September 2013 Issue

Wing Shape And Ice

Some airplane wing designs handle icing better than others. But it’s all relative, and the best solution is to avoid ice or get out of it as soon as possible.

I’m a South Florida lady, and so is my fine flying machine. It’s relatively fat wing, tapered tips, relatively thin horizontal and vertical tail surfaces and elevator with “horns” are made of .032 aircraft-grade aluminum coated with paint (and not even that much paint). And even though I’m at a balmy 30 degrees North latitude, a momentary jaunt through the middle of a building cumulous cloud at the right altitude and outside temperature can easily coat my aircraft in a shiny glazing of thick, clear ice.

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