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3 Rules-Of-Thumb For Summer Flying

This story was made in partnership with AssuredPartners. Paying too much for aircraft insurance? Get your free quote from AssuredPartners today.

It's not summer yet, but the temps are heating up. Here are 3 great rules-of-thumb to use on the hot days ahead of you.

1) Stay a minimum of 5 miles from storms, and up to 20 miles if you can.

Flying closer than 5 miles from visible overhanging areas in storm clouds puts you at risk of flying through hail and severe turbulence. That's not good for your plane, or your passengers.

In some cases, aircraft have encountered hail, severe wind shear, and severe turbulence up to 20 miles from storms.

When in doubt, keep your distance.


2) Takeoff roll increases about 10% for every additional 1,000 feet of density altitude

On hot days, you get high density altitude and decreased performance.

For most normally-aspirated GA airplanes, you'll add about 10% of takeoff roll for every 1,000' of DA.

For example, if your airport's density altitude on a hot day is 3,200' over field elevation, you'll increase your takeoff roll by about 32% over an ISA day.

If you have a 1,500' takeoff roll on an ISA day, you'll increase that roll to almost 2,000'.


3) Add Half The Gust Factor On Windy Day Landings

When you're dealing with a gusty day, the FAA recommends that you add half the gust factor to your final approach speed to give yourself safe padding from a stall.

For example, if the winds are reported at 18 knots, gusting to 30 knots, it means you have a gust factor of 12 knots (30-18 = 12). So if you take half the gust factor, you get 6 knots (12/2 = 6).


To put this into context, we fly final approach at 85 knots in our Cirrus. So on a day with a 12 knot gust factor, we would add 6 knots to the published 85 knots, for a final approach speed of 91 knots.

The same math works for any GA airplane's final approach speed. Just add half the gust factor to your final approach speed.


What other rules-of-thumb are you using this summer? Tell us in the comments.

Paying too much for aircraft insurance? Get your free quote from AssuredPartners today.

Colin Cutler

Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder and lifelong pilot. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed the development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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