Pay Attention to Sloped Parking

Prevent bent metal with a few precautionary steps.

Tip Kern Valley
Tip Kern Valley

While paved areas at airports are generally flat, there are times when runways, taxiways and parking areas are sloped. While sloped runways and taxiways in some cases require extra attention, sloped parking areas can cause major problems.

I recently visited a beautiful airport in the southern part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains called Kern Valley Airport (L09) near Kernville, California. There is a terrific cafe and a beautiful campground at the airport, so, while the airport itself is small, the parking areas can get quite busy. The parking area near the cafe fits several rows of airplanes and it slopes severely toward the base of the valley.

In a situation like this it is likely that an unsecured airplane will roll, so you need to make sure that yours is properly secured at all times. If you are used to shutting the airplane down, stepping out and placing a chock behind one of the main wheels, you may end up watching in horror as your airplane begins to pick up speed, rolling toward another airplane. And once the airplane begins to roll, you are unlikely to be able to stop the 3,000-pound-plus chunk of metal or composite.

Setting the parking brake may keep the airplane in place until you have put a couple of chocks on the wheels and secured the airplane with chains or ropes. But the best solution is to have one person in the cockpit holding the brakes while another person steps out to secure the airplane. A little extra precaution at a sloped parking area keeps your airplane intact, and the action is likely to be appreciated by the owners of the airplanes that are parked behind you too.

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