Winter Flight Operations

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Winter flying can be an enjoyable experience if you take the time to prepare for cold weather flight and exercise good judgment based on all available weather information. Winter operations will often mean that a decision must be made to go or not to go, that is based on all of your experience and background as a pilot.

Beginners in winter flight must use extra caution and occasionally seek advice from more experienced pilots as there are times during winter that not even the birds are flying.

In a previous article, titled “Preparing for Winter Flying” (see Cessna Flyer, November 2011), I discussed mechanical aspects of preparing for winter such as ensuring that the ignition system was recently serviced, the aircraft was cleaned and waxed, and the fuel system was completely free of all moisture. Also discussed were engine preheating, snow and ice removal, carbon monoxide poisoning, preparing a survival kit and dressing appropriately for winter.

While I won’t repeat these items in detail, I will touch on some of them again, as they are important to the success of winter flight operations.

Preparing for flight:

Preparing for a flight can take hours or minutes depending on whether your plane is in a heated hanger or tied down outside on the flight line. The weather conditions just prior to your intended flight may require deicing, snow removal, and preheating of the engine. These operations must be planned and executed in a fashion that is efficient and proper for the conditions. It makes no sense to preheat an aircraft engine and then start the snow removal process while the engine cools down.

If it is snowing you need to plan for removal of the snow and a method to keep the snow from sticking to the aircraft after you remove the snow. Aircraft deicing and anti-icing fluid is intended for this purpose and one source that will sell to retail customers in small amounts is www.aircraftdeicinginc.com.

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