Why is it that so many pilots seem to neglect to remove the control lock before takeoff? I just don’t get it. This is the one thing that’s 100% guaranteed to kill you in an aircraft.
Take, for example, this DeHavilland DH4 Caribou. In 1992, this aircraft was being used as a testbed for the Pratt & Whitney PT-6 turboprop conversion. The pilots failed to remove the control lock before a flight, with predictable results.
It is supposed to be physically impossible to advance the throttles with the lock on. But this aircraft was being modified and was operating in the restricted category. The throttle quadrant was not properly rigged to accommodate the throttle levers for the turbine engines. Three people were on board; two test pilots and an engineer.
These sorts of accidents are especially noteworthy when you consider that it took more than just a lazy preflight. The pilot(s) also had to ignore the control check, fail to see the lock installed, and neglect to put in any sort of crosswind correction during taxi. They’d also have to exhibit a general lack of checklist discipline. In fact, they’d have to basically not touch the controls at all until rotation.
For those of you who are not pilots, the control lock is usually painted red, very visible, and located in the cockpit right in front of the pilot.
(hat tip: John Pappas at Dreamflight)