When it comes to winter flying, don’t let the weather catch you off guard. Check the following preflight items off your list to ensure a safe and trouble-free flight.
• Before your launch date, watch the weather, focusing on fronts, forecasts, icing and winds aloft.
• Preheat that engine, a must in my book if it’s colder than 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
• If you’re IFR, file for an altitude that’s ice-free.
• Check that your return date looks good too. Never paint yourself into a corner. If you can’t make the return, wait it out or find some other way to get back home until you can retrieve your airplane.
• Know your destination, not just the airport but the region too. Are there mountains? Big lakes? It all matters when it’s icy out there.
• If** you’re VFR, make sure your route of flight leaves you in the clear.
• Get your airplane inside, if you can.
• Dress very warmly. Wear good gloves. Snow is cold.
• If you need to clean your airplane of snow or ice, arrive early and get it completely cleaned off in time to fly. Leave the family inside the FBO or car, but by all means, get the teenagers to help.
• Get your airplane deiced if necessary.
• Know your alternates. When flying in winter, it’s often more than an exercise.
• Watch the winds. Winter brings big winds, both aloft and on the surface.
• Make sure you have enough fuel to fight that headwind and enough margins to safely land with gusty winds. In the winter, increase the fuel reserves.