MNPilots Hangar Flying
Time to review your Survival Kit
December 1, 2017
Winter is upon us as we near the Christmas Season. The first major snowstorm is upon us as I write this column, a bit of a shock as we have basked in unusually warm weather for Minnesota this fall.
We have been spoiled to enjoy wearing tee shirts well into November, something I don't recall being able to do in the past. I have allowed myself to be drawn into a bit of complacency, admittedly, procrastinating getting the snow blower ready at the hangar, failing to get the engine blanket ready...you know the drill.
With winter and cold temperatures comes the terrific performance that accompanies December. Our aircraft seem to want to jump off the runway, climb like a banshee as we experience the joy of flight. Smooth air is the rule. Terrific visibility is often experienced.
It is time to remind ourselves that we need to prepare our bird for flight, plug in the Tanis heater, throw on that engine blanket, check our tire pressures, change oil to a lower weight to facilitate easy starting on the coldest of days.
I like to make sure I have an extra pair of insulated gloves or mittens in the aircraft, as well as a stocking hat and a sleeping bag for each of the occupants of the aircraft.
In my survival kit is also a half dozen of the large, 5-mil contractors black garbage bags, tucked inside a zip lock bag. These will serve me well if I need to improvise shelter, or act as an over-bag for my sleeping bag should I have a forced landing out away from towns. I want to make sure I have a way of starting a fire, using my favorite methods (to each their own) to do so.
It is also a time to review cold weather operations here in the frozen North. We need to pay attention to icing forecasts and remind ourselves that we need to immediately get out of icing conditions if so encountered.
Those preflight briefings become even more important. Check out runway conditions both at departure and arrival airports, making phone calls if need be to gather important information.
We are blessed to have exceptional people keeping our runways open here in Minnesota, with kudos to MnDOT Aeronautics and our local airport maintenance crews.
I would like to put a plug in for the airport maintenance crews, those men and women who are often up in the wee hours of the frigid mornings plowing our runways. These folks would welcome a "thank you" from us, particularly at this time of the year. They keep us safe. They keep us in the air. Take a moment to buy them a pecan pie, or a ham, or some other token of your appreciation for what they do.
We join together to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We hope you will continue to support the Minnesota Pilots Association as we look forward to good things in the coming year!