July 2019 Safety Corner

Experienced pilots are, for the most part, a pretty confident group. They believe their flying skills, judgment, enthusiasm, and professional attitude toward aviation will always carry them safely to a positive outcome on every flight. However, even experienced pilots have made plenty of mistakes – luckily without major consequences.


What about air traffic controllers? We’ve all heard the sensational media reports of controller’s falling asleep on the job or being so overstressed and overworked that safety is routinely compromised. Those situations are very
few and far between. In my experience, I’ve found that the vast majority of air traffic controllers can be your best friend in the sky. They are well-trained professionals, very competent, have safety as their top priority, and
can be very helpful when you are in a pinch. Too many of us think of ATC as the FAA’s “Big Brother” waiting to pounce on any mistake and violate us at the drop of a hat. I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. Whether
it’s weather issues, mechanical issues, or poor judgment issues, air traffic controllers can a true ally in the air. Controllers have saved many a VFR pilot blundering into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) by guiding them to safety, or being a voice of calm when a pilot is experiencing mechanical issues. Controllers help steer us ‘little guys’ away from and around bad weather and give us priority when situations get really serious. Many controllers are pilots themselves and are uniquely qualified to assist you when facing difficult situations in the air. They frequently give ‘suggestions’ that turn out to be lifesavers.

As a CFII, the biggest “fear” I’ve seen in pilots has nothing to do with weather, crosswinds, mechanical issues, etc. It is the fear of talking to controllers. They would rather not go to the ‘big’ airports like Eppley or Lincoln, or they would rather go out to the west practice area to work on skills without communicating to anyone. That’s such a huge mistake. I encourage all of our Skyhawk club members to contact Omaha Approach – either on the ground or in the air after takeoff from MLE – and be under their watchful eye, even if you are just going out to the west practice area. If you’re going on a short cross-country, consider getting ‘flight following’ from center controllers. Obviously, VFR flying is about see and avoid and the controllers realistically are charged with just separating IFR traffic from you. However, the controllers we work with in the Omaha and Lincoln area are happy to give traffic reports to VFR aircraft and give situational awareness reports regarding terrain and obstacles. Are all these things your responsibility? Sure, but it’s nice to know they have your back. As long as
you are acting responsibly, following FARs, and have good situational awareness of your surroundings, “big brother” watching you can be a good thing.

Expand your flying opportunities by getting into the ‘system’ and exploring the ‘big’ airports. Go to Lincoln a few times to gain some experience in talking to both enroute and tower controllers. Let them know you are a
relatively inexperienced pilot when it comes to communications. Trust me, they will be very helpful. Then you can work your way to Eppley and beyond.

One last thing . . . . . if you don’t have an instrument rating, consider starting it. Talking to controllers as an IFR-rated pilot will be like talking to your friends on a telephone after a while . . . . . with no fear, that is . . .


HAPPY FLYING AND BE SAFE!!!

Kevin Broderick, ATP, CFII, & Skyhawk Safety Officer

 
 

June 2019 Safety Corner

The FAA is still hot and heavy when it comes to educating general aviation pilots on Airport Operations. With increases in air traffic, there has also been an increase in surface operation incidents and incursions at airports throughout the country – large and small. Currently there are three runway/taxiway incursions per day. That’s over 80 incursions a month!! If you’ve been to Eppley Airport lately, you’ll see that the construction has turned airport taxing into chaos. It’s important to remember that when flying from point A to point B, please make sure your preflight activities include airport operations and diagram information for departure and destination airports.

