One of the most important habits to get into when learning to fly is that of performing checks. No pilot would launch a full size aircraft without going through the relevant check list and pilots of model aircraft should develop the same routines. The BMFA handbook carries a section on pre and post flight checks.
There are a few checks which should be carried out before the first flight of any flying session, but it is particularly important to perform them for a new model. The sort of things which should be checked are:
- Airframe integrity - is the model properly constructed with no loose parts and items like undercarriage and cowlings properly secured? Is the radio installation secure, the aerial lead extended, with the receiver protected from vibration, and free movement of all control runs?
- Is the engine, if fitted, solidly mounted and fitted with a silencer? Is the fuel tank in the right location in relation to the needle valve, with a freely moving clunk pickup and with unobstructed fuel lines?
- Centre of Gravity - within the range shown on the plan?
- Lateral balance - are the wings the same weight?
- Alignment - are the wings and tail surfaces at the correct angles in relation to each other and without warps?
- Connections - are all the servo to control-surface links securely made and without slop?
Your instructor will perform these checks for you initially, and have a good look around your model to make sure everything is sound, but you should quickly get into the habit of doing them yourself: even when you have flown the model and trimmed it out, you will still need to perform some checks before each flight.