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5 Of The Best Winter Flying Tips

This story was made in partnership with AOPA. Ready to join the largest aviation community in the world? Sign up and become an AOPA Member today.

Winter is officially here, and most of us are preflighting with our gloves on. Here are some tips to stay safe every time you fly this winter.

1) Plan how your want to preheat your engine.

Starting a cold aircraft engine without preheating causes excessive piston wear. If it's below freezing and your plane has been outside or in an unheated hangar, it's best to preheat your engine before you fly.

Click here to learn about 3 of the most popular preheat methods.


2) Call the airport to check runway conditions.

Winter hazards aren't limited to non-towered airports. While plows are clearing the runways, they can leave ice or slush on the surface. That means you're dealing with a contaminated surface when you land.


3) Consider how the weather has changed between when reports were filed and your arrival time.

Sun can melt snow into slush, which can quickly pull you off the runway centerline. And slush will freeze into ice as the temperature drops, making directional control difficult, as well as reducing your braking action.


4) Plan for advection fog.

Advection fog forms when moist air moves over an already cold surface. The air cools quickly at the surface, and the temperature reaches its dew point. As the air becomes saturated, it condenses into a low-lying cloud layer.

Swayne Martin

5) Clean the frost off your plane before you go.

Because frost disrupts airflow over your entire aircraft, it can increase drag by up to 40%, and decrease lift by up to 30%. In the past 10 years, there have been over 30 general aviation accidents related to aircraft taking off with frost. Each one could have been prevented by removing frost from the airplane.


What other winter flying tips do you have? Tell us in the comments below.

Ready to join the largest aviation community in the world? Sign up and become an AOPA Member today.

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