Last week brought record heat to the west coast, with temperatures reaching beyond 100 degrees in my neck of the woods. It was a perfect time to fly to Phoenix for a story — not. But alas, a trip to the city in the desert was on my schedule. It was a good opportunity to test out the heat tolerance of my Mooney and I had to use some tricks to keep the airplane from overheating.
It was 107 degrees at the Sky Harbor International Airport as I preflighted the Mooney M20C outside Cutter’s FBO in the blazing afternoon sunshine. After a successful runup and departure, I monitored the oil and cylinder head temperatures regularly during the climb. In order to keep me and my airplane happy I had decided to climb up to 8,500 feet on my way back to the west coast, an altitude at which I was able to enjoy temperatures in the mid 70s.
The best rate of climb speed in the M20C is 100 mph, but I lowered the nose and climbed at 120-130 mph to keep the temperature gauges well in the green. Another step that I made to prevent the engine from overheating was to keep the mixture a little richer than I normally would during the long climb. While the temperatures were extreme that day, a couple of slight adjustments to my normal procedures kept the engine purring.
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