Baby It's Cold and Dark Outside

Flying is the best cure for winter blues.

Dmitri Zakovorotny

Research has shown that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is no joke. When the days get shorter and it's colder outside, people are more prone to depression, anxiety and a variety of other symptoms we used to call simply, the "winter blues." A lot of the recommended remedies involve maximizing our exposure to natural light and fresh air: opening blinds, sitting closer to windows, taking walks at lunchtime, even just bundling up against the cold and sitting outside to soak up the sun.

Winter is also a time when we have a lot less incentive to go out to fly. Preflight chores are a much greater burden when it's frigid outside, or even inside the hangar. Frost on the airframe needs to be cleared, tire pressure should be checked (it's likely you'll have to add air with the lower temperatures), and the engine will need preheating if the overnight temperatures dropped into the 20s. That's a lot less pleasant when the icy wind is blowing.

The upside is that flying can be one of the best cures for winter blues. The time spent planning a trip — even a short hop for lunch — can make those long, dark nighttime hours a lot less oppressive. Preparing my airplane for flight is one of my favorite forms of exercise. And you can't beat the exposure to sunlight you get when you are able to climb above the clouds. I like to think being a few thousand feet closer to the sun helps, too.

And of course, one of the best cures for the ill effects of cold weather is pointing the airplane in the direction "180" on the compass. That's as fine a remedy as there is for winter chills.

Call to action: If you have any tips of your own you'd like to share, or have any questions about flying technique you'd like answered, send me a note at We'd love to hear from you.