Tips for Flying Your Aircraft in Summer
Here are some summer safety tips for pilots from Monmouth Executive Airport in New Jersey.
- Perform ground leaning: Hot days mean ambient air is less dense and if your fuel system is set too rich, this can lead to your engine running rough, carbon building up on your sparkplugs and – as a result – reduced power for takeoff. You can prevent this issue by manually leaning the mixture during your procedures on the ground.
- Hot starts: If you have an engine that utilizes fuel injection rather than carburetion, you’ll find that it can be more difficult to start on hot days. There’s no one-size-fits-all hot start procedure, so check your manual for what works on your engine (the wrong procedure may actually damage your engine). To prevent having to do a hot start, park in the shade where possible and face directly into any wind. Leave the cowl flaps open to ventilate the engine compartment.
- Fuel venting: Aviation fuel expands as temperatures rise, so it’s common to see fuel dripping from a wing vent on a hot day. Avoid this wastage by not filling tanks completely to the brim if your aircraft is out in the heat.
- Turbulence: Hot air off the surface of the Earth leads to greater turbulence close to the ground, causing more unpleasant or even dangerous flight conditions in very hot areas. Avoid this by planning flights before noon or in the early evening, cruising at least 5,000 feet above the ground on hot days, reducing time spent at lower altitudes and following weather briefing reports to avoid dust clouds.
- Thunderstorms: Frontal and air-mass thunderstorms and severe weather often accompany hot summer days, making a scantest of pre-flight weather briefings essential through the summer. You can also spot these weather conditions as they start to form by watching for warning signs that include – humidity around 50% and dew point within 5 degrees F, winds aloft from a body of water, high-pressure systems with a colder-than-usual air loft, unstable air, winds blowing upslope, hail warnings, multiple pilot reports of cumulus clouds and turbulence.
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