Stay safe with our top winter flying tips!
As the mercury dips, remind yourself of best practice for this time of year with our top winter flying tips! If you’re learning at our Florida or Tennessee flight schools, snow and ice might not top your list of worries. However, on the occasion you do find yourself facing wintry weather, it’s important to keep safe and warm – and preparation is essential!
File a flight plan
It could save your life! Always best practice but even more imperative in the winter, filing a flight plan means local operators know where you are. They’ll be able to advise on the specific conditions in the area, which could be invaluable. Plus, if the worst happens, it’ll be easier for them to locate you – meaning a flight plan could save your life.
Follow popular road routes
This is a really useful tip to keep you up to date with conditions ahead. For example, if you’re flying north and all the vehicles traveling south are covered in fresh snow, you know you’re heading into bad weather. If your judgment says to turn around, this is the time to do so – before you hit that bad weather.
Listen to your best judgment
Which leads to one of our most important winter flying tips! Always, always listen to your best judgment. If you’re unsure of your ability to get to your destination, or if you’re worried about your competency to fly safely, or you just have a bad feeling about the flight ahead, listen to yourself and cancel that trip! No occasion or meeting is so important that it’s worth risking your safety.
Check the manufacturer’s winter recommendations
If you haven’t read up on your manufacturer’s recommendations for winter use of your aircraft, it’s time to do so. How will the aircraft react in particular temperature extremes? What will you need to do differently or which performance changes should you anticipate? It’ll all be there in the manual, so don’t take off before you’ve fully understood how cold weather affects your aircraft.
Use the right engine oil
In low temperatures, it’s essential you use the right weight engine oil in your aircraft. Again, check your manual to make sure your engine oil won’t let you down this winter.
Inspect your aircraft carefully
We all know how important it is to carry out pre-flight checks whenever you fly, but it’s even more important in cold weather! Is the oil breather free of ice? Is there any wear or tear on the hose lines or seals? Does everything look in order? Check carefully before you climb in that cockpit.
Remove all frost, snow, and ice
Of course, we’d expect you to clear all snow or ice from your windshield before take-off; that makes perfect sense! But did you know your wings need to be frost-free too? Make sure your aircraft is entirely free of all frost, snow, and ice – and maybe keep it in a hangar or undercover to make this job easier each time.
Taxi with care
With snow or ice on the ground, your aircraft needs to be handled completely differently during taxiing. Don’t attempt sharp turns or sudden stops – that’s just asking for disaster! Take things slowly and steadily for a safe taxi to the runway.
Refuel after landing where possible
As condensation builds up in a half-full fuel tank after landing, you could risk fuel contamination as that condensation turns to water. Avoid this by refueling shortly after landing, which prevents the build-up of condensation if the tank cools suddenly in the cold weather.
Dress warm and pack a survival kit
Your cockpit might be well-heated, but if you need to land unexpectedly, or if your heating fails, it’s essential to have some warm clothes to keep your body temperature up! A survival kit is also a good idea – perhaps with some key essentials, sugar cubes, a torch and some basic first aid items. It’s doubtful you’ll ever need to use it, but on the occasion you do, it’ll be an absolute game-changer!
It may seem like there’s lots to remember when flying in winter, particularly if you’re used to the warmer climes of the Mid-South and South-East! However, these winter flying tips will help keep you safe all season long – whatever weather you face.
If you want some further tuition under the guidance of our qualified flight instructors, get in touch to find out more!