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Sunday October 05, 2014 12:08











Aviation Safety Tips


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Safety in Aviation


Community Education

Winter Flying


Now that we are officially on final approach to the winter season, we would like to share with you a few wise pointers, which we learned and jotted down for our practical reference, from an article compiled by Mr. Michael Vivion for Plane & Pilot ? magazine. You too should consider them. These tips can make your winter flying safer and more enjoyable -as ours will be! If you have more practical suggestions that you believe that we should add on this page, please share them with us!

  • Dress for the environment that you'll be flying over.

  • Preheat your engine.

  • You need to wrap the engine in an insulated engine cover to make the preheat really effective on an overnight stay a stopover.

  • If you're going to park outdoors in temperatures that may dip below the freezing point, you also need to acquire a good set of wing/tail covers and carry them with you, to prevent the buildup of frost or ice on the flying surfaces.

  • Does your airplane have a winterization kit? It is not recommended that you  create your own "homemade" winterization kit -actually it is frowned upon, for neither the airframe manufacturer nor the FAA will look kindly on such unapproved modifications.

  • Are you night-current? Many loose sight of the fact that winter days are much shorter than summer ones, and during the fall transition, it's easy to forget just how much shorter the daylight is as we lose three to four minutes a day. Spend a little time reacquainting yourself with night operations BEFORE you end-up in such a predicament!

  • Check the function of all the lights on your airplane, and the batteries in your flashlights!

  • When it is time for preflight inspections, use a much more critical eye when the temperature hovers well below the freezing point. Proper dress, including proper gloves and hat, permits a pilot to maintain better comfort during the preflight inspection, reducing the inclination to "rush through".

Remember that "good" preflight inspections are even MORE IMPORTANT during winter months.

  • If you keep your plane tied down at an outside location, where the temperature dips-down significantly, then it's a good idea to wrap the engine in a good-quality insulated engine cover. You should also consider using a set of wing covers.

  • Is your airplane equipped with wheel fairings? Slush-covered runways and temperatures hovering close to the freezing point can fill those wheel fairings with ice. Climbing into freezing temperatures will freeze this slush. Consider this factor when flying a retractable as well, and let those wheels/tires hang out there in the breeze and spin a bit longer after takeoff from a slush-covered runway to dry them off a bit prior to retraction.

  • Is your airplane equipped with a carbon-monoxide detector? If not, install one! Inexpensive replaceable CO detectors are available. As temperatures cool, we use the cabin heat more often, and if cracks have developed in the muffler system over the summer, your first indication of this potentially deadly threat might be a screaming headache or worse. CO is colorless, odorless and deadly. Take no chances.

  • On the subject of carbon monoxide, pay particular attention during your preflight inspections to the exhaust system on your aircraft. A VERY close inspection of this critical system in the fall (autumn) is a great idea and could save your life. Look for cracks, loose clamps, etc. If in doubt, talk to your A&P for tips on what to look for.

  • Do you carry survival gear in your airplane? You should?even if you never really need it. Carrying some survival gear can offer alternatives when you divert due to weather to a small field with no services, and where everything is locked up. Go over your survival gear and change out a few "summer" items for "winter" items, and ensure that everything is in good condition.

  • We also recommend carrying a Portable Locator Beacon along with a few items of personal survival gear on your person any time you fly. The latest generation of PLBs are slightly larger than a cell phone and cost less than $300. In an emergency, these devices can send a signal to the Rescue Coordination Center and get help on the way. The "poor man's PLB" is a cell phone; that said, cellular coverage is very spotty outside towns. And, if you crash in town, well... you probably won't need either a PLB or a cell phone!

Check the plane's tire inflation. Aircraft tires contain a low volume of air, and cold temperatures can decrease the tire pressure substantially.

  • Carefully checking your airplane's battery at the onset of winter weather will save you considerable trouble once temperatures drop. Frequently, a weak battery will suffice right up till the temperatures drop a bit, then, "Click...." nothing! A check of electrolyte levels and battery voltage is easy and is considered preventive maintenance. If your airplane is flown infrequently in winter, consider having a trickle-charger installed to keep it charged between flights.

  • The end of summer is also a good time to change your engine oil and start the winter with fresh oil. If you run straight-weight oil in summer, you may want to switch to multi-viscosity oil in winter.

  • Sometime between the first hard frost and the onset of really cold weather, take the opportunity to thoroughly clean your windshield and windows. If you park in an unheated hangar or outdoors, this might be your last chance to thoroughly clean that collection of bugs off the windows before spring! Your airplane will also benefit from an airframe wash before winter.

We need to recalibrate our thinking about flying weather as we go into winter. Winter weather presents very different challenges to flight safety than summer. Icing is a very real threat, winds are often stronger and frequently gusty, and winter-weather systems often move faster. As a consequence, we need to shift our weather THINKING to more of a strategic mind-set, as opposed to the more tactical approach we may be able to get away with in summer flying. Planning a cross-country flight of any significant distance in winter should include a good bit of planning well before the planned trip, and if at all possible, dates should be flexible.



Suggested Aircraft Survival Kit Packing List

  • Case

  • *Water, .5 liter bottles, 8 ea 12 Months from purchase

  • Cup, Canteen

  • Stove, Canteen Cup

  • Fuel, Trioxane, 3 pkg (2 boxes) 5 years from purchase

  • *Food Bar, Datrex, 3600 Kcal, 1 ea As indicated

  • Space Rescue Blanket, 4 ea

  • Space Rescue Sleeping Bag, 4 ea

  • Parachute Cord, 550#, 50? 2 ea

  • Knife or multitool

  • Matches, strike anywhere 12 months

  • Match case, waterproof

  • Candle, long burning 2 ea

  • *Aerial Flares 3/pkg 2 As indicated

  • *Smoke flares As indicated

  • See-Rescue Panel

  • Flashlight, waterproof AA size, spare bulb

  • Lithium batteries AA Energizer 2-pack, 2 ea 12 months from purchase

  • Trash bag, 4 ea

  • Plastic bag, ziplock, qt size, 4 ea

  • Plastic bag, ziplock, pt size, 4 ea

  • Packing list, laminated

  • Luggage tag with weight, cube, inspection date

  • Notebook, waterproof

  • Pencil, wood, with eraser

  • Survival manual, AFP 64-5 (waterproof)

  • Signal mirror, on lanyard, with whistle

  • *First aid kit (in ziplock bag) containing: 12 months

  • = Bandaids 12 ea

  • = Gauze pad 4x4 2/pkg 8 pkg

  • = *Iodine solution 15cc btl

  • = Triangular bandage 2 ea
    = Tape, waterproof or athletic, 1? roll

  • = Dressing, field individual 4 ea

  • = *Tablets, water purification iodine base 1 btl As indicated

  • = *Analgesic, non-prescription 12 /pkg As indicated

* Expires, requires inspection and replacement




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