It’s officially the start of the fall season, which means that the days are getting shorter and cooler temperatures are on their way. As the season changes, keep these considerations in mind before your next flight.
As the weather gets cooler, the freezing level drops. When planning your flight, be aware of any high-altitude icing hazards. When the temperature drops, your tire pressure may drop too. Low tire pressure can affect your aircraft’s performance or even lead to a blowout. As the weather cools down after the summer, pay close attention to changes in your aircraft’s tire pressure.
With summer finally coming to an end, we’ll experience shorter days and longer nights. In order to carry passengers in the nighttime, FAR 91.57 indicates pilots must have logged three landings to a full stop from the time starting one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise. If you’re carrying passengers and aren’t night current, you’ll need to plan your flight around these rules.
Fall marks the start of migration season for millions of birds heading south for the colder months. According to AOPA, about 90 percent of bird strikes take place at or near airports, usually during take off or landing. If you have a close encounter with birds, inform ATC so they can warn other pilots. And in the event that your aircraft experiences a bird strike, whether damaging or not, report it to the FAA. AOPA also recommends warming your windshield in cooler months to reduce the chances of it shattering if hit by a bird and keeping shatterproof glasses or goggles on hand.
In late fall, it’s wise to reread the aircraft flight manual to prepare your aircraft for winterization, whether you’re planning on storing your aircraft in the hangar or flying throughout colder months. Be sure to keep up with your plane’s scheduled maintenance, including regular oil changes and checking batteries, which need to be kept fully charged or removed when the aircraft is parked in colder air. It’s also a good idea to store a “survival kit” on your aircraft for colder months with items like blankets, a first aid kit, red day/night flares, and extra food and water.
This season also offers some fantastic flying weather! With cooler air causing a decreased density altitude, many pilots can see an increase in their aircraft’s performance with better climb rates, reduced takeoff roll and more power. Best of all, when flying during fall months, you’ll have a birds-eye view of the colorful foliage below. Happy flying!