In February, many of us are already looking forward to the thaw in March and April, itching to hop back in the cockpit. But while you’re still here on the ground, remember to take some time to bring your aircraft out of hibernation the right way.
- Clean aircraft are happy aircraft. After a few months in the hangar, your aircraft will be in need of a deep clean. Spend some time washing the outside to clean off any bugs, tar, dirt, or oil that have been trapped on your aircraft’s surfaces. Follow the wash with a protecting sealant or wax to prevent stains from bugs or sap. Don’t forget about the aircraft’s glass– give it a clean with an aircraft-specific Plexiglas polish to remove debris without causing damaging scratches. Cleaning up the outside of your aircraft is also a good excuse to examine the exterior for any troubling wear and tear that you might have missed before you put it away for the winter.
- Yes, clean up the inside too. Now is a great time to give the inside of your aircraft some much- needed TLC, too. Throw out any trash or rags, and check, organize, and restock items like flashlights and extra batteries. Once everything is in order, vacuum the inside and dust off the panels and controls. Again, take your time and look for anything suspect that may need extra attention from you or a certified aviation professional.
- Inspect, inspect, inspect. It bears repeating that now is absolutely the time to do a thorough inspection of all aircraft systems. Look for leaks, corrosion and any other mechanical issues. Cold weather can be damaging on rubber hoses and cause leaks, which can be detected by looking for blue staining around the engine components. Regular inspections like these ensure that you’re flying safely.
- Keep an eye on the battery. Batteries can become damaged by cold weather in the winter months. Remove the battery from the aircraft and inspect and charge it using an aircraft-specific charger. Check for corrosion, and replace your battery as needed.
- Check the tire pressure and oil. Just like your car’s tires, cold temperatures can also affect your aircraft’s tire pressure. Make sure the tires are properly inflated to ensure safe takeoffs and landings. Take a look at your oil as well, inspecting for leaks and changing the oil as necessary.
Spring will be here before you know it, so keep this list handy for when you’re ready to get back in the air.