Quad City Challenger pre-flight, suggested preflight check list for Quad City Challenger light sport and ultralight aircraft.


Preflight Inspection and Checklist

This list is an outline of the process I go through preparing the plane for departure through takeoff and climbout.

It looks like a lot of stuff but it takes a lot less time to do it than it does to read it. Many of the items are simple eyeballing to ensure that things are as they should be.

An example is the many notations to inspect the torque seal (aka red nail polish) on fasteners. To the right of each item are notes related to what I do about each item (unless it's obvious).

The challenge with inspections like this, particularly after one has done it for a while, is to maintain the ability to actually see what you are looking at. When a process becomes routine and you start doing it more quickly, it's natural and easy to start looking at things without critically observing what you're seeing. That's when things start to get missed. I find it helps maintain concentration to actually put my hand or a finger on each item as I walk around the plane whenever possible; help keep focused. As ever on this site, if you find an error or omission, please let me know about it. Thanks.

Preflight Walk a round

Remove pitot tube cover and install pitot tube

  Pitot tube is on tip of nose cone and is removable; opening is plugged and flagged when not in use.
Inspect nose cone and windshield for condition, security, cleanliness   Give the nose a gentle wiggle to ensure it's firmly attached. Check the windshield for cracks especially at the rivets. Check for visibility through the bugs.
Inspect yaw string for condition and security   Securely attached and not fraying
Inspect nose gear shaft for play, condition   Wiggle it in all directions to check for play, inspect for visible damage or misalignment. Rotate it and listen and feel for binding or drag in the linkage or cables.
Inspect rudder pedal pivot bolts, front cables, and fittings   Check the torque seal on the nuts for movement, wiggle everything and look for looseness, inspect for wear and chafe
Inspect nose gear tire for inflation, condition   Spin it and listen to the bearings; wiggle it to check the bearings for play and inspect for leaking grease
Inspect VHF antenna and gap seal for security and condition   Give it the gentle wiggle test. Eyeball the rivets for cracks starting
Inspect seatbelt attach bolts for security   Yank on the belt attach brackets, look for movement
Inspect rear seat belts for security (if not to be used)   The rear seat belts need to be securely cinched up and tied down if you don't have doors. Otherwise they'll flail around back there and tear stuff up.
Inspect VOR/LOC antenna for security   Give the whole unit the wiggle test. Check that the rods are securely screwed into the body of the antenna
Inspect left main gear, cables, and brakes for security, condition, inflation   This includes eyeballing the drag and cross cables, bouncing the plane and watching for movement in any part, fitting, or fastener, checking tire condition and inflation (by eyball or gauge if in doubt), the bearing for play or grease leaks, the axle nut for movement at the torque seal, and checking the hydraulic lines and fittings for chafe and/or leakage
Inspect belly strobe head for condition and security   Wiggle gently, check for obscuring gook or bugs
Inspect lift strut inboard brackets and bolts for security   Grab the inboard end of the struts and try to wiggle the bracket. Look and listen for any sign of movement. Check torque seal on nuts.
Inspect lift and jury struts for condition and security   Check tubing for any damage (did the line kid back the tractor into one of the struts when he was parking it last night?) wiggle all the jury struts and check for movement at the rivets and joints. Check torque seal on all nuts.
Inspect lift strut outboard attach brackets and bolts for security   Same deal as inboard, grab strut, wiggle, check for movement. Check torque seal.
Inspect wing, wingtip, and nav light for condition   A visual once-over for signs of damage since last use (did the line kid smack the wing with the Navion's tiptank cause he was too lazy to walk over and check the clearance?)
Inspect left aileron and hinges for condition and play   Look at each hinge as you wiggle the aileron up and down gently. See if anything moves that shouldn't.
Inspect airleron pushrods for condition, security, and play   Push, pull, and wiggle. Look for movement that shouldn't be there. Make sure the pin clips are in place and secure.
Inspect rear gap seal for security   Just a visual once over. The corners are riveted; any cracks starting? The edges are secured with velcro; check that it's still sticking and holding things together.
Inspect engine mounts and bolts for condition and security   Push, pull, wiggle, look for movement. Check the torque seal on the bolts.
Inspect starter, cables, and wiring harnesses for security and condition   Push, pull, wiggle; check torque seal. Wire bundles chafing on anything? Some GPL starter housings have developed cracks at the mounting bolts; check there.
Remove cover and inspect air cleaner for condition and security   Clamps tight, safeties in place
Inspect carburetor mounting and boots for condition and security   Push, pull, wiggle. Clamps tight. Boots in good shape (no cracks). Torque seal on cap screws.
Inspect cooling shroud sheet metal screws for security   Eyeball the torque seal
Inspect redrive pulleys and belt for security, condition, and tension   Visual inspection looking for any sign of wear, cracking, abrasion (black dust collecting in the area) Torque seal on lower pulley bolt. Check lower pulley flanges for security. Grab the big nut and the spinner - push, pull, wiggle, and twist looking and feeling for movement or play. Pull the prop through a couple of compressions. Look, listen, and feel for anything new or unusual.
Inspect rear crank seal for condition (leaks)   Eyeball behind the lower pulley on the underside of the crank. Some grease squeezing out is normal in the first 25 hours or so. If you find much after that or if it starts dripping wet stuff, that's a leak.
Inspect propeller for security and condition   Run fingers along leading edge, feel for nicks, chips. Eyeball the whole thing looking for nicks, scratches, gouges, delamination. Wiggle gently fore and aft at the tips, feel for play in the bolts or bearings.
Inspect spinner for security   Wiggle and check the torque seal.
Inspect dorsal fin for security   Push, pull, and wiggle. Torque seal on bolts. Look for movement of the brackets. Check fabric in this area. It gets blasted by the propwash (and anything picked up by the propwash) pretty good.
Inspect xponder antenna for security   Wiggle gently. See if it's clean or if it's gotten bent.
Inspect elevator bellcrank and pushrods for security and condition   Push, pull, wiggle, check the torque seal. Look down inside at the lower pivots too. Check the rivets on the push rods.
Inspect stabilizer struts, brackets and bolts for security and condition   Push, pull, wiggle. Check torque seal, look for loose rivets, movement of the tube or the brackets.
Inspect elevator hinges, control horns, and balljoints for security and condition   Push, pull, and wiggle. Check the pins, safeties, and the rivets. If bolted, check the torque seal.
Inspect rudder hinges, control horns, and cables for security and condition   Same deal as the elevators
Inspect strobe head for condition and security   Wiggle gently, check for obscuring gook or bugs
Inspect exhaust manifold, pipe, springs, bolts, and muffler for security and condition   Push, pull, and wiggle. Eyeball the springs for breaks and check the safety wire. Eyeball the bracket bolts for wear. Torque seal on manifold cap screws.
Inspect fuel filter sump for water or other contamination   And do something about it if you find it....
Inspect ground cables, sensors, and wiring for condition and security   Push, pull, wiggle, check torque seal, look for chafe
Visually inspect fuel level   And while you've got the door open, eyeball the cables and wiring that you can see
Inspect fuel filler cap and breather for condition and security   Like making sure you put it back on after fueling.
Inspect fire extinguisher for condition and security   Eyeball the gauge, check the velcro fasteners
Inspect right wing, aileron, hinges, lights, struts, bolts and brackets, main gear, brakes, rudder pedal bolts, fittings, and cables.   Just like on the other side
Remove ballistic chute safety pin   And eyeball the bracket and handle for security. DON'T push pull and/or wiggle after the pin is out!


