Quick winter reminder - DON'T LEAVE YOUR AIRCRAFT!

You might have read this here or in one of the magazines I write for already, but i feel it is very important to remind owners to not ignore their aircraft. 

Don't stop exercising your aircraft...anytime of the year!  Winter is the hardest for the northern states.  But no use is bad anytime.   The worst thing you can do is just let it sit!    The following tips are a few basics to get you started.  Talk to your mechanic for more details and further recommendations.

Most mechanics will tell you the not to let your aircraft sit without running.  If you can't fly the aircraft at least 30 minutes to an hour a month, at least ground run it.   

But don't just run it for a couple of minutes and put it away.  You need to run it long enough to bring the oil temperature and cylinder head temperature up to the green arcs.  This will keep the upper part of the engine lubricated and free of moisture and corrosion.  It's also important to change your oil at least every six months.  Oils can develop acids and other contaminants that are hard on the engine.  Another benefit of running the aircraft is it will allow the gyros to spin up and keep the bearings from pitting.

Fuel systems need special attention.  Make sure that you keep the fuel tanks full!  If there is very little room for air, there will be less moisture and less chance of water in the fuel system.  And for those owners with bladder tanks, it helps to keep the bladders from drying out.

What happens if you have water in your tanks?  Some mechanics rule of thumb is to add about 10 ounces of isopropyl alcohol to every 20 gallons of fuel.    Don't get carried away with the alcohol.  More is not always better.  Too much alcohol will attack the rubber parts in the fuel system.  Why use isopropyl alcohol?  Methanol only mixes with the water and keeps it from freezing, while isopropyl combines with the water making it light enough to move through and out of the fuel system. 

Another thing you need to do is keep your batteries charged or remove them from the aircraft.  When a battery goes low it can freeze and break.  Not a problem if you live where it stays warm all year.  Of course, a dead battery it is still a problem, wherever you live. 

Many owners forget that the brakes and wheel bearings draw a tremendous amount of moisture.  If you leave an aircraft parked, the lowest most humid location is around the wheels.  If you have a tail wheel aircraft it is especially important to check these areas before flying.  Cleaning and repacking is essential on a regular basis.  The grease or lubrication is the only thing that is going to keep the moisture out of the bearings. 

Other areas that need to be worked and lubricated regularly are radios, doors and controls.  When you think about all the things that might need repaired or replaced because you didn't "work" your aircraft, it can get pretty expensive.  In fact, it usually ends up costing more than if you just went flying!

Labels: , , , , ,