Pre-Flight Planning

  1. Familiarize yourself with runway layouts and taxi routes at both the
    departure and destination airports. If you’re heading to a large airport, decide ahead of time what FBO you’ll be stopping at, the runways in use, and the taxiways you’ll use to get there. Also keep in mind the possibility that the control tower may take you on a different route, so familiarize yourself with the airport and taxi diagrams. You can find these in the Airport Facility Directory, AOPA’s facility book and website, and assorted aviation websites (NACO) and Jeppesen materials.
  2. When in doubt of where to go at ANY TIME while taxing, please ask
    the tower for PROGRESSIVE TAXI INSTRUCTIONS. Don’t feel that it belittles your abilities as a pilot by using this phrase. Getting a good look at the airport layout is different at 1,000 – 2,000 feet versus being on the ground and confusion can easily happen – especially at night! If you have a co-pilot, utilize him or her. Confirm routes with each other to help clarify any confusion.
  3. ALWAYS verify and read back your assigned taxing routing from the
    controller.
  4. Always be alert when crossing runways, just like you’re crossing the
    street. Look both ways. Controllers are not infallible. They, too, can
    make a mistake but it doesn’t relieve pilots of being “heads up” while
    taxing.
  5. At smaller, less-used airports, announce your intentions on the CTAF
    and be vigilant before entering a runway. Some of these smaller airports have a lot of older aircraft that may not have the necessary
    communication equipment. Just keep a sharp eye out before entering a runway and don’t rely on, “Well, I didn’t hear anybody announce
    they’re in the pattern so it should be safe.”

Communications

  1. “Line up and Wait” – If you fly into towered airports a fair amount, you’ve undoubtedly heard this phrase at some point (it used to be “position and hold”). What does it mean? When a controller instructs your aircraft: “Skylane 5380N, line up and wait 32 right.” In short, you are NOT cleared for takeoff but are cleared to enter the runway and hold for takeoff instructions. You know you’re cleared for takeoff when the controller gives the following: “Skylane 5380N cleared for takeoff, turn right 030 degrees.” Obviously, if the controller says “Hold Short”, then he/she is asking you to hold behind the hold short line until further notice.
    • Remember, when taxing onto any runway – EVEN IF CLEARED TO DO SO – please remember to look around first. ALWAYS USE YOUR CALL SIGN WITH ANY TRANSMISSION. There’s a lot of traffic on an airport and it’s not uncommon to have two planes with similar sounding N – numbers.
  2. LAHSO – Landing and Hold Short Operations have been identified by the FAA as problem spots at larger airports that have intersecting runways. Omaha has 36-18 intersecting with 32L-14R. It is critically important to listen carefully to landing instructions. If the controller instructs tells you you’re cleared to land on one of these runways but also includes a “hold short of 18”, then it’s critical to adjust your landing so that you are completely stopped well before runway 18. Chances are the controller has operating traffic on 18. Always verify and read back your takeoff and landing clearances and frequency changes from the controller. ALWAYS BE SPECIFIC!!!

Aircraft Lighting

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  1. Use your exterior lights for different operations. For example, when on the
  2. ramp with the engine running, make sure your rotating beacon is on. Do not
  3. have your taxi or landing lights on because it could be disorientating to other
  4. aircraft on the ramp. When taxing, make sure the rotating beacon, nav, and
  5. taxi lights are used. When turning onto the final taxiway or entering the
  6. runway, turn on your landing light. Do not use your strobes unless weather
  7. conditions dictate it OR there are no other aircraft taxing in your area. The
  8. strobes will adversely affect the vision of other pilots or ground personnel.

Airport Markings, Signs and Lights

  1. Always be aware at non-controlled tower airports of pilot-controlled lighting. Is it 5 clicks for medium an 7 for high intensity? Well, it depends on the airport you’re at. Check your AFD for details.
  2. Runway marking and lighting are white. Taxiway markings are yellow with blue lights. Please jump in your old private pilot book and freshen up on taxi way marking patterns. One confusing marking has always been the ILS hold short line. Just remember: when a controller issues the instruction to hold short of the ILS hold short line, then it’s important to understand why. Most taxiways will take a 90 degree turn to get to the normal hold short line. If weather is IFR (or especially below 600’) and the ILS is in use, a plane sitting in front of the normal hold short line MAY interfere with the ILS beams and electronics. Hence, an ILS hold short line has been installed at
    many larger airports to help prevent interference.
  3. Taxiway signs are black with yellow numbers, while runway designations are in red with white numbers. Taxi directional signs are yellow with black numbers and usually with arrows unless it is a short taxiway.
  4. If you’re not sure where you are going – ASK!!!

