01 Preflight - Preparing The Aircraft For Safe Flight

by: Jan Zumwalt

About the author - Jan Zumwalt, earned his Aeronautical engineer degree from the University of Alaska - Anchorage. Jan has over 2000hrs as pilot in command and has been employed as maintenance supervisor for several small commuter flight services. He also served as shift maintenance supervisor for Continental Airlines. He has designed and assisted many successful kit aircraft.


If you feel rusty, get some dual, then fly solo and regain your confidence in an aircraft that's similar to the one you've just completed. Pay particlure attention to power off stalls and recovery from unuasual attitudes. Even "hangar flying" can be useful, but you must separate the truth from all the bragging and "big stories."

Weight and balance

Check that the weight and balance are within the designer's specifications. See Figure 3

Control Travel

Make sure that all controls move freely, in the right direction and there should be approximatly 20deg control movement except down elevator should be about 10deg.

Pre-flight Inspection

Do an exhaustive inspection and preflight. Look for things as large as forgotten tools and as small as nuts, washers, connectors etc. Remove all inspection plates and inspect all areas with a mirror and good light.

The preflight inspection should take at least one or two hours.