Sunday, 5 January 2014

Winter flying

Winter has hit hard and quickly this year. Having just experienced my first “ice storm”, I can safely say that I’m in no hurry to experience that again. We were incredibly lucky in that we didn’t lose power and didn’t have to go out in it. It did give some very pretty pictures though.

Today’s flight was probably my first of the “winter season”. The lake’s frozen in places, the apron is slushy in some areas and the planes are sporting their winter kits. All engine starts are definitely of the “cold” variety.

Luckily dispatch are kind to me, keeping the plane in the hanger for me to do my walk round in the warm and dry. On the flip side though, everyone wants that hanger space and your walk round takes on the aspects of an obstacle course, with high wing and low wing planes stacked together like a game of aviation tetris.

It took me a while to get a feel for the increased performance that the cold air brings. Initially I was confused as to how the hell I managed to get to near circuit height by the time I turned crosswind. Then I noticed the pegged VSI, one hell of a rate of climb. It took me a circuit or two to realise I either needed to lay off the flaps a little or keep the power up for slightly longer. In the warm air those planes float for ever. In the winter they like to come back down.

Of course the worst thing about winter flying is that it doesn't look like I'm going to get much of it in. The weather looks to be unsettled for a long time to come and this is frustrating me so much. I got so close and I've come so far and the weather just won't cooperate.

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