It seems hard to believe these days, but there was a time when pilots simply memorized everything and hopped in the airplane and flew. There are records of written instructions as early as 1918 (for the Curtis NH-4 Jenny) but no widespread "do list" that gave pilots step-by-step procedures on how to do their jobs. The crash of Boeing Model 299 changed all that.
Before we get started, however, a word about the pilots of this particular mishap. They were the best of the Army Air Corps and if forgetting a gust lock seems to be an overgiveable oversight, it was understandable back then. It isn't today because we have checklists. If you want to read about an unforgiveable gust lock incident, see: Gulfstream IV N121JM. The pilots of Boeing Model 299 didn't have that luxury.
What follows are quotes from the sources listed below, as well as my comments in orange. Most of it comes from Walter J. Boyne's excellent article. There is much to be learned here, and I've done my best here: Checklist Philosophy.
Everything here is from the references shown below, with a few comments in an alternate color.
Photo: Boeing Model 299 Crash, 30 Oct 1935, USAF Photo
[Boyne, p. 53]
[Mellinger, p. 81]
[Boyne, p. 54]
[Boyne, p. 54] The board stated that—due to the size of the airplane and the inherent design of the control system—it was improbable that any pilot, taking off under the same conditions, would discover the locked controls until it was too late to prevent a crash. Ordinarily, pilots make checks of their movement as a precaution, but apparently this did not occur.
[Boyne, pp. 54-55]
[Mellinger, p. 81]
12,730 B-17s were to be produced.
Boyne, Walter J., "The Checklist," Air Force Magazine, August 2013, pp. 52 - 56.
Mellinger, Phillip S., "When the Fortress Went Down," Air Force Magazine, October 2004, pp. 78 - 82.
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