Starting an aircraft is easy. It’s a little more complex than starting a car, but not by much. You’ll soon have the process down and do it smoothly in a matter of seconds. Here’s a typical list:
- Adjust seat, and latch your seatbelts.
- Test the brakes and press them down. If your craft has a parking brake, move it to the “off” position.
- Make sure all circuit breakers or fuses are in place and electrical equipment is off.
- Move the fuel tank selector valve(s) to the correct position for takeoff.
- If your engine is equipped with a manual primer, prime the engine per the operating handbook (typically two to five pushes on the primer for cold engines), then lock the primer. Some airplanes use an electric primer and some do not use a primer at all.
- Push the carburetor heater, if your airplane has one, all the way in (cold).
- Place the throttle to the specified starting position, typically in a fraction of an inch.
- If a mixture control is installed, set it to the correct position for starting. After starting, the mixture control might have to be adjusted for density altitude.
- Turn the master switch to “on.”
- Turn the ignition switch to “start” and release once the engine starts (just like on a car). If your craft doesn’t have a starter you’ll need someone to turn the prop for you; make sure it’s someone who knows how to do it safely. Alternately, some older aircraft have a pull starter.
- Check the oil pressure to make sure it’s within the green range within 30 seconds; if not, shut down the engine and investigate.
- Check the ammeter for proper operation if your airplane has a generating system.
- Turn on the anticollision light and radio if your airplane has this equipment.
- Verify that flaps, if equipped, are up.
Pressure altitude is what the altimeter reads when the pressure is set to 29.92 inches of mercury. Density altitude is the pressure altitude corrected for nonstandard conditions such as high or low temperature. Density altitude is also known as performance altitude, or the altitude at which the plane thinks it is flying at. For example, a high density altitude can make an aircraft think it is taking off from a high altitude airport and require a longer runway. Your plane’s operating handbook will give you more specifics.
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide