To cold to fly....

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by GBSoren, Dec 25, 2017.

  1. GBSoren

    GBSoren Pre-takeoff checklist

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    At what point do you just say it's to cold? When I was doing my flight training my CFI didn't like to go when it was below about 20 F, said he thought it was harder on the air cooled engines. The 10 day forecast here is southern MN only has 1 day with highs about 20, lot's of days the highs will be around 0.

    Just curious what others "comfort level" is with the cold.
     
  2. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have flown below zero. The plane was in a heated hangar which made it easier to get going. Its fun to fly on a crisp cold sunny day. You need really good gloves so you don't get frostbite from pushing the plane back in.

    I wouldnt do this in the evening. Carry some form of a survival kit and make sure someone knows where you are going. Also, have more than one means of emergency communication (handheld and plb).
     
  3. GRG55

    GRG55 En-Route

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    The gas heater in my Aztec is a blast furnace compared with the exhaust heat muffs on my prior piston singles.
    I'll fly in temperatures down to about 5 deg F if the sun is shining on the ramp. Colder than that, I find refuelling becomes a chore I would rather avoid.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2017
  4. N659HB

    N659HB Pattern Altitude

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    No real cabin heat in the Luscombe, so I typically don't fly when it's less than 50 degrees F or so. That's my limitation, not the airplane's!
     
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  5. Norman

    Norman En-Route Gone West

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    I used to know a guy who had no choice but to fly in extreme cold. He, and I, worked for a company that transported checks every night. That was before electronic transfer became common. He flew while wearing his snowmobile suit. He also carried winter survival gear just in case.

    Once the engines are warmed to operating temperature the only other consideration should be cabin comfort. Cold air ain't gonna bother the airframe.
     
  6. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Curious as to what his reasoning was behind that. Sounds like one of those CFI developed theories.

    As for me, it typically doesn’t get below 20F here, and that’s usually just in the morning hours. The only time the cold really bothers me is if I’m not dressed for it or it’s windy and cold. Doing the preflight in cold, windy conditions isn’t fun.
     
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  7. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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    Too cold is when it is too cold to be fun. Clothing mitigates that to a point, as long as one can move to work the controls and is comfortable. It is too cold when the cold causes me to rush a pre-flight to get out of the cold. It is too cold if the engine can't get to a good operating temperature (hasn't happened to me yet). Too cold for me is likely not cold for Alaskans.
     
  8. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ask that CFI what the limitation is for that plane at that temperature. Harder on an "air cooled" engine, think about that statement.
     
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  9. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Below 30 and it doesn’t get much fun for me even if the plane has heat.
     
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  10. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller En-Route

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    More likely it was too cold for the CFI, not the engine. just sayin'.

    It is never too cold for Santa in his open cockpit! Merry Christmas!
     
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  11. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    My coldest takeoff was 8°F. Preflight was not fun, at least no wind inside the hangar!
     
  12. Justin M

    Justin M Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I don't mind the cold, I have several flights at 20 degrees. The process of pre-heating is fun. The planes I've flown warm up nicely once the engine is started. Usually I remove the outer wear before climbing into the seat knowing I'll be down to a tee-shirt once I'm underway. Those moments with the pre-start check list and priming are a little cold.

    Once the flight is over, I do everything I can to wrap up the flight before I open the door, even though its a little awkward to turn around and pack up my flight bag from the front seat. I'm glad the club planes are at the end of the row.
     
  13. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Once I ferried a Florida airplane halfway across the US right behind a bitterly cold, cold front.
    I failed to verify function of the cabin heater before departing.
    Well, apparently lots of FL airplanes have their heat controls wired closed to prevent them from creeping open.
    This one also had very leaky cold air vents.
    I put on all the clothing I had brought with me and I reached back to the emergency kit and broke open the space blanket, wrapping it around me. At the first stop, I was in early hypothermia - uncontrolled chattering of jaw, bluish extremities etc. The fbo hot chocolate never tasted so good!
    Once warmed up, I got some duct tape from the fbo, taped over the cold inlets on the wing and headed to warm air!
     
