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When the Weather Starts to Cool, Be Prepared: Tips for Flying in Fall

Fall is officially here, and as a pilot, there are several things that you should know to ensure your flight goes according to plan. So when the weather starts to cool, be prepared with these tips for flying in the fall season.

Understand How Cool Weather Affects Airplane Performance

If you do the majority of your flying during late spring and summer, you may not be used to the increase in airplane performance as the cooler temperatures sets in. Since colder air is denser than warm air, more air enters the engine and it outputs more power. In addition, airlift is improved when the air is denser. So, if you take off in colder conditions and notice a boost in acceleration and an easier take-off, you’ll know why.

Update Your Emergency Gear

Make sure to update your emergency kit with warm clothing, fire starting supplies, some type of shelter, flare gun and other essentials as fall comes around. In case of an emergency, you don’t want to be exposed to the cooling temperatures. For more information about essential emergency winter when flying in the cold, check out this guide.

Make Winterization Preparations

Winter can come up pretty fast, particularly in the Midwest. For those that own an airplane, making winterization preparations early can help you keep your plane in tip-top shape and away from the damaging elements brought about by the changing seasons. Most pilots choose to rent a spot in a hangar to protect their planes, putting them into storage around the month of November. However, this can be pretty pricey and some choose to rent an outside tie-down to store their plane. Regardless of where you store it over the winter, make sure to run through the basic winterization steps, prior to putting it away, including:

  • Change the oil.
  • Add one quart of preservative oil as part of the oil change if you won’t be flying it all winter.
  • Conduct a short flight to supply the entire engine with new oil.

Refer to your manual for a more comprehensive list of how to winterize your specific aircraft.

Know The Dangers of Icing

As the weather turns cooler, one of the more dangerous components of flying becomes more prominent, particularly at high altitudes – ice. While summer flyers may not be concerned about ice (depending on where you’re flying, of course) fall can be particularly challenging in keeping it off your aircraft. When ice develops on the wings and tail, it reduces lift and can cause the plane to stall–never a good situation for a pilot to be in. 

Understand Preheating Procedures

Just as you warm up your car before leaving in the cold, your plane’s engine needs time to warm up, as well. Each plane has a unique preheating procedure, so become familiar with its requirements for cold-weather starting and always use extra caution in terms of fire prevention. Check out this checklist to make sure you’re going through all the right preflight steps before flying in cold weather.

Consider Airplane Detailing Before Storing Your Plane

Before putting it into storage or under a tarp for winter, you may want to consider detailing your airplane. This will help protect the paint job from harmful ice, snow and other moisture, while making sure it’s ready to go when spring comes. If you’ve never detailed your airplane before, here’s a quick guide to get you started.

Are you ready to learn to how to fly?

No matter what season it is, it’s never a bad time to start flight school. And the team at Inflight Pilot Training can help get you off the ground. With a full team of certified flight instructors, an impeccable record of safety and a commitment to our students’ success, we’re the best team to help you obtain the pilot certification you want. 


For additional information on Inflight training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.