Hot Weather and Performance

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.




Wind Shear

Wind Shear

This is the time of year here in Utah and many places across the country we see convective activity. From afternoon thunderstorms, hot days and high humidity; we as pilots must be more vigilant about turbulence, down drafts, up drafts, side drafts (j/k), micro bursts, etc. You get the picture. Basically what could seem to be a calm pleasant flight can pose risks to small and large aircraft in the form of wind shear.

Wind shear is typically associated with micro bursts and is especially dangerous in the vicinity of the airport where aircraft are departing and landing. There are a few things we can look for as pilots that could warn us to micro bursts and wind shear:

  • Virga
  • Heavy precipitation
  • Rain showers
  • Blowing dust or swirls of dust
  • Temp/dew point spread between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Moderate to greater turbulence


A go around should be executed or appropriate recovery procedures for your aircraft if you notice the following:

  • +/- 15knots IAS
  • +/- 5 degree pitch attitude
  • +/- 500 fpm VSI
  • Unusual throttle position for an extended period of time (approach)
  • +/- 1 dot glideslope displacement (approach)


The best defense against wind shear and micro bursts is to avoid it. Learn to recognize the signs so you may fly clear of any danger. Remember that it could take up to 30 minutes for some micro bursts to dissipate, but better to circle or fly to your alternative than make the next NTSB report.


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Aviation Weather Resources and Web Links

Here is just a good all around source of web links courtesy of Jeppesen CFI refresher course. Thanks to those guys over there and the AOPA Air Safety Institute!


The National Weather Service (NWS) site has official forecast products including graphic weather products, SIGMETs, and NOTAMs.

NWS’s Aviation Weather Center is becoming an increasingly important source of preflight weather information for pilots. Through this FAA-sanctioned site, you can obtain reports, forecasts, charts, including nearly real-time NEXRAD radar, and all weather information for a standard briefing.

Intellicast offers a number of graphic weather products, including advanced radar data from various sites.

Unisys provides an archive of graphical weather products on its weather site, which are helpful in identifying trends and historical weather patterns.

The Weather Channel is one location to obtain recent radar data for a particular region, as well as general forecast information.

NOAA posts a site with information from wind profiling systems across the nation.

The Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS), sponsored by the National Weather Service, provides graphics depicting winds, turbulence, PIREPs, and other aviation weather data.

The National Weather Association is a good site to obtain educational materials relevant to weather.

Other Resources

AOPA gives access to certain Jeppesen weather services for its members.

Jeppesen provides weather services to pilots and flight departments on a fee-for-service basis

Source: Jeppesen CFI Renewal Online-Weather for Pilots

Training with a Glass Cockpit

I recently had the pleasure of flying with another CFI, CFII, MEI who was telling me of a student needing a bi-annual flight review. This particular student was eager to do his review in a plane equipped with a Garmin G1000 (for you non-pilots, just Google it). Well unfortunately, the trainer was only equipped with a Garmin 430 avionics package and a Sandel HSI. The  $15,000+ avionics package was not cool enough compared to the $30,000+ G1000. Needless to say, he completed his flight review with out the G1000, did fine and insisted that next time he would find a plane for them with the G1000 package to fly.

The CFII and spoke about students wanting to train in technically advanced aircraft and had a discussion as to what type of student it would benefit and hinder.  Technically advanced aircraft or TAA basically means you have three things at a minimum:

  1. Moving map display
  2. Auto Pilot
  3. IFR certified GPS
A great publication by AOPA can be found here on TAA:
Looking at the cost for a Private Pilot Student, a TAA with an all glass cockpit would most likely not make sense financially as you would be able to get your private pilot rating and then spend 3+ hours training in a TAA with an instructor to familiarize yourself with the systems afterwards for less, especially in planes with G1000’s, which can cost upwards of an extra $50hr. You would save money to put toward more personal flying or an instrument rating. Of course if rich dad/grandpa is paying and they insist then you better not disappoint.
For the instrument pilot, my thought was similar to the private pilot scenario. You can still get a nice avionics package such as the Sandel HSI and a Garmin moving map GPS that’s IFR certified for much less than renting one with a glass cockpit. Although this plane would most likely be a TAA assuming the auto pilot, it would be a much cheaper TAA. Again after the certificate has been earned, getting caught up in an all glass cockpit would not take much.
Commercial pilot? Go do it in a 152 or Cherokee, it’s just the private pilot standards at a higher level.
So, should you train at all with a glass cockpit? I think you absolutely should, but don’t make it your primary trainer for a rating unless you are trying to break the bank. I think technology is our friend and if it makes us safer and better pilots without distracting us in the cockpit, then I’m all for it. Just remember that it is technology to make us safer. If you want to fly with your head down in the cockpit playing around with the avionics, don’t spend $150+ an hour, go buy or borrow the simulator and do it at home on your computer or tv. It’s safer and a cheaper way to familiarize your self with these systems.

Air Traffic Control


Air Traffic Control provides a valuable service to all pilots of all levels. At some point in our training or piloting careers, we have to talk ATC. For many students as well as pilots that normally fly out of non-towered airports, communicating with ATC can be awkward, maybe even scary. Keep in mind that on the other side of the radios is a human being who is there to help.
For student pilots, ATC can be a huge asset if you are unsure of things like location, airport layout or simply didn’t understand the last set of instructions. For the private pilot, ATC is there to help you if lost, confused or you simply need progressive instructions. Sure it’s possible that a pilot’s ego may be bruised but as PIC, you are responsible for the safe operation of your aircraft and if that means you need to call ATC for some clarification or to say you’re lost, then do so and worry about your ego when your safely on the ground. Don’t be afraid to speak up!