  14. Stewartb

    Stewartb En-Route

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    -40 was my coldest but my cutoff for wanting to go is warmer, like -10, and that depends on the weather report and what it is I intend to do on the arrival end. The -40 flight was to get back to town because it was going to get colder and the cabin was already hard to keep warm.
     
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  15. AKBill

    AKBill Cleared for Takeoff

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    Typically I don't fly much below 0. I park outside preheating, cabin cover, wing covers, tail cover, engine cover and fueling get to be a PITA. I'm lucky I live in the warm part of Alaska and we don't see minus temperatures to often...:)

    Once in the air my heater does a good job keeping the cabin at a very comfortable T-shirt temperature. Yesterday I shut the heater off and just used the defroster, it was about 12 degrees...
     
  16. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I flew one winter day with a POAer who shall remain nameless but let’s call her @Everskyward. She ran the heat controls since they were on her side of the panel. My only comment was that I didn’t know the controls would even go to that high of a setting.

    There are unadvertised advantages to a turbo system and one of them is that there is a lot of heat available for defrost and cabin air. That said I still embrace the advice that one should dress for the weather then roll down the windows and enjoy it.
     
  17. steingar

    steingar Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I’ve taken off in the single digits, but at that point I had better be on a mission. I rarely fly in those conditions to just bore holes in the sky.
     
  18. Stewartb

    Stewartb En-Route

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    If you’re pre-flighting in cold temps you’re already dressed for them. Dress like you’ll have to walk home. The hardest part of that is cold temps require defrost because your breath and body moisture instantly fog the windows. Having full defrost AND the fresh air vents open is common.
     
  19. Stingray Don

    Stingray Don Pattern Altitude

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    I fly for fun. Below 25 degrees, it’s not fun.
     
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  20. brian]

    brian] Cleared for Takeoff

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    Cold air = turbo boost!
     
  21. Stewartb

    Stewartb En-Route

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    7765D615-D89A-442C-A22D-87672B5B79F3.jpeg Winter eventually gives way to spring. In Alaska the spring days get into the 20s and clear nights drop into the minus teens. It’s my favorite time of year to fly!
     
  22. tawood

    tawood Cleared for Takeoff

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    If you preheat, the engine does fine. The controlling factor is your comfort.
    I had a Cessna 150 that was uncomfortable below +40F. My piper is completely fine at -30F ( I know because last winter I flew at altitude at -30)
     
  23. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Depends, some planes have limitations.

    For my personal plane, I've had her out in -10f ish, personally if it has a - before the number I don't like to go up
     
  24. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    It's 15f right now, windchill 5f. I turned the engine heater on last night about 11 pm. Big boo-boo is not having the oil cooler cover on (lycoming o-360) because this is the first really cold temps we've had all season (denver). I'll head out to the airport after breakfast, put the oil cooler cover on, and just wander around in DA well below actual elevation of 5500 msl.
     
  25. oregonboy109

    oregonboy109 Line Up and Wait

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    We stop flying at -25 ambient. Anything above that is fair game.
     
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  26. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route

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    If the cooling air is too cold you'll shock cool your engine. Everyone knows that!

    The risk of the really cold is IMHO only during engine start because it takes longer to get the oil up where it is needed. So, if you don't have an engine heater, or some precautions in your hangar, the CFI might be correct.

    If you can start the engine safely and there is not frost or ice on the exterior go flying!
     
  27. AKBill

    AKBill Cleared for Takeoff

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    I use HVAC aluminum foil tape over the oil cooler.
     
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  28. mondtster

    mondtster Pattern Altitude

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    This is really a CFI in Minnesota with this threshold? Was this guy a transplant? Whatever the case, he must not want to fly very much in the winter. I hope he isn't trying to make a living instructing... :)

    I learned to fly up in North Dakota and northern Minnesota, during the winter. Until close to the end of my training I don't think I ever saw a surface temperature of greater than +10F. My personal limit on when I quit being motivated to fly is probably around -10F, but I'll continue to go if I have to, at any temperature I regularly see.
     