Kevin Broderick, TP,CFII, Skyhawk Flying Club Safety Officer


May 2019 Safety Corner

With summer soon upon us, I’ve noticed more and more club members getting into the planes and dusting off some rust. As I’ve flown with many of you to shake out the cobwebs, I’ve also noticed a real apprehension about entering controlled airspace, communicating to TRACON (Omaha Approach Control) and also to Eppley or Lincoln tower controllers. This is quite understandable. However, it’s also very impractical if you truly want to utilize and improve your flying skills and have the opportunity to fly to
many different locations. The prospect of accidentally deviating from altitude or heading assignments and being reprimanded by the FAA is very real and can easily happen due to today’s crowded airspace. There are many ways to bone up on excursions into controlled airspace to help alleviate your apprehension.

Here are a few tips that can help:

  1. Get with a flight instructor and go back and get some remedial work in basic heading and altitude changes – especially under the hood if you’re instrument rated. This will help get the feel of the airplane back in various configurations and help with your concentration and focus. Until you feel comfortable and sharp flying the plane, you won’t be focusing your attention to what controllers are telling you to do.
  2. Talk to your instructor about introducing a number of distracters while you’re doing this work as well. This could be traffic separation situations, responding to queries by controllers, or handling an emergency. Single pilot IFR flying is the toughest flying to do, not only because of level of concentration needed to fly and navigate (workload), but also because the amount of communication
    taking place with controllers – usually at the worst times!!
  3. Start out by going to a smaller tower or controlled airspace, like Lincoln, Grand Island, or Sioux City. They are very helpful and understand that instruction is part of getting better as a pilot. If you’re alone, don’t hesitate to let them know you are just getting some practice in controlled airspace and with the tower. They’ll know you’re not sharp in higher congested areas and will be happy to
    work with you. After you feel comfortable with those places, venture to Omaha (Eppley Airfield) or KC. The Class B & C airspace is more congested so you’ll receive a bigger challenge.
  4. After you’ve mastered going in and out of the Class C airspace, go ahead and plan a trip to Minneapolis, Kansas City or Denver to get Class B airspace experience. Since there are numerous arrivals and departures at large and small airports within Class B airspace, this type of flying also takes a special level of concentration. Maintaining headings and altitudes are critical.
  5. TIP: With the increased traffic in Class B and C airspace these days, let the controllers HELP you when it comes to separation. You are responsible for traffic separation in VFR so do a good job of scanning and avoid altitude and heading deviations that could result in bigger problems for the controllers. Just fly the plane first and foremost! Search for traffic in segments. If a controller says there’s traffic at your one o’clock, start at eleven or 12 and start scanning
    from left to right in segments. Go past to three o’clock and repeat.
  6. I also have a communication sheet that will help you with the correct phraseology when you are going in and out of Eppley Airfield.

    Kevin Broderick, ATP, CFII and Skyhawk Flying Club Safety Officer

April 2019 Safety Corner

Now that spring is in full swing, I’m sure many of our members want to sharpen theirskills – particularly landing skills. Here are some general tips on shaking the rust offyour landings:

1. Before launching, go over a mental checklist of the pattern in order to completea STABLIZED APPROACH TO LANDING. The checklist should includepower settings/speeds, flaps, carb heat, etc., at different points in the pattern(entering downwind, mid downwind, end of downwind, base, final), altitude,visual references, CCGUMPS checklist (carb heat, cowl flaps, gas,undercarriage, mixture, props, switches – fuel pump, lights, etc.), and radiocommunications.

2. Don’t forget to lower the nose as you add flaps and in approach turns becauseyou will balloon a little, depending on what plane you are in.

