After checking your engine performance and the radio operation, always make sure that your model is properly balanced before your first flight. It happens all too often: Someone with a brand new airplane shows up at the flying field and has everything working perfectly. The radio checks out, all the controls move in the correct directions; the engine runs reliably and provides plenty of power. The pilot taxis it out and runs down the field and becomes airborne. Right away, it starts to rock its wings; the nose points up sharply; and after several frightening seconds, it hits the ground—hard! The pilot did everything right except he forgot to check his model’s balance.
Whether it is a trainer or an unlimited aerobatic plane, to successfully test-fly a new model, you must be absolutely certain that it is balanced at the correct center of gravity (CG) location. Nothing can spoil your day more than trying to deal with a tail-heavy model after it has left the ground. It is a fair bet that improper CG location is responsible for more broken airplanes than engine and radio issues combined. Let’s look at some methods for determining the CG.
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