While Milwaukee-area weather personality John Malan is teasing me with weather forecasts that approximate the coming spring, I can testify that spring is truly here. So get on out there and fly—once you locate your aircraft, that is.
IF you haven’t seen your airplane since last fall, the time to exercise your airplane visitation rights is now.
First, try and remember what airport your plane is hangared. If you can’t recall, you’re in trouble and I can’t help you.
If you can remember your airport, but not your hangar number—again, you’re in trouble and I can’t help you.
If you can remember neither, give me a call—and I’ll buy you a drink at your favorite pub.
If that still doesn’t jog your memory, you’re going to need a second drink for medicinal purposes. (I can supply both drinks, if necessary.)
Assuming that you know the airport that your plane is hangared at, you remember the hangar number, have a hangar key or lock combination—and remember how to get there—then this Saturday is the day for you.
Get in your car and head over there when the birds start chirping, get that hangar door open and renew your love affair with your airplane. While you’re at it, vacuum out the airplane, clean the windows—and do some other things that are important, too.
Here’s my spring wake-up checklist for my airplane:
1. Oil the lock on the hangar door.
2. Consider greasing your hangar door rails or tracks, too.
3. Clean the aircraft windows.
4. Vacuum the aircraft interior.
5. Check the tire pressure and pump up the tires if necessary.
6. If you have an aircraft tug, check its tire pressure and check to see that it works. Perform any tug maintenance that is necessary in the spring (especially if it doesn’t work!)
7. Weather permitting, remove your aircraft from your hangar and away from the door.
8. With either a broom or leaf blower (I prefer the latter), clean your hangar floor. Dust and dirt ultimately will wind up in aircraft carpet—and in your aircraft’s vacuum system—if you don’t clean your plane’s interior regularly. (Instruments needing overhaul cost a lot more than vacuuming your airplane!)
9. In you own a Seneca or Navaho, take off your winter hotplate and store it for the season.
10. Check your oil. Do you have any? Does it need changing? Make sure you get your oil up to 180-plus degrees F to boil off any condensed water. You can’t do this idling; you have to be airborne to accomplish this. Also, don’t forget to remove your oil cooler winterization plates!
11. Make sure you thoroughly drain the gasoline. Shake the wings first to move any condensed water down toward the drain. Make sure you check all of the drains. (My airplane has 10!)
12. Thoroughly—and I mean thoroughly—preflight your plane. If you generally take a shortcut here and there because you’re the owner and the only flyer, now is the time to acquire a full safety-minded habit. Check those ailerons and elevator. Check the bolts on the horizontal stabilizer by wiggling the tips and feeling for looseness. If there is, don’t fly until you have your A&P check those bolts. There are only four that hold the whole stabilizer on; don’t take chances!
13. Check that battery. Check the fluid levels; if they’re low, only fill your battery with distilled water (if it’s the kind of battery that takes water). If in doubt, look at the battery manual, or ask your A&P.
14. Follow the checklist for engine start and don’t skip anything. Your airplane hasn’t been used perhaps all winter and you need to be extra-thorough.
15. If everything checks out, go fly and have fun. Be alert for any airplane problems and pilot problems. Chances are that you haven’t flown since the last time your airplane flew—and you may have issues, too.
Spring is here!
Fly, have fun and stay safe!