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So, whether you’re planning to pull the wheels off your Cessna and replace them with skis or you’re just planning to hangar your aircraft this winter, a healthy dose of cold-weather preparation for your favorite flying machine is in order.

  • Hangared or not hangared: Where your plane will spend the winter season tells a lot about the amount of preparation you’ll need. Hangared aircraft will weather winter better than those left to the elements. If you have to store your plane outside, at least consider some sort of canopy and engine cover. Sunlight and bird “stuff,” as well as wind and sand, are not good for the windshield and exterior. 
  • Become one with the owner’s manual: There no better place to get to know your aircraft and the manufacturer’s recommended procedures for winter operations and storage. 
  • Check with your maintainer: Not a fan of reading the owner’s manual? Then please, always consult a licensed maintainer. 
  • Change the oil and fill the fuel tanks: Full fuel tanks prevent the buildup of condensation over the winter. If your aircraft is Hangared, please check with the hangar owner or manager before storing a plane with full tanks. Some facilities discourage this due to fire hazard.
  • Grease is the word: Make sure hinges and linkages are well-lubricated to prevent moisture and seizing. 
  • Chock the tires, front and back and then release the parking brake: The chocks keep the aircraft from moving, and releasing the brake keeps it from seizing. 
  • Block the inlets, vents, and exhaust: Bugs, birds, leaves, and moisture. Do we need to say more?  
  • Power: The master switch should be off. Some owners opt to remove the battery to prevent drainage and well as any problems with corrosion.

Disclaimer and reminder: Every aircraft is as unique as the pilot that owns it, so while this is just a quick list of things to think about as the temperatures begin to drop, always put the safety of others and yourself first. When in doubt, always consult the manufacturer’s recommendations, as well as your licensed and qualified aircraft maintainer.