The checklist below starts at the field and assumes you have bought your plane, batteries, controller etc. All the points are important and should be kept in mind if we want to avoid crashes and have fun with our electric remote control airplanes for as long as possible.
- Safety Check – Assess the field. If there are people using the field make sure you can fly safely with them there. Don’t plan to fly over them, plan to fly in the space they are not using. If there isn’t enough space don’t fly. Come back some other time.
- Sun and Wind Check – Assess the position of the sun and the direction and strength of the wind. Go to a position on the field where you can safely take off into the wind, and won’t have to deal with the sun during your flight (so ideally, be near the edge of the field with the sun at your back). If the wind is strong make your own call based on experience, skill and judgement as to whether or not to fly.
- Sunglasses check – look into the sky for a few moments (say 10 seconds) and figure out whether you need your sunglasses or not – even on overcast days where you wouldn’t use your sunglasses at ground level you may still need them due to glare.
- Frequency Check – Check that no one else is flying or using RC in the immediate vicinity. If they are, check what frequency they are on. If necessary wait.
- Plane Check – Check the plane is straight. Make sure the wings are correctly aligned.
- Transmitter Voltage Check – transmitter on. Check voltage indication is okay.
- Battery Connection and Check – Make sure throttle is closed. Connect the battery to plane. Check that battery is properly connected by ensuring it won’t pull out without using the clip.
- Control check – standing next to the model operate the rudder, elevator and ailerons (if you have them). Make sure they travel freely and without hindrance.
- Trim check – Check the neutral position of the control surfaces with no control input (ie transmitter on, but sticks not being pushed in any direction). Make sure they align well and adjust trim using transmitter if they don’t.
- Radio Check – with the transmitter on but the aireal not extended, walk 25 metres away from the plane and visually confirm that all control surfaces respond to control input through the transmitter. (Note: Don’t combine your radio check and control check – you can’t see the control surfaces well enough at 25 metres to be confident they are moving freely.
- Extend your aireal.
- If you are “taking off” rather than hand launching then do the engine and throttle check (15) now.
Last Safety Check – look around the field once again and make sure you know where any groups of people are congregating. Once the plane is in flight you will not have much opportunity to look at the ground (because you should keep your eyes on the plane) so if the field is busy consider not flying. Keep in mind people will move about while flying.
- Last Wind Check – Is the wind still coming from the same direction? Is it still safe to fly? If you are “taking off” rather than hand launching, you are clear to take off. If you are hand launching proceed to 13.
- Throttle and Engine Check – Arm the engine (if you have that feature). Holding the model firmly open the throttle gradually making sure the engine comes on when it should, and at full throttle makes the normal noise (you only need to listen for 1 second or so to tell). If you are hand launching then launch. If you are “taking off” then proceed to 13.