Recently, a Fly Baby builder preparing for his first flight asked if
I had any pre-flight or pre-takeoff checklists. I didn't...but got
to thinking that folks might find them useful. So here goes.
First, one precaution:
THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST OF ITEMS TO CHECK. The intent is to list
the what I think are good Fly Baby-specific items to include on your own
checklists. For instance, I'm ignoring the engine and propeller(mostly)
because there's nothing really different between what you'd do on a Cub
or Champ. To generate your own detailed checklists, get hold of one
from another airplane, copy it, then add these Fly Baby items to it.
You'll also need to add items specific to your own configuration, too.
If you've got a biplane or a canopy, add the appropriate steps.
Seat secure, in position (Mine isn't bolted down, and the notches, etc.
for keeping it in place aren't very deep.)
Shoulder harness draped across outside of turtledeck (to facilitate pulling
them on once you drop into the cockpit. It's awkward to dig them
out from behind your back....)
Seat belts clear of rudder cables, draped diagonally across front of seat
(with my fat gut, the buckles hang below the seat level, which makes them
easy to scoop out from under me once I'm in the seat)
Spar pins in place (If I think about it, I feel the back of the aft spar
carry-though to see if the safety pins are in place)
Elevator pushrod attach bolt
If you have a folding seat back, look behind the seat and check the elevator
Aileron pushrods connected, with safety pins in place.
Turtledeck latches secure
Plus the normal cockpit stuff...controls clear, altimeter set, missing
bolts, parts, etc.)
Landing wires attached to anchors
No distortion in fabric around anchors (would indicate that the attach
points are damaged)
Close examination of flying wire anchor plates (cracks, bends, nuts in
"Plunk" both forward flying wires to see if they're about the same tension
Check turnbuckles, cables, and arrow
Check cables at wheel shackle...no fraying, kinking, etc.
Plus the usual wing stuff (aileron pushrod bolts, hinges,etc.)
Flying-wire attachment shackle (look for damage, make sure the clevis pin
is secured, etc.)
Flying-wire loops on shackle (fraying, kinks, damage, etc.)
Landing-Gear cross-brace cables, turnbuckles, and attach points
Plunk the landing-gear cross-bracing to ensure none have loosened
Make sure wheel-attach bolts are in place
Normal gear stuff (tires, brakes, etc.)
Engine and Propeller
The engine stuff is like any other airplane. The front cowl-securing
pins on some airplanes are sometimes very close to the prop...make sure
they're clear and/or secured.
Tail bracing cables, turnbuckles, and anchors
Elevator bolts (the ones that hold the individual elevators to the main
Check the differential play in elevators (This is common, and probably
not a problem as long as the play is only an inch or so. The main
thing is to monitor it to catch it if it gets worse)
Close examination of tailwheel horn (especially if not modified with reinforcement
- See note below)
Shake tail slightly side-to-side, watching the motion of the tailwheel.
Look for side-to-side play around the tailpost mounting (I had the
lower bolt sheer once, and the greatly-increased play is how I detected
Normal tailwheel-airplane stuff (tailwheel assembly, elevator/rudder
Between a combination of tailwheel spring stiffness, tire condition, tire
inflation, temperature, and taxi speed, the airplane sometimes starts bouncing
up and down on its tires as it taxies along. It's not dangerous,
it doesn't affect control. It's just an odd boing-boing-boing as
you taxi merrily along. It's like someone dribbling a basketball.
It is totally harmless. I've never had it happen during takeoff
run or landing roll. It tends to occur when the tires are stiff...new
tires, freshly-inflated, and especially in colder weather. If you
get the "dribbles", just slow down or speed up...it'll go away.
This is addition to your normal pre-takeoff checks...instruments set, engine
runup, etc. I'd do the above prior to the runup, so you have your
goggles in place.
Drop hand along seat belts, ensure they are clear of rudder cables (many
seat belt assemblies have a slider for adjustment, and this slider seems
to get real close to the cables...check the cable isn't hooked over the
Jacket zipped (it can get distracting to have your clothing start
whipping in the wind....)
Shoulder harness straps secured (I have a real problem with the loose ends
of my harness flapping in the breeze. Just slide the ends underneath
Note on Elevator Horn
The tailwheel is steered
by a bellcrank bent out of flat 0.090" steel, as shown in Figure 6-6 of
the plans (page 6-11 in my copy). Several high-time Fly Babies have
experienced cracking in a leg of the horn. While the design is similar
to the rudder horn, the rudder horn is flat and incorporates a bend at
the leading edge to strengthen it. The legs of the Tailwheel Horn bend
down at a 45 degree angle and thus can't incorporate a bend.
If you're flying a completed Fly Baby, keep an eye on this area.
If you notice cracking, remove the horn and weld up the crack, adding stiffeners
as shown in the diagram.. If you're building one, go ahead and install
a modified horn instead of the stock one.
Comments? Contact Ron Wanttaja