Every pilot wants to be in the sky as much as possible, but there comes a time where every pilot has to land and put the plane in storage. This is especially common in the cold winter months when poor flying conditions keep a lot of pilots away from their planes. Where do planes go when they’re not being used? There are two options when it comes to storing your plane: you can either keep it in a hangar, or you can tie it down outdoors. Before you decide what you want to do with your plane, learn a little bit more about both of these options.
Storing Your Plane in a Hangar
The first thing you should know about storing your plane in a hangar is that it’s expensive, which is why many aircraft owners look for other options. Storing your plane in a hangar can cost as much as $500 a month, so you have to calculate whether you can afford this before making this decision.
Although it is expensive, a hangar offers much more protection to your plane when you’re not around. Hangars are indoor storage areas, so you don’t have to worry about what will happen to your aircraft if there are extreme weather conditions or even a natural disaster. Therefore, using a hangar may be worth the money because of the extra protection it provides.
There are two types of hangars you will have to choose from: the t-shaped hangar and shared hangar. The t-shaped hangar is just as its name suggests—shaped like the letter “t” so the aircraft can comfortable fit into the space. Shared hangars are less expensive than t-shaped hangars, but you will have to share the space with other pilots. This is a great opportunity to meet other like-minded people, but you may have to deal with “hangar rash,” which is the industry term for damage that occurs while a plane is stored in a hangar. This can happen when there are too many aircrafts in one hangar or the aircrafts are placed too close together. Hangar rash is often caused by the negligence of a pilot or someone else who is on the property, which is why it’s crucial that you take the time to get to know the other people in the shared space before agreeing to store your plane there. It can also occur in hangars that are not properly maintained. Do your research to ensure you are picking a reputable hangar that won’t put your plane in harm’s way.
It’s important to check for hangar rash as soon as possible after you take your plane out of storage. Look for any signs of damage, including dents, scratches, and chipped paint, that could indicate another plane made contact with yours.
Tying Down Your Plane
It’s much cheaper to tie down your plane instead of storing it in a hangar, but there are some risks to doing so. Planes that are tied down are left exposed to environmental elements. Water, sunlight, hail, snow, and wind can all be damaging to your plane. If you live in an area with bad weather, it may not be wise to keep it tied down. Any parts that are damaged will need to be repaired, and if your plane is in bad shape because of exposure to environmental elements, you may end up spending more on repairs than you would have if you just paid the hangar fee. Talk to other pilots in your area who tie down their planes to determine the average costs of repairs. This will help you calculate whether it’s actually cheaper to go with this option.
The designated parking area at the airport should have fixed tie-down points, but if you can always call ahead to ask whether these are available. The Federal Aviation Administration recommends that pilots with single engine aircrafts who choose to tie their planes down use anchors equipped to resist up to 3,000 pounds. Make contact with someone at the airport to ensure the equipment you are using follows this recommendation.
Once you arrive to the designated area, it’s recommended that you use the 3-point tie-down method. Using this method, pilots secure their airplanes in place by tying down both of the wings and the tail. Check the slack on the rope to ensure there is about one inch of movement. If there’s more than this, the aircraft will still be able to jerk around in windstorms and may suffer damage as a result. Ropes that are tied too tight can put stress on the plane that could also lead to damage. This method is preferred because it stabilizes the plane and prevents it from tipping to the side if exposed to strong winds.
Pilots who are having trouble securing their plane should always ask for help. If you walk away from your plane feeling uncertain that it is securely tied down, turn back around and look for someone who can help. Once you have secured your plane, make sure you remove any debris that could cause damage if it’s picked up and blown around. You should also quickly scan the other planes that are tied down near yours. If a pilot doesn’t properly secure his plane, it could easily fall over and collide with another plane in the parking area. Pay close attention to the planes that are right next to yours, and if you think one is not fastened correctly, move to a different spot and alert someone at the airport.
Regardless of whether you choose to store your plane in a hangar or tie it down outdoors, be sure to carefully inspect your plane for damage after you take it out of storage. You should also thoroughly clean and polish your plane after it has been in storage to ensure it is ready for flight.