3. Re-trim with every configuration change; learn amount of movement of trimwheel to attain a certain speed in my airplane;

4. Find a fix point on final that is 1⁄2 mile from the runway threshold and be atapproximately 400-500 feet AGL at that point;

5. Be completely stabilized at 300-500 feet – correct configuration and correctairspeed within plus or minus 3 knots. It’s all about airspeed and sight patternat that point. Forget power settings. It’s all about what you see (VASI/PAPI –especially at night), feel and AIRSPEED.

6. Aim for the second centerline stripe and land no farther than the third (unlessrunway is very short). PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THE EFFECTS OF THEWIND, ESPECIALLY ON BASE TO FINAL. DO YOU HAVE A TAILWINDOF ANY KIND? IF SO, DON’T OVERSHOOT THE BASE AND PUTYOURSELF IN THE CLASSIC STALL-SPIN SCENARIO OF SKIDDINGINTO THE TURN TOWARD FINAL. ANTICIPATE THE TAILWIND ANDTURN TO FINAL EARLIER.

7. In some cases, you may need to carry a bit of power as in a soft field landing;

8. In a crosswind use wing low method on short final and opposite rudder. Somelike the crab technique until at the end they basically do the wing low/oppositerudder technique. Remember, that ‘slip’ condition will also make you losealtitude quickly so watch your decent rate and adjust.

9. Know when to go around and make that decision early.

10. When touching down, look to the left slightly and look down the runway; notimmediately in front of the airplane. If you try to look over the center of theinstrument panel, you may not be able to see the ground in a full stall attitude –which would be especially true in the Bonanza.

11. Evaluate every landing and apply that knowledge to subsequent landings.

KEVIN BRODERICK, ATP, CFII
SKYHAWK FLYING CLUB SAFETY OFFICER


March 2019 Safety Corner

APRIL SAFETY CORNER
Night Flying – Now that the weather is loosening up a little and daylight saving time has kicked in, you’ll all probably want to get out and get some flying done. Consider doing some night flying to sharpen your skills. If it’s been a while, consider calling an instructor to help you sharpen your depth perception and night flying skills.

  • Currency is three takeoffs and landings to a full stop in category, class, and type within the preceding 90 days.
  • Don’t forget the oxygen recommendation for extended flying above 5,000 at night.
  • Night vision will be severely affected if you become even slightly hypoxic. Is it critical for just night pleasure flying around the area – no. Beneficial on cross country flights at night – yes.
  • Pre-flight will be critical. CHECK all of your lighting inside and out of the plane BEFORE you fly. Nav, beacon and collision lights are critical to your safety at night. Inside, always have red lights or small flashlights readily available when needed. Double check the health of the battery, alternator and voltage regulator before flying so that means paying especially close attention to your preflight checks.
  • If you haven’t flown in a while, you might think about jumping in the plane in the hanger during the day to get a refresher on the cockpit layout. It’s a little tougher at night to spot switches so familiarity is critical.
  • Obviously, make sure weather is not an issue when sharpening your skills. Blundering from night VFR into IMC is not a good situation to be in while trying to shake rust off – at night.
  • If you’re going to Omaha or Lincoln or a large airport, please study the airport diagrams. This is a great training exercise, so make this part of your night flying currency. A large array of bright, multi-colored lights can be very confusing. Study your airport markings and lighting before launching. When landing at a large airport, don’t hesitate to ask for progressive taxi instructions if you’re not sure where to go at night. Better safe than sorry (for you and everyone else).
  • Practice landings with the landing light out. This can be unnerving if you’re not prepared for it. Remember, who knows when your landing light decides to quit working so be prepared.
  • OVERALL, get with me, Tiernan Siems, or Joel Rourke if you feel a little apprehensive about going at night. Get that confidence back by getting out with an instructor and get the ‘feel’ back while flying at night. It’s a great time to go because the air is usually much smoother – especially in the upcoming spring/ summer. Have fun!

