Helicopter Pre-Flight
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Home > Articles & Tips Index > Flying > Helicopter Pre-Flight

[Courtesy of Joel Foner joel.foner "at" fonerassoc.com, March 1999]

Here is a checklist that I have used for a while for making sure things are ready to fly.  Including cleaning, this routine takes about a half-hour, and it's already saved my heli more than once. If you haven't ever done a standard pre-flight, this may seem like too much work. Once you've run this through a few times, you'll be surprised how quick it is. The other surprise once I started doing this is how many important things turned up and got fixed before getting to the field - rather than after picking up the pieces!

Routine Replacement

  • New glow plug every 12 tanks (why wait for a flame-out?)
  • New blades yearly (why take the risk that wood blades have dried out or that fiberglass/carbon blades have developed internal stress fractures?)
  • New fuel tubing every season (in-tank and outside - every 3 months if a year-round pilot!)


  • Clean main rotor blades
  • Clean tail rotor blades
  • Clean canopy/fuselage
  • Clean skids
  • Clean tailboom
  • Clean stabilizer
  • Clean fin
  • Clean training gear (if used)

Check Linkages

  • Check for slop at blade grips
  • Check for slop at swashplate
  • Check for slop at servo pushrods
  • Check for slop in throttle linkage
  • Check for slop at tail rotor
  • Check for slop in rotor head ball links
  • Check for slop in start shaft
  • Check tail rotor drive belt tension (if belt drive)
  • Check tail rotor drive belt wear (replace if worn)

Check and Tighten Fasteners

  • Check/tighten main rotor blade root bolts
  • Check/tighten main rotor blade root reinforcements
  • Check/tighten flybar collars
  • Check/tighten paddles
  • Check/tighten mainshaft
  • Check/tighten tail rotor blade bolts
  • Check/tighten tail rotor blade grips
  • Check/tighten engine mounting bolts
  • Check/tighten throttle extension (if any)
  • Check/tighten carb throttle arm
  • Check/tighten skid/landing gear attachment bolts
  • Check/tighten canopy attachment
  • Check/tighten frame fasteners
  • Check/tighten tail boom support fasteners
  • Check/tighten fin and stabilizer fasteners

Other Checks

  • Check antenna for tension
  • Check antenna for wear
  • Check fuel line for hardening or discoloration
  • Check blade covering



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