IMSAFE Checklist

The IMSAFE acronym is really important for all pilots to follow as a self-check before taking flight. In my opinion, this is the ultimate test of whether I’m behaving as Pilot in Command or not. I’m categorizing this as Checklists, Health – because it really is a self-check on all the human factors we may be experiencing, and confirm if we’re compatible with flight right now.

There are numerous checklists to attend to, that other people can witness, but only the IMSAFE checklist can be discerned by ourselves.

IMSAFE stands for:

I – Illness. Is there any form of current illness that may deter from PIC duties? There is a reg for this — (14 CFR 61.53). The key is to meet the relative requirements of your medical certificate.

M – Medication. There is a reg for this in the same place – (14 CFR 61.53). Also, AOPA has a medication database to review at

S – Stress. This is a large topic, and I’ll write more articles on this over time. I’m a Certified Hypnotherapist, so can specifically talk to this topic.

A – Alcohol. There is a phrase, “8 hours from bottle to throttle”. I don’t really drink, so for me it’s more like 24 hours from bottle to throttle. There’s a reg for this at – (14 CFR 91.17). The focus typically is on drinking alcohol, but this addresses any form of drugs.

F – Fatigue. In general, this means getting enough sleep/rest. As a Certified Hypnotherapist, I can also talk more on this. If the subconscious mind doesn’t get enough rest to process everything in there, who knows what havoc that can play on the conscious mind.

E – Emotion. This is also a large topic, but if you’re under some form of negative emotion that is negatively impacting your thinking, how is that going to play while being a PIC of an aircraft? This is also an area I’m specializing in, which are all the Human Factors to consider, as it relates to aviation — Pilots, A&P Mechanics, everyone.

In practice, this would be a part of each flight, and reviewed prior to flight. Ideally with a pen mark checking off each item, and a signature. It can be logged with any paperwork you have. You could even do a quick post-flight debrief to document how you felt, what stuff came up to review, etc.

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