Kevin Broderick, ATP, CFII, Skyhawk Flying Club Safety Officer


Safety Corner Tid-Bits – Backup Vacuum?

Here’s a few extra safety items that I think are pertinent about our planes and club. We’ve had a few maintenance issues with the planes lately, including losing the vacuum system in our Piper Arrow PA 28R-201. This obviously is a critical part of our plane, especially if our members are flying in instrument conditions. Although instrument-rated pilots are trained to handle such emergencies, losing your attitude indicator and directional gyro in IMC is always a stressful situation. The Arrow also “boasts” a standby vacuum that can make these situations a non-event . . . . . right?

Well, yes and no.

First of all, it’s important for everyone flying the Arrow to understand the standby vacuum IS NOT a redundant backup system in the way we think a backup system should work.

The SVS operates on the differential between the intake manifold and ambient air pressure, which is then directed through shuttle valve system to drive the flight instruments. It also means specific power settings – in relation to pressure altitudes – must be maintained to produce ADEQUATE vacuum to be somewhat effective – according to the AFM the SVS system Supplement.

Unfortunately, those settings are in the logbooks and usually not in the plane. It also states that if the primary vacuum system is lost, the SVS IS NOT designed for continued IFR flight, and that the PIC should land as soon as possible. Obviously, the autopilot is vacuum directed from the gyros and should be turned off when losing the primary system.

Yes, that sucks if you’re in IFR conditions! Keep in mind the vacuum pressure will be more around 4.0 vs. a standard 4.8-5.1, unless the correct power settings and altitudes are applied.

If that sounds a little nebulous or confusing, you’re right. So . . . . what’s the bottom line?

To be honest, most small planes don’t have standby vacuum’s because they are just an additional cost and are not a redundant system and not totally reliable. For our instrument rated pilots in the club, I believe it’s a whole lot more critical to practice no-gyro flight and approaches rather than rely on the SVS system. The emergency procedures in the AFM Supplement support that by saying to not continue IMC flight and land as soon as possible. Using your blue-toothed Foreflight (to the Garmin 345) to receive directional and attitude information will be preferable.

Kevin Broderick, ATP, CFII, Skyhawk Flying Club Safety Officer


Safety Corner Tid-Bits .. Relief Efforts

It’s been so awesome to see our club members take part in the flood relief efforts this past week. I think everyone who took part had a very satisfying experience helping the residents of Fremont through this very tough time.

While observing the whole process, a few safety concerns came up that many of our pilots thought should be addressed due to the congestion in the air and on the ground in Fremont and Millard. The relief efforts may continue throughout the week, but I’m sure there will be other situations that may arise in the future so here’s some safety tips that they all agreed that might help.

  1. Before accepting relief flights, do spend time studying the departure airport, the destination airport, weather, and any NOTAMS.
  2. Thoroughly pre-flight the airplane and do careful weight and balance
    calculations. You may be taking passengers and they are depending upon you to ensure their safety.
  3. Communicate with ATC before taking off. These types of relief efforts also cause congestion in the air and frequency. If you add in “sight-seeing aviators”, the airspace can be downright chaos and dangerous. It would be preferable to have a second pilot to help with traffic advisories and avoidance.
  4. Communicate when entering an airport traffic area! Be very specific on your location and altitude and listen intently for others in or near the area to avoid any conflicts. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE CORRECT PATTERN ENTRIES USED AT THE DESTINATION AIRPORT.
  5. After landing, exit the runway quickly and carefully taxi to the ramp. Have your passengers use their eyes help you navigate among other planes on the ramp. SHUT DOWN THE ENGINE. There’s nothing more dangerous than a prop turning for your passengers. Please don’t let them go anywhere until YOU walk them off the ramp and into the FBO.