Brief passenger   How to get in and out, what to expect, what to touch, push on, or pull on (and not)
Belts and harnesses secure   Double check the passenger's belts before you get in especially if pax is a child. Show them how to tighten and how to release
Cockpit (loose objects) secure   Check for anything that could get loose and especially anything that could get out and get into the prop. Brief passenger on the importance of this.
Intercom function (if carrying passenger)   Talk to me, Goose
Flight controls free and correct   Look, listen, and feel for anything out of the ordinary
Boost pump on    
Strobes on    
Master switch on   Confirm function of boost pump and strobes
Check system voltage   12.5V + or - and fluctuating as strobes cycle
Throttle closed    
Choke as needed    
Clear prop    

After Starting

Brakes set

  If on pavement. On grass, the plane usually won't roll below 3000-3500.
Avionics master on   Since this switch turns on the EIS among other things, it can't be turned on until the engine is running or the tach function on the EIS won't work
2400 until 100 + CHT   2400 or any similiar RPM that results in smooth idle
Confirm postive rate of charge   The ability to do this is one reason I like to have an ammeter on the panel
Confirm system voltage   13.8 to 14.5V peak with engine running, depending on load.
X ponder to standby    
Confirm Turn coordinator power up    
GPS on, confirm function    
Radio on    
Altimeter set   To field elevation or by AWOS, ATIS etc. If by ATIS, confirm field elevation after setting as check on instrument calibration.
3000 RPM till 5 min and/or CHT 190 +   In cold weather, CHT temps may not come up fully; in that case, maintain 3000 for 5 min
3500 RPM for ignition check   EIS tach may not function on one ignition module. Do it by ear.
Confirm temps, sound, and feel of engine normal and within parameters   This is your final awareness check, by instruments and feel, that everything's good to go.
Lights as needed    

Taxi Checks
Compass, confirm function   Confirm free movement in turns, alignment with runway heading and taxiways perpendicular to it
Turn coordinator, confirm function   Shallow 'S' turns. Also useful to monitor nosewheel and steering linkage function and condition.

Xponder on    
Note time    

Takeoff Roll

Full Throttle, Confirm full power RPM   Smoothly, to avoid shock loads on the belt.
ASI, confirm function    

Climb out
To 500' AGL   Monitor temps and power. In event of abort, MAINTAIN AIRSPEED; land straight ahead on remaining runway if possible; or shallow turns ONLY for off-airport landing. NO TURNS TO RETURN TO FIELD UNTIL AT LEAST 500' AGL

Click here for other tips

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14  Index for this section.  Main Index

Ellef Air, light sport and ultralight aircraft sales, service and repair.
Ultralight Aircraft News Web Magazine EMAIL for l Information. No part of this publication may be copied or distributed, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a retrieval system, or translated into any human or computer language, in any form or by any means, electronic,  mechanical, manual, or otherwise,  without written permission of Ultralight Aircraft News. By copying or paraphrasing the intellectual property on this site, you're automatically signing a binding contract and agreeing to be billed $10,000 payable immediately. Copyright Ultralight News