December 2007 Issue

Cold Engine Starts

Youíre probably not pre-heating your airplane correctly. Why it needs more than a few minutes of warm air and what can happen when you donít meet that need.

After watching me horse around with a Piper Cub one day years ago, an old timer gave me a stern look and the comment, "Son, that ainít a car." Even in my youth I realized it was a good point that applies to most aspects of aviation, but recently I recognized its wisdom concerning cold-weather starts. Everybody knows that preheating aircraft engines is recommended, but so is exercise and a good diet. You donít preheat your car to drive to the airport, so whatís the big deal? One engine is much the same as another, isnít it? Not really. The main difference between automobile engines and airplane engines is the materials they are made of. And the oil they use. And the fuel they use. And the machines they power. And the way they are operated. Okay; just about everything involving airplane engines makes cold-weather preheating important.

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