Kevin Broderick, ATP, CFII, Skyhawk Flying Club Safety Officer


February 2019 Safety Corner

According to the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Safety Institute, general aviation has AGAIN had a record setting year seeing a decrease in the overall and fatal accident rates – based on the 27th annual Nall Safety Report. Interestingly, the overall number of accidents increased the past year but the accident rate – based on 100,000 hours flown, actually decreased. The reason is there was an increase in flight activity to 24 million flight hours, which is another positive statistic for general aviation. Consequently, fatal accidents decreased by 4 percent.


Simply put . . . . we were flying more and having fewer fatalities.

The 27th Nall Report included the trends of pilot-related accidents from 2006 to 2015. Obviously most mechanical related accidents are not included as pilot-related but are also reported on. Unfortunately, pilot related accidents account for approximately 74% of all accidents and ALL fatal accidents. Over 90% of all general aviation accidents were personal trips (78%) or instructional (13%).

The Nall Report can be viewed online by clicking here.

The number of pilot-related accidents have steadily decreased during that time and it’s easy to attributed much of that to increased learning, knowledge and instruction. The increased use of technology has improved safety, especially in weather-related situations. The Nall Report showed accident trends in fuel management, weather accidents, takeoff and climb, maneuvering, descent/approach, landing, and other pilot-related or unusual accidents.

The following attachments will give you a better view of the trends taking place in accidents and accident rates. Pretty interesting stuff to look over. I think it shows the importance of ‘continuing education’ for all pilots. With additional knowledge and experience, flying can be a very safe activity for all general aviation pilots. Commercial pilots are required to do ‘continuing education’ through re-current training and checkrides with professional organizations and/or the FAA.

FLY SAFE!

Kevin Broderick, ATP, CFII, Skyhawk Safety Officer


January 2019 Safety Corner

As winter gets further underway a reoccurring topic that comes up is taxiing an airplane during winter time. It requires special attention. So for a quick refresher here are some tips to keep in mind during the cold (and yes they apply to the warm months too!)

Taxiing an airplane during winter time can require special attention.
  • If you’ve noticed the ice buildup in the taxiways at Millard, you’ll notice that taxiing the plane to proper runways can be slippery. Keep your taxi speed very slow, so that you have the ability to stop when a plane “appears” from another hanger taxiway at breakneck speed OR, for that matter, a VEHICLE.
  • Once you hit dry pavement, go through your left, right, and dual brake test. Better to find out on the ground you’ve got one break out or mushy than when you land on a slick runway and you really need it. If you don’t test it, you may end up in the grass (or snow bank) after landing. It’s not uncommon for one break to freeze solid if you taxi through snow and then take off. So that means when you land, have it in the back of your mind that one of your brakes could have frozen solid and may not allow the tire to turn. When you touchdown, it will immediately yaw to the side where the brake is frozen so be prepared.
  • While taxiing at a fast walk, take the time to check your instruments. Is the turn coordinator and ball moving correctly? Is the attitude indicator warmed up? Does the VSI read ‘0’? Cold can play havoc on the instruments, so give them a chance to warm up.
  • Get a feel for the taxiway for grip. If the taxiway is slick, then chances are the runway will be the same. Remember, taking off may not be real difficult on a slightly slick or patchy runway, but landing can be an altogether different story when trying to maintain directional control. Recently a Southwest Airlines flight landing at Eppley found that out the hard way. When taxiing out onto the runway, look down the runway to see if conditions are the same. If you’re not sure, there’s nothing wrong with a fast taxi down the runway to gauge the conditions of the pavement. It will only cost a few dollars in fuel instead of possibly your life later.
  • If the temperature is below 10 degrees F, I would recommend choosing another day to fly. If it drops to 5 degrees or less, club rules forbid any flying. Also, make sure the planes are plugged in and are topped off after each flight this winter season.
  • AS A REMINDER, PLEASE MAKE SURE THE HANGAR DOORS ARE COMPLETELY UP BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO PUT THE PLANES AWAY. IT’S VERY EASY TO THINK “OH, I’LL CLEAR IT” AS THE DOOR IS BEING RAISED. NO, YOU WON’T. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE WHEN SNOW IS ON THE GROUND. IT’S LOWER THAN YOU THINK. WAIT UNTIL YOU DON’T HEAR OR SEE THE DOOR BEING RAISED ANYMORE AND CHECK TO MAKE SURE IT’S AS HIGH AS IT WILL GO. ALSO, PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THE MAINS ON THE YELLOW LINE
  • BEFORE TRANSITIONING TO THE RED LINE (TO LINE UP THE TAIL) WHEN PUTTING IT BACK IN THE HANGER (THE BONANZA IS SLIGHTLY OFF THE YELLOW LINES). REMEMBER TO PLUG IN THE TANNIS PRE-HEAT AND, TURN LIGHTS OFF BEFORE LEAVING.

