Moving counter-clockwise around the plane, inspect your craft for overall condition as well as the condition and operation of control surfaces such as ailerons, elevators, and rudder. Why? Things can happen. Even if you flew yesterday and parked your craft overnight you should perform a full preflight inspection. Someone might have accidentally run into and bent a control surface, for example. It’s easier to find it now than to write it on an accident report.
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Here’s a generic preflight-inspection list for the fuselage and tail of your sport aircraft:
- Inspect the fuselage from behind the pilot’s door to the tail section, looking for condition and damage. Remember to squat down and look at the underside of the fuselage as well.
- If the elevators or rudder have control surface locks (to protect them from moving in wind gusts), remove them.
- If equipped with a tail wheel, inspect the wheel, attached spring, and steering mechanism.
- Disconnect the tail tie-down (the chain or rope attaching the tail to the ground), if any.
- Carefully check the elevators for smooth movement, and inspect the cable and hinges that control them.
- Carefully check the rudder for smooth movement, and inspect the cable and hinges that control it.
- Inspect the trim tab (if any) on the trailing edge of the elevators and rudder.
- Inspect the fuselage from the tail section to the right wing.
These preflight inspection steps assume that your craft is parked outside with tie-downs. Of course, if it’s parked in a hangar (lucky it!) removing tie-downs isn’t necessary.
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