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.