December 2018 Safety Corner

COLD WEATHER PROCEDURES:

  • Do not fly any of the planes if the outside GROUND temperature is less than 5 degrees Fahrenheit (I think Oracle may have the same policy as Jack had which was a 20 degree limit)
  • Make sure the winterization kit is on the Arrow when temps are consistently below freezing.
  • PLUG IN THE TANNIS PRE-HEAT SYSTEMS ALWAYS WHEN TEMPERATURE IS BELOW 40 DEGREES. Basically, keep them plugged in throughout the winter months even if we have a rare day above 40 degrees!
  • The board recently decided to not FILL/TOP the Arrow and Bonanza during the winter months. The Arrow should be brought up to the TABS when refueled, while the Bonanza should be fueled to the bottom of the collars. The Cessna 172 will continue to be TOPPED during the winter. If you need to have a specific amount on the planes for an upcoming cross country, please notify previous owners who are flying the plane so they can refuel the plane to your needs.
  • Things can get much dirtier in the planes in the winter because we’re tracking in sand and grit. Please do a good job of cleaning the planes on the inside. There are small vacuums in the hangar to help you do this.
  • A CO Patch is a good idea if you’re going on long cross countries. They are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased through Sporty’s and other aviation stores.
  • Check the pitot heat on EVERY pre-flight to make sure adequate heat is being generated. It’s not uncommon to have the heating element go out.
  • If you are at any other airport overnight and have it outside: drain the fuel thoroughly, remove all ice, snow and frost, and work with the FBO for pre-heat options. If you are on a long cross country and will be at your location for a few days, see if the FBO can hangar your plane the night before your departure. It may cost a few dollars, but it’s cheaper than deice fluid and keeps the plane out of the elements before your actual departure. Take a long extension chord with you on a cross country. Many FBOs have electrical outlets on their ramp that you can plug in the Tannis pre-heat.
  • Runway conditions, lengths, and widths are important in the winter, especially on cross country flights. Call the FBO and get their take on runway conditions or you may be in for a surprise.
  • If you can pre-heat the cockpit while you get a cup of coffee or do a long pre-flight – DO IT! Warming the instruments will pay dividends. However, don’t leave any heating elements in the plane unattended.
  • Let the engine warm up thoroughly before taking off. Take your time on taxi procedures and before take-off checklists.
  • The “experts” feel avoiding maneuvers that require low power settings (stalls, MCA, etc.) when temps are below 20 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended.
  • Don’t set parking brakes after heavy use of them in real cold weather. Hot brakes will freeze solid. Let them cool first.
  • When taking off in slushy or snowy runways, re-cycle the gear. The gear has been known to freeze in the wheel well.
  • When landing on snow pack or slush, use the brakes sparingly – just like in a car.
  • By the way, 30 seconds of cranking is like 50 hours of flight time wear and tear on the engine.
  • Avoid icing conditions – if you can’t . . . . . higher airspeed, no flaps on
    landings is recommended if you inadvertently pick up ice.

Kevin Broderick, ATP, CFII, Skyhawk Club Safety Officer