Click one of the following options to advance to it.

Safety Checklist
**Printable Safety Checklist**
Pilot info
Icing info
Additional tips

Winter is fast approaching and itís time to start thinking about winter flight operations and preparing you and your aircraft for the colder weather ahead. The following are some tips for making winter flying safer and more enjoyable.

back to top

Check the heater and defroster/ determine that they are working properly and that there are no exhaust leaks.

Check the battery/ determine that it will provide sufficient voltage for cold weather operations.

Check the oil/ use lighter grade of engine oil or good multi-grade oil.

Remove the wheel pants/ if you take off and land in water, snow or ice.

Check the pitot tube/ test it to determine if it is working properly.

Check de-icing equipment/ determine if it is functioning properly.

Check engine pre-heating system/ determine that it functions properly.

Check survival kit/ determine that kit is complete and contains fresh supplies.

Check alternate static system/ determine if it is functions properly.

Check pitot-static system, altimeter, transponder, VORs/ to determine that they meet FAR requirements if IFR flight is anticipated.

Check seals around fuel caps/ determine if they provide adequate seal to prevent moisture from leaking into fuel tanks.


back to top

While flying from mild climates into colder climates, wear clothes that provide adequate protection at the colder destination. Dress for where you are going, not where you depart.

Review cold weather operations for your aircraft in the Pilotís Operating Handbook.

If flight into the mountainous areas is anticipated, wear adequate footwear that will allow your feet to stay warm and dry and provide support should you have to hike away from the aircraft.

Do not fly if you have a cold or are taking medications that will impair your ability to fly an airplane.


back to top

Before flight, obtain a complete weather briefing, even if you are only flying locally. Use the Area Forecast to obtain information on possible icing conditions. Also, request Pilot Reports to ascertain if icing conditions have been encountered along your route of flight.

Before your flight and/or during your flight, pay attention to rapid changes in weather and temperatures. Remember that if you are flying IFR, there will usually be a temperature drop when entering a cloud. If the temperature is close to freezing in the clear air, icing can be expected in the cloud. Also, while flying in the mountains of the west, high MEAs usually equal freezing temperatures.

If aircraft begins to accumulate ice, have a plan to get out of the icing conditions. A 180 degree turn, a climb or descent should immediately be executed.

Note- Types of icing intensities and airframe ice accumulation:

Trace- Ice becomes perceptible. Rate of accumulation slightly greater than rate of sublimation. It is not hazardous even though de-icing/anti-icing equipment is not used unless encountered for an extended period of time-over one hour.

Light- The rate of accumulation may create a problem if flight is prolonged in this environment (over one hour). Occasional use of de-icing/anti-icing equipment removes/prevents accumulation. It does not present a problem if the de-icing/anti-icing equipment is used.

Moderate- The rate of accumulation is such that even short encounters become potentially hazardous and use of de-icing/anti-icing equipment or diversion is necessary.

Severe- The rate of accumulation is such that de-icing/anti-icing equipment fails to reduce or control the hazard. Immediate diversion is necessary.

Note- Icing may be rime, clear or mixed.

Rime ice- Rough milky opaque ice formed by the instantaneous freezing of small super cooled water droplets.

Clear ice- A glossy, clear or translucent ice formed by the relatively slow freezing of large supercooled water droplets.

Mixed ice- A combination of rime and clear ice.


Additional Tips-
back to top

RememberóIf your aircraft is not certificated for flight into known icing conditions, you are not legal to fly in known icing conditions.


If you fly a retractable gear aircraft and take off on a wet or slushy runway, and the temperatures are near, at or below freezing, remember to cycle you gear several times after takeoff to be sure that the gear is not frozen in the "gear up" position.


If your static ports freeze, use your alternate static source. If you do not have an alternate static source, break the glass on the VSI. This will allow venting into the cockpit.


Some pitot heating systems, especially systems designed for aircraft not certified for flight in known icing conditions, will not handle extremely cold temperatures and be able to melt ice build up on the pitot tube.


When approaching to land with ice on the aircraft, do not use flaps and keep the approach speed 130% to 140% of Vso. Use of flaps will create too much drag.


If icing conditions are encountered, report it to ATC. Other pilots need to know. Advise ATC if you need assistance in immediately exiting the area of icing conditions.

Remove all ice, frost and/or snow from the aircraft before flight.