Although your preflight might not be the most comfortable experience, many pilots enjoy Winter flying knowing they’ll avoid the warm weather hazard of thunderstorms. The cold air also allows for increased visibility which enhances your flight experience. Another factor is the cold air which is denser and allows your plane engine to produce more thrust and take off shorter and climb faster. With the benefits of Winter flying comes some precautions to keep mind to keep it safe.
Keep your preflight inspection strict if not even stricter than normal. Remember your tires will lose pressure as the temperature drops. Every inch of frost and snow needs to be removed. Small animals don’t like the cold – make sure they haven’t made a home in an engine cowling.
Fuel contamination can happen at any time, in any climate, even with the best fuel-pumping equipment. If your airplane has been flown and parked in a hangar while it’s still warm, a half-empty tank can produce condensation, which can lead to water contaminating your fuel.
Plane Preheating Caution
The danger of preheating your airplane is fire. Preheating is safer and smoother if your airplane starts out in a heated hangar. If you do preheat your plane, also check to make sure the heater and cords are in good condition. Never fuel your plane while the heater is in use. And don’t leave your plane unattended during the preheating process. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case something goes wrong.
Be Aware of the Daylight Hours
You should become night current if you want to fly in the winter. Winter days are much shorter than summer days. If you find yourself departing in the afternoon, you might be landing in the dark. Make sure you’re thoroughly prepared for night operations if you’re planning on taking a cross-country flight in winter.
Pay Attention to Deicing Equipment
Visually inspect your deicing boots for cracks and tears. Applying a compound to the boots to protect the rubber can slow the aging process. An ice-shedding product such as ICEX will help keep your boots clear of ice accumulation by reducing the ability of ice to stick to the boots.
Be Prepared for an Emergency
A successful off-field landing during summer leaves you sitting around until help arrives. You may get hungry and thirsty, but that’s about the worst of it. Things aren’t as easy in the winter months. Bring a warm heavy jacket and extra blankets to keep warm. Sitting for hours in a snowy field in an unheated plane can quickly become a dangerous situation. Bring a winter survival kit including a fully charged cellphone and new batteries for your flashlight.
Ready to Take Flight This Winter?
If you’d like to get started with a pilot’s license or a career in aviation you can do this winter at either of our two campuses. CTI flight training is based in the warm weather climates of Memphis and Florida. Book your tour today.