Beat the Heat

With warmer weather on the way many pilots around the country will be trading their winter hats and gloves for t-shirts and shorts. If the airplane you fly doesn't have air conditioning you'll want to be sure to plan ahead to avoid roasting in a sun-baked cockpit.

Once you're airborne this isn't usually a problem since the air is cooler at altitude. On the ground it's a different story. You can plan your flights for the early morning or late afternoon hours when the heat of the daytime sun is less acute, but that's not always practical.

I've watched as fellow pilots climbed into a scorching cockpit and then sat like a couple of basted turkeys as they unfolded aeronautical charts, pulled out checklists, plugged in headsets and tended to all sorts of other tasks that led to needless suffering.

If you're about to get into a hot airplane, do as much pre-preparation beforehand, preferably at home or at least while you're sitting in the comfort of your air-conditioned car. That way you can walk straight to the airplane, get the engine running and head for the active.

If you encounter any sort of delay on the ground, make sure loose items in the cockpit are secured and open the windows and doors, letting the prop be your fan. And as always, stay well hydrated by bringing along plenty of water for you and your passengers.

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