Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Winter Flying

Last week's general meeting featured speaker Tim McSwain who gave a humor filled talk on the special considerations required for winter training. It's not practical to reproduce all of the many points he reminded us about before setting out on cold winter days. But a few that seemed particularly important:

  • Remember the value of recurrent training. It's not mandatory but it could save your life.
  • When GA pilots think of the perils of winter flying most think of icing. But most winter accidents are not caused by icing. So while icing is something to watch out for---most GA aircraft simply do not have the power to get out of encounters with serious ice---there are many other "gotchas" that pilots should be aware of.
  • When considering information (reports on braking, icing, airport runway conditions), always consider the source. e.g. Braking reports from a vehicle (truck) driving down the runway may not be particularly useful to you.
  • Consider the effect of winter weather (snow, slush, ice, etc.) on all phases of flight---taxi, run-up, take-off, climb, cruise, descent, landing and taxi---not just the cruise phase of flight.  There is no substitute for local intel---call the airport ahead to make sure it's open and what sort of condition it is in.
  • Consider the terrain you will be flying over. Bring appropriate gear.
  • Be careful about places where water might collect and freeze---it will seriously affect W&B and flight characteristics.
  • And remove ALL frost.
There were obviously much more in this information packed presentation. The presentation drove home the point about how much there is to know, how much we forget after the PPL check ride, and the value of recurrent training at natural pivot points like the changing of the seasons.

We hope to have Tim back in the spring as a guest speaker. So if you missed him this time, be sure to join us the next time.

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