  29. KaiGywer

    KaiGywer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Flew KBIS-KRUG-KBIS at night to knock out the commercial XC...at night...in January. Roughly -35C. That 172 was a rocket ship
     
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  30. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    You like it so cold that I'm surprised you knew there was a heater in your airplane. ;)
     
  31. cowman

    cowman En-Route

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    Pre-heat below freezing, several hours if below 20. I'll fly down to 0 as long as I can preheat.

    For training I've been told the frequent transition to idle/full power in touch and gos/stall work is hard for the engine although I really don't see why it should be.
     
  32. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    When I flew in Alaska, we stopped operations at -38f to -40f. Not because it was hard on the pilots but because it was hard on the little things, like door hinges, plastic interior parts, vinyl seats, tires, etc...

    We had electric tanis heaters on the engine cases that would keep the cylinders warm as well as the oil temp. Then engine covers and cowl plugs. Usually on the first start of the morning the oil temp would be close to operating temperature. Now the oil in the line going to the gauge would be frozen so the oil pressure gauge would read "0" for up to 10 minutes before thawing.

    We started covering and heating the planes at around 20f. The engines had winterizing kits partially covering the oil cooler(s) and closing off some air to the cylinders. Below "0" degrees I never opened the cowl flaps.

    Very true. Every winter we would have to turn down a few passengers that were not dressed for the conditions. If we land somewhere besides an airport, you ain't getting my jacket.


    A C-207 loaded to Max T/O weight will climb out of the traffic area before crossing the end of the runway at -4000 density altitude..!!! :lol::lol:
     
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  33. eman1200

    eman1200 Final Approach

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    it was about 30 degrees this morning which is ok but it was windy. that might have been the coldest, or at least felt the coldest I've flown in.
     
  34. MIFlyer

    MIFlyer Line Up and Wait

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    no one else has mentioned that a mighty 160hp Skyhawk becomes a hot rod when the DA is -3,000 ft and temp is 25F. The altimeter setting at our sea level field was 30.60 last week with an OAT of 30F

    club policy says no running the aircraft if they've been cold soaked below 20F. We are parked on the ramp, so it usually take an hour or two of rotating the AC to keep the sun on it to melt the ice fully off that is the biggest hassle (just sit in your car and fiddle with the computer while you wait for it to melt. a hangar someday....
     
  35. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I’ve gotten a little chilly a few times but mostly just use the defroster...
     
  36. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    I am good down to about 30 degrees f.

    Below that and I find my lips don’t work well for the radio calls and I can’t feel the clicks on the transponder. The transponder is hard to read when I am dressed for the cold.

    My wife draws the line at about 35 degrees f.

    I do not have a heater although I do have an electric vest.
     

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  37. FlySince9

    FlySince9 Pattern Altitude

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    Less than 40? It's the end of the story!
     
  38. Norman

    Norman En-Route Gone West

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    What a bunch of wusses. Late wife and I had a Norwegian Elkhound who didn't think it was cold at all when I walked her on the lake in blizzards after her evening meal. She relished the cold, and there were times I had to break snow drifts that were too tall for her. Of course I was dressed for the weather and she had the advantage of a three ply coat of fur. Cold is a state of mind. Now days I get cold below 70 in winter.

    Dress for conditions expected and it ain't so bad.
     
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  39. Stewartb

    Stewartb En-Route

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    250129D1-338F-4AA8-B7B7-94F15444F69D.jpeg My dog and I walk 3-5 miles every day. All her life she’s been fine down to zero. At zero she’s all about going but at minus 1? She stands outside on three legs, alternating which foot she holds in the air. It’s funny as hell. She turns 11 in a few days and we just got home from our walk. She sleeps more than she used to but there’s no slowing her down when she’s awake!
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2017
  40. bluerooster

    bluerooster Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yes, our Pyraneese Loved the cold. she was perfectly happy between -12 and +12.