Tap Out Trouble

Gently tapping parts of your airplane could reveal hidden trouble.

The preflight inspection is, as you well know, an important process where you check all the visible parts and fluids to ensure the airplane is ready to fly. There are, however, many components that we can’t inspect with our eyes. But some of these invisible components can be inspected by other means. You can simply tap on the airplane to make sure that there are no loose parts lurking.

For example, if you gently knock on the spinner and there is something like a detached screw inside that would have the potential to wreak havoc in flight, the loose item would bounce briefly, making its presence known. You can also tap the bottom of the wing surfaces with the same results. If your airplane has wires or thin metal rods, you can also tap them to make sure they are properly attached.

You should also grab on to the spinner, propeller and wing tips and move them gently from side to side and up and down to make sure there is no play in the attachment points.

Visually inspecting the airplane is not enough. If you don’t have any grease on your hands when you sit down in the cockpit, you likely didn’t do a thorough enough preflight.

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