Flying in Extreme Heat

Climb at higher airspeeds on hot days.

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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