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  Home > Newsletter > Preparing Your Plane for Cold Weather Flying, January 2011

Preparing Your Plane for Cold Weather Flying

Winter flying has a beauty all its own, especially witnessing the majesty of snow-capped mountains from above. But freezing temperatures also bring unique conditions and challenges for both man and machine.

Adequately preparing small aircraft for cold-weather flight is essential to the safety of the pilot and integrity of the aircraft. Here are some (but not all) important tips for pilots planning on flying—not just storing—their planes during the winter months.

  • Reread the aircraft flight manual, particular the sections on winterization.

  • Keep the aircraft in a hangar, especially the night before flight, if possible. If not, make sure the plane is covered.

  • Make sure that the plane’s anti- or deicing systems are operational.

  • Change the engine oil to multigrade, or the manufacturer-approved cold-temperature oil.

  • Install a winterization kit to deflect the cold air and keep the cylinders warm.

  • Renew the carbon monoxide detector and have the system checked for cracks.

  • Turn on the cabin heater, heated pitot and demister to make sure they work.

  • Make sure pitot head covers, static vent plugs, control surface locks and tie- downs are in working order.

  • Confirm drain holes are clear of dirt and debris to prevent standing water from freezing and causing blockages.

  • Check the carb heat and alternate air inlet, especially before take off.

  • Find out if your aircraft requires Iso-propyl alcohol in the fuel for operation in low temperatures.

  • After refueling, let the fuel settle in the tanks, then check for water in the system.

  • Check that all the airframe, propeller and windscreen systems are operating correctly.

  • Check that inflatable boots inflate properly, especially on the tailplane.

  • Check that the battery is fully charged, and the alternator is working properly.

  • Clean the airframe of mud, slush and dirt to prevent build up in wheel pants, elevator hinges.

  • On flight day, wear warm clothing and water proof footwear.

  • Pack a cold-weather parka, heavy blanket and winter survival kit on the plane.

  • Before take off, get an up to date aviation weather forecast and note any icing warnings.

  • Make sure your route plan is accurate and you have an alternative in case you encounter ice and snow.

Contact Master Aviation at (203) 790-5226 about helping you winterize your plane.

Important Disclaimer: Information provided by BAC is general information, and is not intended to substitute for informed professional advice.

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