As you begin your preflight planning, there is a great checklist that you should go through provided by the FAA (and it is on the PTS) that is called PAVE. PAVE is an acronym representing the four areas that you should check before flying and they are Pilot, Aircraft, Environmental, and External Pressures. You are the only one who can determine whether you are safe to fly and ready to fly or not. The FAA provides a second acronym to help you evaluate the P for Pilot in PAVE.
I’M SAFE – Illness, Medication, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, and Emotions.
Aircraft is the second item in the PAVE checklist. While it may seem obvious to check your aircraft before flying it is most important to give a thorough inspection before start up and taxi. As you become more comfortable around the plane, you may get into the habit of not checking all systems, this is poor practice and typically comes from not using a checklist.
Always check the current and forecast local, en route and destination weather including the NOTAMS. Some excellent places to retrieve those are on the flight planning page.
The last item you need to evaluate are External Pressures. The focus of this checkpoint is to allow you to evaluate if this flight would take place if there was not a rush. If you would say that you are only flying because you are in a rush, need to get somewhere or someone is counting on you flying, it is time to reevaluate and make sure that is a safe call.