I am not a Catholic and therefore have never been to a confession.
But here it goes.
I have flown 680fp's and 680flp for 30 plus years, plus some turbine's for the last 10 years. Last late summer, i was diligently pre-flighting the 680flp in the hangar before my friend arrived to the hangar for a ride. Was checking the engine oil and skydrol, and gear springs, etc... my friend came in hanger during the middle of my preflight and very quickly distracted me from my preflight. I pulled the plane out of the hangar talking with him while pulling it out talking about everything under the sun. Was a glorious VFR day. Didn't do a full deflection rudder kick both ways during the taxi and took off. Got about 400 feet and something didn't feel right about the rudder at that time and it took me about 2 more seconds to realize just what I have done. I then pulled the power back to keep my speed to no more than 120 mph and stayed in the pattern and prayed that this external tail lock would NOT fly off and hit someone or something down on the ground. I could feel the lock still in during the downwind. Apparently, i didn't keep tension on the rudder against the lock enough, as when i got out of the plane the rudder lock was gone. My friend thanked me for the 2 minute ride and he thought it was a normal flight and i never told him what i just did. I was so disappointed to what i did and so embarrassed of myself with all of the years i have been flying, it took days and days for me to not think about this incident. The plane flew fine with it in, but if i lost an engine it would have been a huge problem, plus i have no idea where this tail lock ended up to this day.
Side note, we lost a fuel cap 15 years ago at our home airport on take off as the copilot didn't do a good job screwing the cap down. We found this cap finally 5 years ago in the grass off the side of the runway when a mowing crew hit it and damaged it a bit and wondered who's cap this was? I have never not checked a cap again before a flight even if Jesus himself told me he put it on correctly. Same with a tail lock since last summer, in fact i check it twice since last summer as i might have a compulsive disorder now because of it.
Just thought i would confess this to instill the importance of preflight duties to the young pilots in this forum and to future readers that could learn from my past mistakes.