Keep flying safely in summer with our top tips!

With the mercury at its peak, there’s no better time to brush up on our top tips for flying safely in summer!

Remember fuel expands in heat

The higher the temperatures go, the more likely your fuel is to expand. This may mean that your fuel begins to work its way through the fuel lines if you’ve filled your tank to the brim. The way to avoid this is to only fill your tank before take-off, rather than letting it sit around in the sun for a while and giving the fuel a chance to expand.

And don’t forget that, even if your tank appears half full on your fuel gauge, the expanding fuel may give the impression your tank is fuller than it is! Check your levels carefully before you fly.

Be ready for hot starts

Hot starts may be necessary if your airplane has a fuel-injected engine. When fuel has vaporized in the fuel pumps and lines due to hot weather, it can be difficult to start the plane using the normal starting procedure.

Familiarize yourself, therefore, with the hot start procedure according to your aircraft’s handbook (be careful – procedures may vary between models, so it’s important you’re following the right method for your plane!).

And there are a few things you can do to try to avoid hot starts in this heat, including parking your aircraft out of direct sunlight, or leaving the cowl flaps open while you’re parked in the course of the wind for easy ventilation.

Think about density altitude

Hot weather reduces air density. This means that pressure altitude needs to be corrected when temperatures soar, and that’s density altitude. When you fly, the performance of your aircraft is likely to be reduced in areas of high DA.

Lighter is better in the heat

You’re more likely to get better performance the lighter you fly in the summer. It’s all because the reduced air density makes it harder for your plane to get lift, and the heavier your plane, the harder it’s going to be. If you can, travel as light as possible to make things easier both on you and the aircraft!

It may be hot, but there may still be ice!

Even though the ground temperature may be scorching, don’t forget you may still experience ice at high altitudes. Therefore, it’s your duty as a pilot to remember all the checks you’d ordinarily carry out in cooler weather to keep you flying safely in summer.

Avoid the risk of thunderstorms

Anyone who’s flown at our Tennessee or Florida flight schools will tell you, thunderstorms are an inevitability in our warm summer climate! However, if you’re wise, they don’t have to be an inevitability when you’re in the air. There are a number of things you can do to avoid flying through nature’s “heat engine”!

  • Check pre-flight weather reports carefully and develop a Plan B in case you encounter a storm.
  • Follow your instincts: if it doesn’t feel right to fly, don’t.
  • Avoid flying in the hottest part of the day – mid-afternoon. Morning and evening flights are less likely to encounter thunderstorms.

And if you do find yourself flying in a storm?

  • Reduce your speed in turbulence to avoid putting adverse pressure on the engine.
  • Keep your eyes on the instruments if there’s lightning – it could blind you temporarily.
  • Don’t turn around if you’re already in the storm. It’s best to keep a straight, steady course instead.
  • Never fly below the storm – you put yourself at greater risk of turbulence and microbursts.

Keep these tips in mind and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be flying safely in summer! Of course, if you need any other support with any element of your flight training, we’re on hand with the expertise you need. Get in contact to find out more.