November 06, 2011

Winter Flying - Part 1

As all Canadians know, winter here can be pretty interesting. Since I'm starting to see snow in some weather forecasts, and have had to get frost cleared off the wings of my plane, I've decided to share some of the information I've gathered regarding flying in the winter.

Weather in the winter can be a lot more unpredictable than during the summer, therefore it's important to get the greatest sense of the weather as possible. Check the METARs and TAFs of not only your own airport, but also nearby ones, to give an indication of what weather may be coming your way. Take a look at the GFAs to see what different weather systems are active in your region, and also check various weather RADAR sources. Finally, check out your average weather reports, such as from Environment Canada or The Weather Network.

Make sure that you and all your passengers are wearing clothing that is appropriate for survival conditions. Make sure you are properly equipped to stay warm incase you happen to land somewhere other than an aerodrome.

Speaking of survival, make sure you file a flight plan, so that rescue services will get to you quickly if you happen to not make it to your destination.

As I learned last weekend, it takes more than just a visual inspection of your airplane to make sure that it's safe to fly. As I was doing my walkaround, the wings looked clear, but when I felt them, I noticed a thin layer of frost, therefore when you do your walkaround in the winter, use your hands too.

Before you go out, make sure the clothes you're wearing are warm and comfortable, because it is a big mistake to rush through your walkaround to get back into a warm building, especially in the winter.

Also, it is advisable to preheat your engine before you start it, but I'll include links that describe this process.

Operating on the Ground
FIrst of all, make sure that you check your NOTAMs carefully, because as we near snowy and icy conditions, NAVCANADA publishes the runway and taxiway surface conditions in the NOTAM.

When taxiing, make sure to taxi at a safe speed that will allow you to stop with minimal usage of the brakes, so that you will not be affected by any ice on the taxiways.

After I gain more experience in winter flying (this is my first winter flying season :P), I will create Part 2 of Winter Flying. Until then, check out these links:

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