What you don't know can kill
Ice, a thousand and one uses!
It can cool your soda's and beer, make a sprained ankle feel better, help
you slide off the end of a runway on landing, or prevent you from flying
at the end of your takeoff roll. We all know about clear ice and
rime ice. What is sometimes neglected as far as aircraft are concerned
is frost! Frost can catch you unprepared on a clear day.
You know those days when you
wake up and the sky clear, it has not rained, but your lawn is wet in the
morning? Dew on the ground! This is because there were not
enough condensation nuclei in the air to form fog, so as the decreasing
temperature reached the dew point, water condensed on the ground.
How about when the temperature is below freezing? Frost forms instead
of dew drops. Frost can easily form on an airplane. See the
This amount of frost can make
it difficult to impossible to become airborne! With frost on the
flying surfaces of an aircraft, your performance charts may be meaningless.
Your takeoff and climb performance can be degraded substantially, possibly
to ZERO! Aircraft anti and de-ice systems protect the areas of the
aircraft that tend to ice up In Flight, not when sitting
on the ground. The upper surfaces of the wings and elevator are not
protected by the aircraft's anti ice systems. It is sometimes necessary
to de-ice your aircraft prior to flight! You can put your airplane
in a heated hangar and let the ice melt, remove it with a broom or squeegee,
or have it de-iced with hot fluid sprayed on the appropriate parts of the
The De-Icing Truck
Wings, Flaps Slats & Ailerons
Stab & Elevator
How would you like to clear the
obstacles ahead with an airplane that won't perform as well as the charts
tell you, when you have barely enough performance in the first place.
Those beautiful mountains can get ugly in a big hurry. Stack the
deck in your favor, if in doubt, de-ice!
Departure from Aspen
Notice that in these photo's,
the sky is blue, and it looks like it is going to be a nice day.
In fact, on this flight out of Aspen Colorado, the first cloud I saw was
400 or 500 miles east of us on the way to Milwaukee! We usually associate
aircraft icing with clouds, but as you can see, this is not always the
case. Taking off with ice on the wings or tail of an airplane is
stupid (stoo-pid). There is a very fine line between a hero, who
always gets the job done, whatever the obstacles, and a dumb ass, who gets
talked about for years to come. A little common sense can keep
you on the proper side of that line.