Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Owning the Winter Lake

Even in December in Alabama we get days approaching 70 degrees. The wind is mild and the sun is shining, although low in the sky. Boats are off the lake. Leaves are off the trees. Enjoy this time! Our planes get to enjoy the extra performance of the denser air and the smoothness of a wake free lake. Even the water is clearer this time of year. Winter air is drier, so our views are undisturbed for up to a 100 miles at times. I especially enjoy being able to see into the woods through the bare trees, making all kinds of interesting places that are ours to explore once we spot them from the air.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Alabama Winter Seaplane Survival Guide

November 15th: I am still flying in short sleeves. The lake belongs almost exclusively to me. I can land nearly anywhere without boat wakes, and am unlikely to annoy anyone on the lake with my flying contraption. There is still an occassional pontoon boat or bass fisherman, but they are widely spread. The trees are in full color. The air is crystal clear and I can see for 50 miles in any direction. And my sunset flights don't conflict with dinner since the days are so short. Seaplane life is good on Lake Martin.

December 15th: Flying floats for the next few months can be really rewarding without the challenges of other lake users. You must plan a little more carefully for your cross countries. Fuel will be more scarce as fewer marinas are open and since lake levels are down there are fewer and more treacherous places to splash in. More importantly, you should use the extra power afforded by the cooler weather and lower density altitudes to carry the necessities for an unplanned emergency landing.

During the summer months shorts and light clothing are the norm, But in the winter, exposure could be an issue in a very short time. Carrying supplies, a first aid kit, and warm clothing and/or blankets for emergencies is more urgent for any cross-country flight. Chances of quick rescue are good during the summer months on a busy lake, not so on a deserted winter lake. Be safe, be prepared, and enjoy winter float flying.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Frosty Wings

Got frost on your wings? Taxi the plane out into the sun. This will start the melting process. If the temps are above freezing, you can help the air melt the wings by doing some step taxiing out in the sun. This puts more warm air over the wings. Usually you will see the water running off the back of the wings in a jiffy.