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4 Answers

XC In Icing Conditions

Asked by: 513 views General Aviation, Private Pilot, Weather

Hi -  I'm a ~100 hrs PPL flying a Tobago T200 (club plane) and considering flying this saturday KGAI -> KIUA.  I recently did a long xc with my wife to Nashville (KGAI -> KJWN), and we had amazing weather.  However, for this trip, I'm looking at freezing or sub freezing temps on the ground both for departure and arrival.  Further, the lake effect snows seem fairly unpredictable.  I'll certainly get a full weather briefing on Saturday morning and am fine with driving the trip if necessary.  This would be my first time flying a xc in potential icing conditions and wanted to get words of advice/caution from more experienced folks. 

Further there's the issue of just doing a tie down on the ramp for 3 days with a 50% chance of snow each day. I assume that's a non-starter for my return flight if I've got a 1/2" of snow on my wings when I'm pre-flighting!  Anyway, I'm pretty sure I know the answer to my "question(s)" here, but always interested in learning.  Thanks much for any info!

 

Cheers,
Jeff

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4 Answers



  1. KDS on Dec 27, 2017

    Right now, the weather looks like it is doable. As you wrote, checking to weather before departure is critical and could certainly change the picture.

    As far as snow on the airplane if it sits on the ramp, that depends on a few things. Can you clear the snow by brushing it off without leaving a residual frost. Would you be able to put the airplane in a hangar to warm up and melt. Then you have to think about water runoff from the melting snow and where it might refreeze when you take the airplane back outside. You could also have the airplane professionally deiced.

    However, after saying that, I just get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. When you get to a place in life where you have to start thinking in about the factors that you’re not sure of that might introduce and element of danger, it’s time to back off and ask yourself why you’re even doing it in the first place.

    Maybe think about it like this. If you had a friend who was a 100 hours pilot and he was going to make that trip with someone you cared for greatly (mother, sister, wife), would you be reluctant to let her go.

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  2. jeffreyhayes on Dec 27, 2017

    Helpful comment. I’m not trying to be a hero, but I also want to understand how to do things better when/if I do them. I didn’t know about potential deicing services for GA planes, although those might not be available in this situation. The best option would be hangaring it for the few days, and I’m going to call the airport tomorrow and see if that’s an option. Unrelated point: it’s also not helpful that KIUA doesn’t have AWOS/ASOS.

    Cheers,
    Jeff

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  3. KDS on Dec 28, 2017

    You wouldn’t have to hangar it the whole time you are there. Just long enough to let it melt and dry.

    BTW, I’m with you on the not trying to be a hero. Several decades ago I tried and I didn’t like the results. More recently, my better-half told my I drive like a little old lady. My response was to say thanks. My flying is every bit that cautious or more so.

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  4. jeffreyhayes on Jan 06, 2018

    Just a follow up … I drove. On Sat morning, it wasn’t a hard call: VFR at departure and arrival airports, but IFR along the entire way. It was a useful exercise though. Learning point #1: lake effect weather/snow is no joke, and very hard to predict. Learning point #2: i suppose i should have known this, but the briefer noted to me that seriously subzero conditions (snow) don’t tend to be an issue since it bounces off the plane. Rather, it’s the temperature transition points where the dewpoint and temp are within 5 degrees and you’re going from above freezing to freezing. Thus, water turns to ice – duh. This was helpful to think of in terms of the danger point being early after departure into southern-central PA. Encountering snow in arctic NY would be presumably (depending on visibility) be less of a cause for freakout. Anyway, thanks for the help.

    Cheers,
    Jeff

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