Safety Committee Update – June 2021
As the heat of the Summer has fully descended upon our area, it’s important to review some gotchas inherent to the season.
Try to avoid those middle parts of the day when the sun is beating down the hardest. Schedule more flights early in the morning and later in the evening to mitigate the extreme temperatures.
Density altitude, or pressure altitude corrected for non-standard temperature can be a hidden killer. Density altitude is a prime indicator of aircraft performance. The density of the air decreases with altitude. Remember, most aircraft performance charts are predicated on standard atmospheric conditions with a sea level pressure of 29.92 and a temperature of 59 degrees F or 15 degrees C. If the density altitude on the AWOS is reported as 4000 feet, than the aircraft will perform as if it were at an airport with an elevation of 4000 feet mean sea level. This will significantly change your takeoff and landing distances required as well as climb capabilities.
The three biggest factors that contribute to a high density altitude are Altitude itself, Temperature, and Humidity.
2 out of 3 of those factors are typically present all Summer long on the Jersey Shore.
With high density altitudes, it may also me necessary to lean your engine before takeoff in order to achieve maximum rated power. This is best done with brakes held, full throttle, and lean until an appreciable rise in RPM or MP is realized.
Summer weather, including thunderstorms will change quickly. Stay up to date on forecasts and check the weather radar on your favorite flight planning or iPhone app. The Forecast Discussion underneath the TAF panel in ForeFlight will advise what’s in store for your area. Mention of thunderstorms there will alert you when they’re not otherwise included in the TAF itself.
Finally, remember to hydrate. None of our aircraft have air conditioning and therefore sweat means fluid loss. If you don’t replenish these fluids your body will soon fall out of balance and could lead to circulation issues, overheating, or toxicity. In short, you’re not fit for flight if you’re dehydrated.
Most importantly, stay cool, observe your personal minimums, and have fun.