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 The 7 Steps to Safe Winter Flying 
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Post The 7 Steps to Safe Winter Flying
The 7 Steps to Safe Winter Flying
by: Steven Styles

If you’ve ever driven a car during a cold winter you know the kind of maintenance required to keep it functioning through the snow, ice, and extreme temperatures. Small plane pilots face similar issues during the winter months, but unlike driving a car, winter can be the best time of the year to fly. The cold air is denser, the engine will cool better, taking off will be easier, you will climb steeper, and you’ll be able to cruise faster.

These key steps will enable pilots to make the most of winter flying:

1. Pre-heat the engine

You will need extra time to prepare the plane for takeoff in the winter. To heat the engine, either install an electric heating element on the bottom of the crankcase or use a propane space heater with a duct to direct hot air under the cowling. The first solution will take about two hours, the space heater solution about 15 minutes. It is crucial that your oil be warm and fluid to properly lubricate the engine, even in winter. If you attempt to fly with thick, cold oil you could quickly destroy the engine.

2. Protect the wings and windshields from frost with cloth covers

The accumulation of ice and snow on the plane can lead to disaster in flight. After takeoff, ice and snow can cause the airfoil to change shape and increase roughness. To avoid this, keep the wings and windshields covered when the plane is at rest so that you can simply peel them away when you’re ready to fly. If you don’t have covers be sure to get all the frost off with a push broom before flying.

3. Fill tanks after each flight

Condensation of moisture in the fuel tanks can contaminate the fuel at any time of year and in any climate. Always fill the tanks after flight to prevent this.

4. Break up ice on the landing gear

Slush or water on the runway can turn to ice on the landing gear and can cause it to freeze in the up position during the flight. To avoid this, cycle the gear a few times on ascent to keep it free of ice.

5. Get a carbon monoxide detector for your cabin

An exhaust leak in your heater could fill the cabin with carbon monoxide. Equipping your cabin with a detector is an affordable, easy way to ensure the safety of you and your passengers.

6. Descend at a lower rate

In the cold, a long descent could cause the engine to cool too much to make a go around. Descending at a lower rate with more power will prevent this.

7. Pack winter survival gear

Always be prepared for the worst. If you crash in winter you will need winter gear, a sleeping bag, and something to make a fire.


About The Author

Steven Styles is the President of, an online retailer offering a huge selection of low-priced aviation parts and material by the top manufacturers in the industry. SkyGeek is based out of the Styles family’s Sky Acres airport in upstate New York. Visit SkyGeek today and view their products.

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Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:19 pm
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