If you’re a pilot, no doubt summertime is your favorite time of the year. Between flying off to attend air shows, or visiting family and friends, or taking off on some great airborne vacation adventure, or taking your kids off to college, or earning a new rating, or whatever – there are more reasons to fly this summer than there are days left until the autumnal equinox. Which, falls on Sept. 22 this year.
But, whether you are flying across a state or the country, there are a few things to take into consideration before you launch.
Summer Flying Tips
Let’s just take it for a given that your aircraft is in top mechanical condition. How about your skills? When was the last time you took some real-life dual with a qualified instructor? That’s especially important it you’re instrument rated.
Summer weather is usually pretty good, but there are always those afternoon storms that can jump up and catch you off guard, which then puts you at the doorstep of shooting an approach in rain and probably a bit of turbulence. That’s no place to try and shake off any rust on your pilotage skills. Best to be prepared before you go.
Another skill you get to sharpen is your pre-flight planning – and not just weight/balance, fuel, etc., but what airports to stop at along your way. Many smaller airports are close to some pretty interesting destinations. That can add a bit more fun to your vacation.
Having good en route destinations are good ways to cut your trip into doable slices. Don’t get caught in the “gotta get there today” trap. Plan extra time in for rest stops and weather related detours and delays. Nothing is that important.
Also, don’t forget about packing snacks and drinks for you and your passengers. Keeping hydrated is very important, especially if you’re flying up high. Speaking of which, if you’re going to be up above 10,000 feet for any length of time, it’s a very good idea to carry supplemental oxygen for yourself and any small children or pets.
Last but not least: you might want to use your vacation preparation as a good time to get a refresher on using your autopilot. It’s the best “co-pilot” to take over while you’re studying information about an unfamiliar airport, grabbing a snack, or checking weather on your iPad. Or better yet, let the autopilot take it a while so you can just sit back and enjoy the view.
They say the best part of any trip is getting there. And there’s no better way to get “there” than in your own airplane.
Until next time, fly safely,