In the past few months I have personally witnessed two
easily preventable model airplane crashes. In each case, the model airplane
became uncontrollable immediately after takeoff, and crashed with
predictable results. In the first instance, the pilot neglected to connect
the aileron servos when he assembled his airplane, and in the second case,
the pilot inadvertently selected the wrong model on his computer radio.
While the loss of these models is regrettable, an important lesson can be
learned from their demise. As our models get larger, heavier and more
powerful, the damage they are capable of inflicting likewise increases, and
so as modelers we must always be vigilant to do everything possible to
operate our models safely. In the full scale aviation world, pilots use
checklists for all phases of flight as an aid to remembering critical tasks.
The human memory is notoriously unreliable, particularly in stressful
situations, so checklists are used to compliment the pilots training to
ensure that nothing critical is overlooked. As modelers, I think we can
learn a great deal from this practice, and for a very small amount of
effort, greatly increase the level of safety in our flying. A number of
sample checklists are offered below:
1. Verify that transmitter and flight pack batteries
are fully charged.
2. Inspect model for any external damage (covering damage may indicate
3. Verify battery, receiver and servos are securely mounted
4. Verify all linkages are tight and secure.
5. Verify engine and muffler are tight and secure.
6. Verify propeller is not nicked or damaged
7. Verify aileron and flap connections are made and secure.
8. Verify wing is properly attached (bolts tight, sufficient rubber bands).
9. Perform range check of radio system (after
verifying that frequency is clear and pin is up)
10. Verify correct direction of ALL controls (right is right, up is up,
etc.). Do this from behind the plane.
1. Verify frequency is not in use, and put Frequency Pin
2. Verify that model is restrained, a mat is beneath the model, and area is clear for starting.
3. Verify that transmitter antenna is full extended.
4. Verify again the correct direction of ALL controls (right is right, up is up, etc.)
5. Verify all trim controls, rate switches, etc. are in correct position.
6. Check the other models in the air to make sure they are not in the
landing pattern or on the runway.
7. Announce intentions prior to entering the runway area for takeoff.
Posted: Dec. 14, 2003.
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