How To Perform A Visual Pre-Flight Check On An Airplane (II)

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Pablo Edronkin

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Aeronautical manoeuvers And Procedures

How To Care For An Airplane

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So you go to the door nearest to the pilot's seat and begin by checking that the magneto key is off as well as the battery and avionics master keys. The airplane must be cold and dark, so to speak. You will then check the trim wheel, safety belts, the seats themselves, the instruments, the first aid kit and survival kits, airplane's papers, fire extinguisher, food and water if necessary, and any other required or desired piece of gear or equipment.

Once you finish with the cockpit and passenger cabin, you go outside. In the case of a fairly typical plane, like a Cessna C-152 you will start on the board (left, looking from the cockpit at the propeller) and you will inspect the back of the left side wing, the flaps and ailerons, then the tip of the wing, its front, the left landing gear, the left side of the engine, the propeller, then the right side of the engine cowl, right wing front and back, the back of the fuselage (starboard side), the tail, and then back to the starting point. This is the general idea on how to do this inspection with this fairly common airplane configuration.

Fuel valve opened.
Fuel valve opened.

We will now see the whole process as applied to a PA-11, which is another fairly typical kind of plane and explain in detail each step. In the case of a Cub Special, you will start on the right - starboard side - because normally these planes have only one door on the right: there is a checklist that comes with the plane's manual but here we will describe what to do as we go.

Power level idle.
Power level idle.

So you open the door and first inspect the cabin. Your eyes should fix before anything else on the magneto key; it must be left in the OFF position. Then you verify that all components of the electrical system - if the plane has one, because not all PA-11s have it installed - are off, including COM, NAV and ADF radios. Turn then the trim wheel to the centered or takeoff position.

The right wheel, main gear.
The right wheel, main gear.

You take out any kind of locking devices in place (a stick lock is commonly put in place after flying and storing the plane in order to avoid accidental movements in control surfaces), and if you are about to carry anything that is portable - such as a VHF portable radio, a hand held GPS, etc. you will have to check that these devices are configured properly and that you have batteries installed and a spare set, just in case.

Right brake disk and safety cable.
Right brake disk and safety cable.

If you fly with prescription glasses, make sure that you have them as well as a spare set, and make sure that you will be able to find any and all of these spares during the flight.

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