or off

These are some of the countless acronyms that are used by pilots. Do you have some favorites that aren’t listed here? Feel free to share them. It would both a lot of fun and informative to keep expanding this list.


CApilot said...

Before take off checklist
Action(carb heat in, mixture set)

Dustin said...

If I remember correctly TomatoFlames should have another A in it for Anti collision light

Anonymous said...

- prelanding checklist in a glider

Undercarriage (down)
Speed (approach speed)
Trim (trim for approach speed)
Airbrakes (unlock and check function)
Look (at your landing area and surrounding airspace)
Land (on your intended touchdown spot)

Alexander said...

The BLT thing is useful. I bet it was "borrowed" from the scuba diver's checklist mnemonic "Burger with relish and fries" which stand for BCD, Weights, Regulator, Air, Fins.

Sridhar Chandrasekaran said...

we both share common interest. I coin mnemonics for soft skill training and behavioral skills

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Anonymous said...

Mary Has Really Big Monstrous Boods


Magnetic Heading + Relative Bearing = Magnetic Bearing

Anonymous said...

I was searching for a mem. aid and it is onthe tip of my tng. I am a CFI, AGI, IGI, and B.S. Aviation (I have a hard time feeding my family LOL).

There was a before T/O I can't remember, but it was like GUMPS. I am only posting as the Red/Left light color in this page has a twin: Red has 3 letters and right has 5, Green has 5 and left has 4. Neither is better nor wores, but if your a number person here it is.

Now just as C.R.A.F.T. for you IFR people is, please help me remember the before take off in a light single as it is driving me nuts.

(CRAFT = Clearance Route Altitude Frequency (departure control) Transponder)

Like S.L.I.M.

Switches, Lean, Ignition, Master.

What is the before T/O I'm going nuts.... LOL

DrDelcoIT@a0l c0m

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Anonymous said...

RAMMI shut down acronym

bill said...

"Red Right Returning" for remembering the NAV lights. Also works for navigating a channel.

Anonymous said...

In tomatoflams you're missing an A for anti collision lights for aircraft certified after March 11, 1996
And the E for your ELT

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Anonymous said...

Action also includes checking final approach for trafic.

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Anonymous said...

I learnt BUMPF for Brakes, Undercarriage, Mixture, Pitch, Flaps as pre-landing checklist