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

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Pablo Edronkin

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Sometimes, these planes used mostly in grass strips and bush flying conditions suffer punctures and other wounds due to loose stones or other objects that may fly as a consequence of - say - the action of the propeller. Remember that it is cheaper to repair a little hole in the fabric than a whole section of fuselage from which quite a bit of fabric could be ripped off in flight, plus, imagine what that could do against your own safety.

And so, we reach the horizontal stabiliser and the rudder. The checkout is similar in this case as in the wing: Start with the starboard side by looking at the fabric; particularly, look on the lower side of the stabiliser because there is the place of choice for cow dung, mud, insects and stones to gather and conspire against you; the whole thing should be clean. Then, test the tension of the struts that are up and down the horizontal stabiliser; they should be equally tense.


Lower starboard stab tensor and ruder horn control cable attachment.
Lower starboard stab tensor and ruder horn control cable attachment.

Look at the hinges of the control surface in the same way as you did with the right aileron; move the surface up and down and see what happens. Now look at the rudder and repeat the process, and then pass to the left (board) side and do exactly the same.


Tail wheel.
Tail wheel.

Now look at the tail wheel and its associated mechanisms; there should be two steel cables attached to both sides of the wheel, as well as two springs; there should also be a set of cables corresponding to the horizontal stabiliser that should also be attached.


Lower section of rudder and control cable horn.
Lower section of rudder and control cable horn.

In the case of some PA-11s the trim mechanism is rather different than the norm. Usually, trimming is performed by moving with a series of cables and pulleys a big screw located inside the fuselage, right at the root of the horizontal stabiliser. In some Cub Specials, however, you will see a smallish trimming surface located in the stabilizer itself, like in aircraft such as Cessnas and Luscombes. If this is your case, repeat the same check that you applied to prior surfaces.


Front view of pitot tube on vertical reinforcment strut, board side wing.
Front view of pitot tube on vertical reinforcment strut, board side wing.

Once you finish with the board side of the tail, move on to the fuselage and the rear of the left wing root. Go around it checking the control surfaces, wing tip, etc. in the inverse fashion, or mirroring, what you did on the starboard side, until you reach the pitot tube, which is located un the vertical strut reinforcements, on the left wing.



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