Key points:
  • There is much to remember 
  • Humans can be fallible
  • Checklists are a great help


  • Make sure the tail dolly is removed before getting into the glider
  • Checklists can help a pilot be aware of necessary items; they must not become a clockwork substitute for them

There is plenty of advice available to pilots, notably the manufacturer’s Flight Manual, but very few people can be sure of remembering it all. Checklists are an essential safety measure: a way of making sure that your glider is configured appropriately each stage of flight; a way of remembering to check that things are working properly and that you haven’t forgotten anything. It is best to go through them by calling every item and response aloud, even when flying alone. Checking thoroughly and confirming key points out loud helps ensure that you will not doubt yourself later.

For example, you don’t want to ask yourself Did I lower my landing gear? at a critical stage of the landing.

Each glider has its own Flight Manual with information specific to that type and any checklists that the manufacturer recommends. It should be studied before flying a new type for the first time.

Many pilots, however, are fortunate enough to fly a range of different gliders. For these, the BGA offers generic checklists that either cover, or at least help you remember the actions needed. It is useful to learn these checklists by heart. Different countries use different generic checklists. Usually someone will have come up with a useful mnemonic (remembering technique) to memorize the items.

Item (aloud) Action (action) Response (aloud) 
Controls Move the stick side-to-side, forward and back & all round Rudder pedals each fully forward
All: full movement in correct direction with no obstructions (direction is best checked before getting in)
Full and free in the correct direction
Ballast Check if any is needed; consider water ballast.
If needed: correct amount and secure.
If not: none fitted (best checked before getting in)
Ballast checked; none needed, or Ballast checked; xxKg is secure


Check that straps have been fastened and tightened

Instructor, too


All functioning correctly; no cracks or broken glass

FLARM:TX light on

Altimeter: set as required

Variometer: volume

Radio: channel; volume; squelch

Transponder: code; mode

Set and checked
Flaps Check full and free
Set for take-off

Set or none

Trim Check full and free
Set for take-off (usually slightly forward of neutral)

Check full and free

Locked closed

Checked, closed and locked
Eventualities Mentally prepare your actions in the event of a wing drop during take off or launch failure
(best briefed/ discussed/ considered before getting in)
As briefed
Canopy Check canopy closed and locked by applying upward force on the frame (not the glass or DV Panel). Closed and locked


Before entering the circuit for landing, you should complete the following checklist.

Item (aloud) Action (action) Response (aloud)
Water Check ballast has been dumped Dumped
Undercarriage (if any) Check locked down Down and locked
Loose articles Check no loose articles; straps tight Nothing loose; straps tight
Flaps (if any) Check set as required Set
Before doing an exercise that involves large speed and altitude changes, or when you are about to fly aerobatic manoeuvres, perform the checklist below. It’s a good practice to run the pre-manoeuvring checklist on the ground before you take off, with the checklist in the air summarizing what you’ve already done and serving as an opportunity to ask: what has changed?

Item (aloud)

Action (action)

Response (aloud)

Height Sufficient to perform your exercise and get back to your airfield Checked
 Airframe  Review any necessary limitations As required 
Straps Tighten straps for the exercise. Tight 
Security Check no loose articles Nothing loose
Engine (if any) Set engine as required Set / Not applicable 
Location Check your position and that it is appropriate Checked
Lookout Turn so that you can see below and all around (but not so that gliders looking for lift join you) All clear

Cockpits vary – this is typical – but these colours are standard

Lever Colour Operating direction
1. Cable release Yellow Pull to release the cable or tow rope
2. Air brake lever Blue Pull to extend the airbrakes
3. Trim lever Green

Pull -> nose up,

push -> nose down

4. Canopy locking  White* As indicated by the associated placard
5. Canopy emergency jettison lever Red As indicated by the associated placard
6. Rudder pedal adjustment lever Black/Grey Pull to unlock the rudder pedals
Flap and landing gear (not shown here) Black/Grey  
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