Being A Good Test Pilot: Part 1, Mechanical Soundness

Testing a new model out is an important task regardless if it is yours or a friends. Many things go into a successful test flight. This will be the first in a series of articals on this subject. I consider it a high honor to be asked to test a new model and you should as well. Lets honor those requests by doing the job well. My writing will be mostly from the perspective of testing anothers model to simplify the language.

When a modeler brings you model to test fly, not only is he choosing you for your flying skills and experience, but also for your wisdom and judgment. Obvioulsy your trusted. Don’t shy away from telling the builder what they need to hear. If the model is not really ready to fly, say so. Your were choosen because you have the judgement and skills to make that deturmination as well as the skills to fly the model if it’s ready.

The first thing to do is size up the modeler and the model. If the modeler is known to you, is the complexity of this model in line with this persons experience and flying skills? For example, a pilot on his 3rd model presenting you with a multi engine, air-retract model could be reaching out a bit far. You’ll need to inspect every detail of this model very carefully as mechanical errors are more likely. Check every connection in the retract system. Look the servos over, are the appropriate for the model? Is the linkage up to snuff for the expected speed and performance? Is other hardware like wheels and landing gear mounting substantial enough to handle landing loads? Is the wiring done well? Are connectors properly safety tied where needed? Is wiring mounted or flopping around inside? Is the battery and RX secure? One of these loose in the model could lead to plugs opening up or severe CG changes. How is the antenna routed? Is it shadowed by wiring or other objects? Look at all the basics. If there is anything at all your not comfortable with, now is the time to discuss and address any problems.

To be continued…….

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