THE BIG LIE - by Ron Lockhart -by Ron Lockhart - from "the Radiator"; Atlantic City Skyblazers, Atlantic City, NJ
OK, so that's a bit harsh. I'll be charitable and call it a Big Fib. You have heard it, or read it, probably many times over. Seems like we often hear, "It flew beautifully, didn't even need any trim!". Magazine articles on kit reviews or new designs like to use the big fib. Too often we read: "It practically flew right off the drawing board." or, "The maiden flight was a dream, it didn't even need the transmitter trims changed." A minor variation is the "All it took was two clicks of left rudder and it flew great." or, "It trimmed perfectly on the transmitter".
Don't you believe it! It is a rare event that a new airplane flies well without trim changes. It may be a proven design, properly constructed, balanced and set up according to the instructions... But, the designer can't know everything about the way it was built and the way it will be flown. It can, and SHOULD BE, trimmed, adjusted, and changed to make it fly more the way YOU want it too. The recommendations in the instructions are a good place to start, and make it highly likely that your new craft will survive its test flight. So after that first flight, now what?
TRANSMITTER TRIMS- If some of them are not close to centered, adjust that control surface so they will be closer to center. Make small adjustments at a time, one to three turns on the clevis. Adjust all control surfaces, and the nose wheel. If all the trim lever travel has been used, it will probably take three turns to get it close to center.
CONTROL SURFACE THROW- Reduce control throws on the rudder and ailerons if they are too sensitive. Make the reductions a little bit, move one hole on control horns or about three turns on the threaded stud type control horns often used on ailerons. If some controls were not very effective, or not sensitive enough, increase the throw a little. If the elevator is too sensitive, there are two possibilities- 1) Reduce elevator throw, or 2) Move the balance point, CG or Center of Gravity, forward. If the plane flew smoothly, but was sensitive to small amounts of elevator stick, then reduce the elevator throw a little. If the plane was smooth and landed going fast with most of the up elevator being used, increase the throw a little. If the plane tended to climb, would not settle into stable flight, tended to balloon on landing, or needs down elevator trim, then you likely have a tail heavy plane and need to move the CG forward. See the next paragraph.
CG/CENTER OF GRAVITY/BALANCE POINT- Tail heavy airplanes are tough to fly even for an experienced pilot. They have lots of bad habits- a tendency to lift off at too low an airspeed, balloon on landing, resist being trimmed for level flight, and so on. Move the CG forward to reduce those things. Add nose weight, or shift the battery or other equipment forward in the fuselage. If it means adding weight to your plane, do it. This is one case where the added weight is well worth it.