A checklist by any other name

Perhaps it is too many years of running checklists in airplanes.  Perhaps it is my failing memory.  These days I find it hard to get out of the door in the morning without a checklist.  Perhaps it is just the paralyzing fear of finding one’s self half-way around the world without a good book.

25 pounds? Whom are we kidding?
25 pounds? Whom are we kidding?

My usual means of packing for a trip is to open the trunk of the car or the door of the airplane and start throwing things in until I can barely close the lid, which typically finds me a long way from home with sweaters in July, too many pairs of shoes, and no toothbrush.  Not exactly a system.  I also find it difficult to imagine that the weather where I am going is that much different from the weather in my yard, whether I am going to Alaska in the summer, Boston in the winter, or Florida any time.  Given that we will be in the British Isles and northern Europe initially, later in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and eventually the Far East and finally in Australia in autumn there, the weather is variable at best, runs the gamut at worst.  Hard to know how to pack, but when the weight limit is 25 pounds and a good half of that will be the devices and chargers that we seem to think are necessary in today’s world, the choices become either more simple or more complicated, depending on one’s point of view.

I do take some comfort out of the fact, as pointed out to me by a friend, that I pretty much dress the same year around.  I’m hot in the summer, cold in the winter, but comfortable most of the time.  And even more comfort in the fact that most of the planning has been done, most of the critical items have been gathered and are in place in the airplane – most all of it done by Adam over months of careful planning.

The really interesting part has been the equipping of the airplane, the long discussions of max range and max endurance and lift over drag and lean-of-peak operations and adjustments for weight, which changes with every moment of flight, and altitude and winds.  The mathematics becomes complicated and math in an airplane is always problematic.  I have seen too many pilots with graduate degrees in applied math sit in an airplane and add three and three and get nine.  More on all that …should have kept better notes.

First cut at the basic paraphernalia looks like this:


File of important docs

Forms holder for charts docs etc.

Spare $12 watch

Small Lenovo X200 Thinkpad

Charger for above

Ipad & charger

Cell phone & charger

Four small memo pads

Old small, light Kodak digital camera

Charger for above

Business cards for Adam & George

Sunglasses and case

Spare eyeglasses and case

Backup Dual GNS 5870 GSP & USB charge cord

Small analog multimeter

Two small 1AA Cree flashlights

Small folding calculator

Two cables to repair HF radio

Two AC adapters for different national outlets


Aircrew ID badges & lanyard

1 legal pad

Signal mirror & whistle

Captain’s bars

Coffee thermos

Great circle flyers baggage tags

Packable day pack

Adam’s Medjet card


Total weight:  approx. 15 pounds  Time to saw the handle off of the toothbrush.


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