Boeing and the Checklist

In 1930s, Boeing was successful in offering their Model 299 to the US Army Air Corps, winning against Martin’s Model 146 and Douglas’ DB-1 aircraft. On the fateful day of 30 October 1935, the aircraft stalled during climb after take off. The test flight crew consisted of Major Ployer Hill and Lieutenant Donald Putt, as pilot and co-pilot, respectively. The others on board were Boeing’s Chief Test Pilot Leslie Tower; CW Benton, a Boeing technician; and Henry Igo, representative of  Pratt and Whitney, the engine manufacturer. The pilot and chief test pilot perished later due to the injuries sustained.

The investigation into the cause of the accident found that the captain did not release the elevator lock prior to take off, resulting in a fatal stall. This was attributed to ‘Pilot Error‘.

This tragic loss of life resulted in development of the first checklists for the pilot to ensure that they sequentially follow each step in each vital phase of flight: take-off, in-flight, pre- and post-landing. Read on the complete history of this fascinating birth of checklist as the first vital step to prevent human error in aviation.

Acknowledgement: This entry appears courtesy website “Flight Service History” dedicated to the history of the FAA Fight Service Station. Grateful thanks to my friend Mahesh for providing this link. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons