Fuel Planning

Fuel Planning


A few years ago I took off out of Chicago’s Dupage airport (KDPA) in a Bonanza headed for Deck Airport (9D4), a small uncontrolled airport about 60nm to the west of Philadelphia. It was late November and, unfortunately, due to some unexpected ice, I found myself flying a significant portion of the flight at 4-5,000 feet instead of the 11,000’ at which I had originally planned. This was an issue because I was burning significantly more fuel at 4,000’ than I would have at 11,000’. I did my fuel planning math and came to the conclusion that I would still make it to 9D4 with the required minimums. On I flew, watching the number on the totalizer decrease.

I arrived at 9D4 after dark. Although I didn’t think I would need one, I ended up having to fly an approach to get down below the cloud deck. My troubles weren’t over. After breaking out of the clouds, I was terrified to realize that the runway lights weren’t working.

Now, I had a problem. I was in a relatively unfamiliar area in marginal VFR at night and I was quickly running out of options as far as my fuel was concerned. Fortunately for me, 9D4 is located 14nm north of Lancaster Airport (KLNS), which is a towered airport with very nice approaches and facilities. Also working in my favor was the fact that Lancaster was reporting VFR. I headed as quickly as I could for Lancaster and landed uneventfully.

When I landed I had the required fuel minimums on the airplane, but I managed to scare myself pretty thoroughly. I realized that while I had been forced to deal with some unexpected complications: icing forcing me down several hours before my planned descent and inoperative runway lights that were not listed in the airport NOTAMs. I was very blessed that Lancaster was so close by and that I was able to land without having make an approach. Had LNS not been VFR, I could have easily burned through another 15 minutes of fuel maneuvering for and executing an approach. If, for some reason I’d had to go missed or perform a hold, I would have gone through my remaining fuel pretty quickly. To me, this is a classic example of “just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s safe.” I realized I needed to change how I did my fuel planning.

Since then, I have enforced a personal minimum: 18 gallons must be on the Bonanza at the time I reach my destination. If things change un-expectedly enroute and I realize I won’t make it to my airport with at least 18 gallons, I stop. I had always tried to have an hour of fuel on board as a reserve, but having a hard number is an easy way for me to make decisions.

Having a fuel totalizer installed in an airplane is a really nice way to upgrade the panel and give the pilot a clearer idea of how much gas is being burned/ how much is remaining. The totalizer installed in our Bonanza is a JPI Fuel Flow 450. It has a lot of nice features which make fuel management chores much easier. If a totalizer is something that you are considering installing in your aircraft, or if you have one already, here are a few things that I’ve learned from my experience flying with them.


  • While helpful, don’t rely too heavily on the totalizer to do your fuel math for you. Similar to the negative effect that using GPS navigation can have on a pilot’s ability to navigate via a chart, over dependence on digital fuel systems can lead to problems. A fuel totalizer should be telling you what you already know, not doing all your math for you. Do your fuel math and confirm it with the totalizer. If it failed, you should still know how much you have and how much is needed.
  • Likewise, don’t rely completely on the accuracy of a totalizer. Technology isn’t perfect, and if the instrument isn’t quite calibrated correctly, the numbers could be wrong. Fuel information is absolutely critical, and thus warrants constant monitoring and double checking. When you do arrive at your destination, keep track of how much fuel the airplane takes and compare it to the numbers on the totalizer to verify its accuracy.
  • Unless you are flying an airplane which has a “both” setting, you will still need to be keeping track of how much fuel is available in the aircraft’s individual tanks. For example: our Bonanza has two tanks, but the totalizer doesn’t keep track of that information. If I don’t remember to switch tanks, I can run one completely dry and the digital read out will indicate the remaining gas in the other tank. The totalizer won’t indicate anything about the individual tank quantity until the engine quits and the flow drops to zero.


Pictured below on the left is a fuel selector from a Piper Aerostar. The airplane has two selector valves and three fuel tanks. While the system is not difficult to use, it does require proper understanding and regular monitoring to ensure that the fuel is distributed correctly. The picture on the right is the selector out of an A36 Bonanza. I love the simplicity of the Bonanza’s fuel system, but it still takes attention and intention on the part of the pilot to keep track of how much gas is available on either side.


  • The JPI unit that we have installed on our airplane even has an “hours and minutes remaining” screen as well as a “fuel required” screen. The totalizer actually talks to the GPS and is able to tell me how much gas I will need to get to my destination. Just remember that those numbers are computed only at the current flow and do not take into account the potential increases/ decreases in consumption which will occur as power settings are changed for descent and arrival into the airport. I may feel pretty good about my hours and minutes remaining when I’m sitting at 12,000 feet, but when center makes me descend to 5,000’ and I’m still an hour away from my destination, endurance will decrease. It also can’t take into account any additional flight time that may be required to shoot approaches, hold, or divert.
  • Have you ever heard of “G.I.G.O?” It stands for “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” What it means is that the information which the fuel totalizer is giving the pilot is only as good as the information that the pilot gave it at the beginning of the flight. The totalizer in our Bonanza does not have any method of checking the quantity in the fuel tanks. At start up the pilot inputs the amount of fuel on board the airplane and the totalizer keeps track of how much is burned which is then subtracted from that inputted number. Ergo, if the amount of fuel is not updated or is incorrect, the fuel total numbers displayed will be inaccurate. If a pilot told the computer that the tanks had been topped off, but didn’t verify it, the fuel could be exhausted and the totalizer would still indicate that there was fuel available. It is, therefore, VERY IMPORTANT to confirm the airplane is fueled to the amount desired (visually if possible) and use the fuel gauges in the airplane to verify the accuracy of the totalizer.
  • Use a timer: I like to use the timer on my phone to remind me when it is time to switch the fuel tanks. If I set the phone to vibrate and put it in my pocket, it will remind me to change tanks at the desired time if I haven’t remembered to otherwise. It’s also nice because I can write down exactly at what time (or quantity) I changed tanks so I can keep very accurate track of how much fuel I have in any given tank. This is especially helpful in airplanes that have more than two fuel tanks. Another option is setting the timer on a Garmin 430, 530, or G1000 to give an alert or message reminding the pilot to change tanks at a preset time.


It shouldn’t come as news to anyone that the importance of fuel planning cannot be overstated. I personally know multiple people who have run airplanes out of fuel because their planning wasn’t quite right or the weather changed and they were unwilling to take the time to stop. In the case of my Bonanza story earlier in this article, it was obvious to me before I even landed that I should have picked a fuel stop when it became apparent that I would arrive at my destination with less than my desired one hour margin.

The technology that we have now to help us keep track of our fuel usage is wonderful, but use it as an aid; not as your only source of fuel calculation. Remember to verify the amount of fuel on the airplane before you go because the number on the totalizer won’t mean anything if it doesn’t match the amount in the tanks! Above all, don’t be afraid to stop and get fuel when you need it. I’d rather have to tell the passengers that we need to stop for gas than deal with the potential consequences of running out.

Andrew Robinson is a 135 Charter Pilot and flight instructor who lives with his wife and 2 daughters in Pennsylvania.  He flies Pilatus PC-12s and instructs in Beechcraft Bonanzas.

Landing Light Replacement


One evening this summer, my wife and I were flying down the southern shore of Long Island in my father’s E33 Bonanza. We enjoyed the sunset as we flew westbound and our plan was to fly the New York Hudson corridor, where we would arrive just after dark. As we approached New York’s airspace, two voices in my head started having a debate.

The first voice said: “You should turn on your landing light when you get to New York to make the airplane more visible.”

The other voice said: “That’s true, but I bet you’ll burn the landing light out”

Well, as it turned out, both voices were right. My landing light fired right up when I needed it to fly the Hudson, but when it came time to land back home I had no such luck. Unfortunately, this was not the first time that I had been given the chance to practice my blackout landings. This Bonanza model has only one landing/ taxi light which is mounted in the lower cowling behind the propeller. This location is less than ideal because the filament in the bulb is fragile and can be damaged by engine vibration.

We landed uneventfully and after putting the airplane away, I decided it was time to look into upgrading the lighting to something a little more modern. I was unsure of my options, but seeing as the airplane needed a replacement bulb regardless, it seemed like a good opportunity to make a change.

After doing a little reading, I learned that HID or LED landing lights would be the best solution to my problem. I was familiar with LED aircraft lights, but had never heard of HID before.

Here is what I learned:

HID Landing Lights

HID, or High Intensity Discharge landing lights, create light by arcing electricity through a sealed gas capsule. They are brighter than LED and traditional incandescent, and the light created more closely resembles the look and feel of sunlight. HID installations require a ballast to carefully regulate the flow of electricity to the gas capsule and also require a “warm up” period after being turned on in order to reach their full brightness.

Fitting an aircraft with HID landing lights tends to be more expensive and time consuming than installing an LED light and would likely require involvement by an A&P/ IA. However, if you want the brightest light available, HID is probably the best bet.


  • Brighter, more natural looking light
  • Draws less power than standard bulbs
  • Long bulb life
  • Does not generate much heat


  • More expensive than other lighting options
  • Lights must “warm up” after being turned on
  • Cannot be pulsed easily
  • Cost/complexity of installations

LED Landing Lights

LED, or Light Emitting Diode landing lights, have no filament and work by moving electricity through diodes which are connected into a circuit. These lights have become very popular for many uses due to their simplicity, low cost, and brightness.

While not as bright as HID light, the LED lights require no “warm up period” and can be easily pulsed. LED lights draw much less power from the aircraft’s electrical system than traditional bulbs and boast incredible life length. LED bulb installation is very simple and can often serve as a direct replacement for the original lights.


  • Instant light (no warm up)
  • Incredible life length (>5,000 hours)
  • Low Cost
  • Simplicity of installation
  • Can be pulsed easily
  • Low power draw


  • Not as bright as HID lighting


After weighing the options, I decided to replace the incandescent bulb in the Bonanza with an LED bulb. I read the reviews online and talked to some of my friends who work in aviation and eventually decided on the Lycoming Alphabeam. The Alphabeam is FAA/PMA approved and is available through Aircraft Spruce and other aviation parts vendors. The bulb cost around 250-300 dollars and I was able to install it as a direct replacement for our old light. All I had to do was take the old one out, put the new one in, and make a logbook entry.

Below are some pictures of the installation:

Last weekend I finally had an opportunity to take the airplane out after dark and see how the new light compared to the old one. I am pleased to say that it did a wonderful job and exceeded my expectations.

If you are interested in seeing a side by side comparison of the different lighting options, a quick Google search should provide what you are looking for. In my own experience, I would say that the LED light was brighter than the old light and did a very good job illuminating the taxiway and runway. It was extremely nice not to be concerned that my light wouldn’t work as I was setting up for landing at an unfamiliar field after dark. I also enjoyed feeling that I had the option to leave it on during climb and cruise in order to increase my visibility to other aircraft.

Many models of aircraft have multiple landing/ taxi lights installed which greatly reduces the likelihood of having to land without one. In our case, spending the extra money to upgrade to the LED bulb made sense because of the desire for increased reliability. If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive way to upgrade your airplane, LED or HID lighting may be something to consider.

Andrew Robinson is a 135 Charter Pilot and flight instructor who lives with his wife and 2 daughters in Pennsylvania.  He flies Pilatus PC-12s and instructs in Beechcraft Bonanzas.

FBO Etiquette


If you’ve ever been to Nantucket Airport during the summer, you’ll understand when I say that it is a crazy place. During the summer months, especially on weekends, the airport is visited by an endless parade of airplanes ranging from the smallest GA airplanes to the biggest private jets.

One sunny Sunday afternoon I was standing in line at the front desk of the Nantucket FBO when the ramp door opened and a very grumpy and entitled man walked in. The man marched right up to the front desk and barked a fuel order at the girl working there, which she mistakenly read back wrong. After yelling at her for her wrongdoing, he announced that he had flown in to go to the restaurant and stormed off to drown his sorrows in fish and chips. Although he was a jerk, his attitude got me thinking about FBO’s and everything that the people who work at them do for us pilots.

For anyone who may not know, FBO stands for Fixed Base Operator. FBO’s can be found at airports everywhere and their business is to provide services such as fuel, hangar space, and tie downs. Bigger FBO’s can offer more services including rental cars, food, maintenance, flight instruction, etc. FBO workers have the ability to make life really good or really miserable for pilots, and, it seems to me, we pilots have the same power over them. Based on my personal experiences and the experiences of some friends who have worked at airports around the country, here are some things to think about next time you taxi onto an FBO ramp.

Landmark Aviation FBO

Landmark Aviation has the best pens

I’ve divided this article into two sections:

  • FBO Etiquette: What can we as pilots do to make life easier for the workers at the FBOs
  • FBO Pilot Perks: Ways that FBOs can help make a pilot’s life better (besides basic services like fueling)


FBO Etiquette

Be Polite

Everyone I talked to about their time working at an FBO said that simply by being friendly and polite is one of the biggest ways we can help. Most of the people that work at the FBOs love aviation and likely are working there to be around the industry in hopes of eventually being more involved. The girl working the desk at Nantucket didn’t deserve to be yelled at just for reading a tail number back wrong; don’t forget that “please” and “thank you” are still magic words.

Call Ahead

Whether you are flying to the airport, or you left your airplane at the FBO and you need them to pull it out or fuel it, calling ahead is greatly appreciated. Most FBO’s have a radio at the front desk and have their frequency listed online and in foreflight. Call ahead and tell them that you’re coming, when you’ll be arriving, and what you’ll need when you get there (gas, rental car, taxi..etc). That way they wont feel rushed and you may get what you’re looking for more expediently upon arrival.

Fuel orders

If your fuel order is difficult or confusing (example: 6.54 gallons in the right side and 4.32 in the left) you may be better off just to do it yourself at the self serve. One of the guys I talked to said that he would have pilots ask for extremely specific numbers and then stand there watching, ready to pounce when it wasn’t fueled exactly right. Its also worth noting that fuelers do make mistakes. Its highly recommended to watch and make sure that the correct truck (Jet A or 100LL) is the one pulling up to dispense your gas. Make sure you check that the fuel caps are properly installed before departing. 

Look outside

Piper Malibu FBO

A lineman motions for the pilot to stop.

Taxiing onto the ramp is not the right time to be doing your after landing and shutdown checklists. Wait until the airplane is stopped before taking your eyes off the person marshaling you to your parking spot. I’ve been told that it isn’t uncommon for a pilot to be looking inside while taxiing and it makes the linemen very nervous as they are motioning to the pilot to stop (For those unfamiliar, with lineman hand signals, here’s a helpful link).


Unless you have talked to them and get the okay, don’t leave the parking brake on when leaving your airplane at an FBO. Often the lineman will direct you to park upfront to make loading and unloading easy, but if you’re going to stay for a long period, the airplane will need to be towed and parked out of the way. Leaving the parking brake on can make serious headaches for the people trying to organize the ramp after you leave.


Don’t blind the poor guy parking you by leaving all your landing, taxi, and recognition lights on as you’re pulling into your spot at night. Likewise, when you are ready to leave your parking space, its courteous to signal the person waiting in front of your airplane by flashing one of your lights at them so they know you are ready to be directed off of the ramp.

FBO Pilot Perks

Good parking

This one is pretty basic. I’ve heard through the grapevine that you may get parked in the boondocks as punishment for being rude to the FBO staff. However, if asked, much of the time they can pull your airplane right up front and may even let you pull a vehicle onto the ramp to load people and bags more easily.

Cheaper hotel rooms/ rental cars

Some FBO’s have special rates with hotel and rental car companies around in the area. Although it varies from place to place, you may be surprised with the amount you can save on these travel essentials. I had a flight last week where I called and was given a quote of 185 dollars for a rental car…after telling them that I was parking at the local FBO, I got the special price of 125. Check with the FBO you will be stopping at for any of their current offerings.

Fuel discounts

Sometimes the price of fuel or the minimum uptake to waive the fees can be negotiated.  Sometimes, the fees may be forgotten entirely. If you are unable to take the minimum amount of fuel to waive the landing or ramp charges, tell them what you can take and you may be pleasantly surprised with the response. Its not uncommon with our Bonanza that even though the “minimum” may be 20, I can waive the fees by up-taking 10 or 12 gallons instead.

Points/ Rewards cards


Some FBO’s offer incentives to pilots for buying gas. Many of the rewards programs are free to sign up for and will pay the fuel purchaser cash based on how much fuel they buy over a specified time period.  I am a member of the Avtrip program which rewards fuel purchases at Avfuel airports with points that are redeemable for money. Avtrip is just one example of an FBO fuel rewards program; if you fly regularly, it may be worth looking into whether or not there is a fuel rewards program you can take advantage of.

Crew Cars

Most FBO’s have cars designated for use by the pilots. They are extremely nice for going to get lunch or taking care of whatever short errands you may need to run around town. Most crew cars are limited to about 1-2 hours of use, but they can often be loaned out longer based on the discretion of the people working the desk. On a few occasions, I’ve had the cars loaned to me for longer, even over night, by the nice people at the FBO (They always appreciate pilots splashing a few gallons of auto gas into the cars while they are out, too).

FBOs and the services that they provide are invaluable to pilots, both commercial and private. If we as pilots are willing to work with the linemen and service reps we can make both our lives and their lives easier. Remember to be polite and don’t be afraid to ask if you need something….that’s what they’re there for!

Andrew Robinson is a 135 Charter Pilot and flight instructor who lives with his wife and 2 daughters in Pennsylvania.  He flies Pilatus PC-12s and instructs in Beechcraft Bonanzas.

Beechcraft Flap Issues


There has always been something that felt wrong to me about how the walkway on many models of Beechcraft extends onto the right hand flap. I have never felt right about stepping onto the flap as I make my way into and out of my dad’s E33A Bonanza and therefore I generally try to step over top of it and place my foot on the wing instead. But does this effort actually make any difference, or am I just making my self look silly for no reason?

Nutplate Cracking 3

Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t such a bad idea. In 2007, a pilot flying a Beech reported a split flap condition. Upon inspection, it was found that there was damage to the actuation rod attachment as well as the nose rib and nut plates. Six other aircraft were checked and found to have similar damage. These findings were submitted to Hawker Beechcraft and in 2008 and they issued a maintenance alert regarding the issue. In 2011 the FAA issued SAIB CE-11-21 (Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin) to alert owners, operators, and maintenance personnel about the problem; specifically warning of the potential for cracking in the nose flap rib (part number 35-165050-84). And while its true that this type of damage is not limited to the right hand flap, it is known to be much more common on that side. Stepping over the flap instead of on it is recommended by both the FAA and Beechcraft as a solution.

Unfortunately, the flap cracking is known to span a wide variety of aircraft types. A 2011 “Safety Communique” issued by Hawker Beechcraft lists the affected models as:

-Bonanza 33, 35, and 36
-Baron 55, 56, 58, and 95
-Duke 60

Damage at the flap actuator point (Photo Courtesy of AOPA)

Damage at the flap actuator point (Photo Courtesy of AOPA)


According the the FAA, the cracking can been found most commonly on airframes which are between 4,000 and 6,500 hours, but has also been found on aircraft with as few as 2,000.

So, what do we do about it?

First off, although much of the damage is difficult to detect without dis-assembly, the paperwork from both the FAA and Beechcraft recommend taking a look at the flap yourself to see if there are any obvious signs of problems. They also suggest taking special care looking in this area during your preflight inspections.

Next, if you have an airplane which may be susceptible to cracking, talk to who ever is doing your maintenance work and have them look carefully during your annual inspections. I talked to one of the IA’s at our shop who has dealt with this issue before and he told me that most shops will remove the flap and send it away to a repair station to have it fixed. It’s possible that if you purchased your airplane used it may have already had this issue taken care of; a quick look through the maintenance logbooks should clear up any questions.

Repaired rib next to a damaged rib (Courtesty:  AOPA)

Repaired rib next to a damaged rib (Courtesty: AOPA)


Regardless of whether your airplane is known to suffer from this problem or not, do your best to avoid stepping on the flap when getting in and out of the cockpit. It is also a good idea to ask your passengers to do the same as this simple act could end up saving you big headaches and big money someday down the road.

For more information regarding the flap issues discussed above, talk to your maintenance provider and visit these links:

ABS Flight Controls, Flaps, and Trim System Inspection, Repair and Rigging Guide (See Page 17)

ABS Information on SAIB CE-11-21

Andrew Robinson is a 135 Charter Pilot and flight instructor in Pennsylvania.  He flies Pilatus PC-12s and instructs in Beechcraft Bonanzas.

Winter Ops


It’s summertime and the weather is hot! Over this dry, sunny season, winter flying is probably the last thing on your mind. However, now is the perfect time to start getting things in place for winter and that includes having a plan for taking care of your airplane.

Why are preparations for winter ops needed in the first place? Cold weather, especially during the engine start and warm up period, can be very damaging to your engine if precautions aren’t taken to ensure that safe temperatures exist inside the engine before you turn the key. I always thought that the biggest problem associated with cold weather was engine oil. The logic is since cold oil is thicker and less viscous as the temperature drops, it is not able to circulate quickly throughout the engine to provide proper lubrication upon starting.

While cold oil may be a factor, the introduction of multi­viscocity oils has greatly reduced that issue. The real problem is created by the different ways that various parts of the engine respond to heat. Because aluminum expands more quickly when heated than steel does, the pistons (made of aluminum) expand more quickly than the cylinders (made of steel). This can lead to scuffing on the sides of the cylinder barrel. In the same way, differential heating can reduce clearances which are designed to provide cooling oil to bearings and other vital engine parts, thereby causing damage which greatly reduces the life of the engine.

So how cold is TOO cold? Unfortunately, that is a difficult question to answer. Because there is so much variation between engines, airplanes, and environments, there really isn’t any one specific answer. An older, more worn out engine may actually be less susceptible to cold weather damage than a newer, tighter engine because its internal clearances are probably not as tight as they were a few thousand hours ago. I have heard of some people who preheat their airplanes anytime the temperature falls below about 40 degrees. For us northerners, this seems excessive. On our E33A Bonanza which has a Continental IO­520, we generally preheat the airplane when it is cold soaked in temperatures below freezing (32° F).

Here are a few of the best ways to get your machine ready for a cold weather flight:

  • Heated Hangar:­ Nothing beats a heated hangar for warming up an airplane. The warm air is evenly distributed around the engine and in the cockpit (your avionics and gyros will thank you!). The airplane will need to be in the hangar for a while in order to warm up the guts of the engine. Often, the easiest way is to have the airplane pulled in the evening before the planned departure and left overnight. Many FBOs will hangar airplanes overnight for a small fee and it is well worth the price. We almost always have our charter airplanes put into hangars overnight when on a winter trip to ensure that we don’t have any trouble when we depart the next day. This practice has the added benefit of keeping the airframe clear of any ice and snow that may accumulate before you are scheduled to leave.
  • Electric Engine Heaters­: Multi­point electronic heaters use heating pads that are placed around the engine in order to heat up the various components such as cylinders, the oil pan and crankcase. Most of these systems are designed to be activated by being plugged into a wall outlet with an extension cord. Preheating for a winter flight is as simple as going to the airport the night before and plugging it in. Two well ­known manufacturers of multi­point engine heaters are Reiff and Tanis. These systems are relatively inexpensive and can be a life saver if you regularly travel in colder climates. If an engine heater is the right choice for you, it is recommended to avoid less ­expensive models that heat only the oil pan.


Reiff system

Pictured above is the Reiff system. The heated bands go around the cylinder bases and the pad at the bottom of the picture heats the oil pan. Picture Courtesy of www.reiffpreheat.com


  • Covers and Blankets­: If it is especially cold or you have to preheat outside, having something to insulate the cowling and keep the wind out can be very useful. Regular blankets will work long as you can secure them in place. If you have an ongoing need for additional insulation, there are companies that make custom blankets and propeller covers to fit your airplane. If you are landing and then taking off again relatively quickly, using a few blankets and cowl plugs will work nicely to keep the engine warm while it is sitting outside. In a pinch, placing a couple of powered light bulbs in the cowling overnight with insulation on top can result in sufficient temperatures for starting the engine.


Bonanza Cover

Even with the multi­point electric heater, we still use a blanket while preheating to help keep everything toasty.


  • Forced Air:­ This method is used widely by FBO’s and flight schools. Hot air is produced in a portable heater and is then pumped into the engine compartment via the openings at the front or bottom of the cowling. This method has the benefit of not requiring any additional equipment to be installed on the aircraft beforehand and can be very effective provided there is adequate time for the engine to heat completely before removal.


Forced Heat

Pictured above is a Red Dragon engine preheater. Photo courtesy of Red Dragon’s website: www.flameengineering.com


  • Winter Baffles:­ When the air temperature starts to drop into the teens and lower, you may find it difficult to keep your engine temperatures warm enough in cruise flight. The problem is that the air entering the cowling inlets is so cold that it overcools the engine. The solution is to install additional baffling in the engine inlets to reduce the amount of airflow into the cowling. These additional baffles are usually just sheets of aluminum that are cut to the correct size and are bolted in and removed quickly and easily as needed. Some pilots swear by them while others complain that they can cause uneven cooling. If you have questions about winter baffling, I’d suggest talking to your mechanic about your specific airplane.

Winter flying can be extremely rewarding. After their hands thaw from pre­flight, a pilot is often rewarded with smooth air, improved performance and outstanding views. Just don’t forget to prepare the airplane for the cold. The preparation is often as simple as plugging in an extension cord or making a phone call to the FBO. So whether you live in the north or the south, take good care of your engine so that it can keep taking good care of you.