The snow is starting to melt and the temperatures are finally climbing upwards, which means the warmer months of spring and summer are right around the corner. Many pilots pack their bags and take off into the skies to explore new areas or go on vacations with their friends and families. In fact, pilots often think of spring and summer as the perfect time to fly. But, before you go anywhere, make sure you have read these tips for flying in warmer weather:
Plan for heat and humidity.
Pilots often moan and groan about flying in the winter, but flying in the warmer weather can be just as challenging because of the changes in temperature and humidity levels. Hot temperatures and high levels of humidity can affect your plane’s battery and avionics and lower visibility. To avoid running into problems mid-flight, check your aircraft’s performance chart to see if it’s safe to fly in the current conditions.
Be prepared for ice.
Ice is mainly a problem in the winter, but it can still be an issue in warmer weather. Depending on where your aircraft is stored, you may still see frost on the wings first thing in the morning. When there’s ice on certain parts of the plane, the aircraft’s lift will be affected. Ice needs to be removed before you take off otherwise it could be a safety hazard once you’re up in the air. Use a deicing fluid to remove the frost from the aircraft before takeoff. Most products can be sprayed directly onto the surface of your plane to break up the ice.
Whereas you have to avoid snowstorms in the winter, pilots have to avoid thunderstorms in the rainy, hot months of spring and summer. Pilots can plan to avoid frontal thunderstorms, which are easy to detect on weather forecasts, however they may have more trouble spotting air-mass thunderstorms in the sky. Air-mass thunderstorms are weaker than other types of storms, but they tend to form quickly and subtly, so pilots often do not know they’re about to fly into or near one. They are most common in the summer during the afternoon hours, and are typically found along the Gulf Coast, but even if you’re not flying in this direction, you should be prepared.
How can you avoid air-mass thunderstorms? You could choose to only fly during the mornings or the early evenings when these thunderstorms are less likely to form. But, this means you could miss out on longer trips that require you to fly into the afternoon. If you have to fly during the hours where air-mass thunderstorms are more common, at least know the signs that you could be approaching this type of weather. For example, humidity levels above 50% combined with a temperature and dew point-spread within 5 degrees Fahrenheit indicate that an air-mass thunderstorm is likely. Other signs include a strong jetstream above your flight path, and wind blowing from a body of water, which means more moisture is being added to the air.
Pack a bag.
As previously mentioned, air-mass thunderstorms can pop up unexpectedly in the warmer months. Although these thunderstorms tend to pass quickly, you may end up having to cut your flight short or delay your take off if there’s a slow moving storm passing through. Prepare for this situation by bringing a bag of personal items with you whenever you take flight, even if you plan on returning the same day. This will come in handy if you have to make an unexpected stop or put off your flight home for another day to avoid bad weather conditions.
Clean your aircraft thoroughly.
You may not have to worry about birds and bugs during the winter, but in the spring and summer, these become a major concern to pilots. Depending on where you are, you may need to plan on washing the bugs off of your plane after every flight. Look for a debugging product that dissolves the proteins in bugs for a fast and easy cleaning. If you store your plane outdoors when it’s not in use, you may need to spend time removing animal waste with an aircraft cleaner and a soft cloth. Add this to your pre-flight inspection list during the warmer months so you don’t forget.
Plan for longer days.
There are more hours of sunlight during the summer than there are in the winter, which means you won’t have to fly as much at night. Because the days become longer in the spring and summer, you may find yourself taking advantage of the daylight and spending more time in the sky. Be sure you always get enough rest prior to taking off so you don’t get drowsy mid-way through the flight. Your body may be used to winding down in the evening because of the reduced amount of daylight in the winter, so ease your way into taking longer flights in the summer so you don’t overdo it.
Put a shade on your windows.
The sun is blazing during the spring and summer, so be sure to protect the inside of your aircraft by placing a shade in your windows when you leave your aircraft outside during the day. If you don’t put a shade in your windows, the sun can harm the leather seats inside your cockpit. A lot of heat can also transfer inside your cockpit, which will make you uncomfortable once you return to your aircraft.
Regardless of when you plan on flying, there’s one product that will help you get where you need to go: Bright Work polish. Use the three-step Bright Work polishes to remove oxidation, cloudiness, and water spots from the surface of your aircraft before you take flight. Not only will Bright Work remove damage on the surface of your plane, it will also make it sparkle and glisten under the spring and summer sun!