Jason Miller recently wrote a post for the Let’s Go Flying blog that showed the importance of why you should do a THOROUGH preflight exam – especially after a mechanic has worked on your aircraft. Specifically, he (just barely) found a rag left in the cowling. Jason the wrote that:
The humbling truth is … if this wasn’t my first time in this make and model … and it didn’t have retractable gear … I probably would not have seen this oil soaked rag, wrapped like perfect kindling around a motor that was about to see temperatures in excess of 240 degrees.
The rag was only noticeable when you were “flat on your back looking up through the open gear doors.” Moreover, a pilot would have had to have been looking for it as it was only clearly visible after the cowling was removed. Hence and from now on, Jason teaches his students that during any preflight exam:
“…make sure to look inside the cowling for rags … or wrenches … or anything else a mechanic might have accidentally left inside the cowling. … yes, you’d be surprised, it can happen”
(Not to mention bird or wasp nests or whatever else could show up if the aircraft has been sitting on the tarmac for awhile…).
Jason did not mention whether or not he had a private word with the mechanic who left the rag inside the aircraft… (We can only imagine what was said…)