On October 30, 1935, a deadly airplane crash would forever change the future of aviation. Boeing was set to revolutionize the US Military, and the entire airline industry, by introducing the brand new Model 299, also known as the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. This flying marvel of technology was in development for 5 years. It had 4 engines, a central bomb bay, and gunner stations throughout the fuselage.
It was the most sophisticated airplane in aviation history.
Boeing spared no expense putting on an elaborate show the for U.S. Army Air Corps. After all, they were competing for a multi-million dollar bid that would help launch them into the multi-billion dollar aviation conglomerate Boeing is today.
Boeing and the U.S. Army Air Corps met at Wright Field, just northeast of Dayton, Ohio.
The Model 299 was piloted by Major Ployer P. Hill, U.S. Army Air Corps, and co-piloted by Lieutenant Donald Leander Putt.
Taking no chances, Beoing’s Chief Test Pilot Leslie R. Tower and Beoing mechanic C.W. Benton were also aboard the doomed plane.
Upon take off, the U.S. Army Air Corps and members of the Boeing corporation looked on with excitement and pride for the future of American aviation.
The aircraft sped down the runway, achieved perfect lift, began to climb, and within seconds, stalled, banked, and crashed into the field, as onlookers watched in horror.
Two people were killed onboard, including the pilot, Major Ployer P. Hill. The co-pilot and two others onboard were pulled from the burning wreckage, thus saving their lives.
An investigation found the airplane to be in perfect condition. No mechanical failure could be found that would have resulted in the deadly crash. Upon deeper investigation and eye witness reports, including the surviving co-pilot, it was determined that the flight crew had simply forgot to release the flight control gust locks. Thus causing the plane to nose dive into the ground, immediately after takeoff.
How could something so trivial be forgotten?
It was further determined that the airplane was “too complex” for man to fly. Technology, and the sheer amount of tasks required to safely takeoff in a modern day airplane had surpassed the limitations of the human memory.
In simpler terms, there were too many things to remember, even for the best pilots in world.
After the crash of the Model 299 on October 30, 1935, the Checklist was introduced by Boeing, as a permanent and mandatory tool, to be used by all pilots in the Boeing fleet.
After the checklist was introduced, Boeing was able to eventually sell the Model 299 to the U.S. Army Air Corps, where it flew for years without incident.
Today, you can’t takeoff or land in a commercial airplane without a mandatory checklists being used by your pilots. It doesn’t stop there; from the creation of each plane, to maintenance checks, to the flight attendants who assist with your inservice flight, checklists are mandatory through the airpline industry.
Countless lives saved by the most important plugin of the mind, the checklist.
The checklist has expended beyond aviation and are now mandatory tools used by surgeons, nurses, architects, educators, software, marketing, psychology and every other industry you can think off.
The power of this story and many others just like it, where the inspiration behind checkli.com, my startup that helps anyone discover and use the best checklists in the world.
Checklists have provided me, and many others, an alternative solution to medications like Ritalin and Adderall. They help stay us focused, as we are inundated with endless distractions, thoughts and technology.
Whether you’re using a pen and paper, or your favorite app, the checklist is the ultimate plugin of the mind.
Take advantage of this free tool.
Happy National Checklist Day.