Checklist on the building bench before heading to the field:
1.Controls go in the correct direction. Most commonly reversed are the ailerons. When you push the aileron stick to the RIGHT, the RIGHT aileron should go UP.
2.Center of gravity. We presume your kit came with a recommended center of gravity range. For your first flight, you should be in the FORWARD part of that range (i.e. your battery(ies) should be pushed farther to the nose).
3.Prop on the proper side facing forward. I know, but I've seen it many times.
4.Motor spins correct direction. If not, change it in your speed controller menu, or if you cannot do that, swap any two of the three wires going from your motor to your ESC.
5.Servo setup: Your servo travel adjustment in your radio should move your servos as far as they can reliably go when you are in HIGH RATES. We want the maximum *mechanical advantage* in our control system, this means the servos should travel as far as possible, and we should set our HIGH RATE control surface throw by selecting the proper hole in our servo arm to get the right amount of throw.
6.Control Throws: We presume your kit came with a recommendation. If it's a used plane or didn't for some other reason, use these:
Ailerons: High Rate 35 degrees Low Rate 10 degrees
Elevators: High Rate 45 degrees Low rate 15 degrees
Rudder: High Rate 40 degrees if possible on your plane Low Rate 20 degrees
The main thing here is the elevator throw. If this is a 3D plane, at some point you are going to try to stall the plane, fly through the stall with power, and begin 3D maneuvering. This will require enough elevator throw (and a pull on the stick like you mean it) to stall both wings, and this requires sufficient elevator throw. Many times at a fly in, I have been handed a transmitter because a plane is "snapping out" of a wall or other 3D pitch maneuver. If I pull on it and it rolls one way or the other instead of flying through the stall, odds are when I land, I'll find it only has 25-30 degrees of elevator throw.
7.Expo: I highly recommend around 25% on low rates and around 70% on high rates for your first flights. This is safe. You can tune later.
8.Servo and control motion: Make sure your servo quickly and smoothly moves the control surface to the limit you have selected. If the servo moves about 75% of the way and then slows down and creeps those last few degrees, stop. Do not fly the plane. Take the linkage apart. Figure out if its a weak servo (bad servo, low voltage in the system) or of the linkage is too tight (hinges installed wrong, ball link needs lube).
8.Pull-pull cable tension: If your plane uses rudder cables, make sure they are not slack, and no "banjo string" tight, either. Just taut is all we want. As long as the rudder can't be bounced back and forth in the slack of the rudder cables, we're good. Take whatever tool you need to tighten these to the field with you, this is the first thing that will need maintenance.
9. Grab everything on the plane and pull and twist. If it feels loose, tighten it. Don't let your excitement to maiden cause you to lose a wheel pant or worse, a wheel. Make sure the prop fastener is tight an the spinner cone is secure. Cowl screws are secured. Canopy latch fully engaged.
10.Set your radio fail safe according to the instructions.
11.Make sure your lipo battery(ies) are fully restrained with a strap that goes AROUND the pack and the tray.
12.Make sure your servo extensions have plug locks, even if it's just masking tape.
13.Before going to the field, run your power system on a freshly charged battery, verify that it pulls strongly (FORWARD) and check the amps and watts with a plug-in wattmeter. Is it approximately what it is supposed to be? Good. Let's go to the field.