Hot Weather and Performance
AOPA recently blasted out a good article on hot oil. Most of us are out flying this time of year and it’s down right hot. Not only are we uncomfortable in those old, non air conditioned aircraft, but so is our aircraft. During these summer months and depending on the time of day, where you are in the country and the field elevation your taking off from, your aircraft can work hard, very hard and very hot. Oil is the life blood of our engines and it is critical that you inspect in during pre-flight. Low oil pressure and high temps = potentially dangerous operating situations. Would you continue to drive your car with low oil and the temp gauge creeping up? Remember, you can’t “pull over” in the plane if the engine overheats.
What is your climb angle? A higher airspeed/lower angle of climb will help for a cooler engine but sacrifice rate of climb. Check your EGT, and adjust mixture if need be to keep a cooler operating temperature. A lean mixture will run your engine hot while a rich mixture will help cool the engine. Something you may need to know if you see your temperature increasing during flight.
Another option is to consult your mechanic to see if they can suggest appropriate oil for your particular plane. Some oils will provide better protection in hot operating environments. It is a time of year to be vigilant (as always) during the pre-flight inspection and ensure you have proper levels of oil. Be aware of your climb angle and fuel mixture so can adjust as necessary to fly a cooler and happier plane.