March 27-April 1, 2012
Sun ’n Fun Today - www.sun-n-fun.org
Protect your plane
Photo by John Slemp
By MEG GODLEWSKI The crowds on the flightline are expected to be bigger this year due to the appearance of the Thunderbirds. While this means more people will see your pride and joy, it also can put your airplane at greater risk for inadvertent damage. Although you can’t be there all the time, there are some things you can do to protect your airplane when you aren’t around. “Do not touch” placards are a must. These are provided for display aircraft when you register. These cardboard sleeves slip over the propeller. Verify the security of your aircraft tiedowns. If you use single stakes, insert them into the ground at a diagonal. A stake inserted on a diagonal takes more force to lift out of the ground than one driven straight into the ground. You may want to invest in the “claw” type of aircraft tie-down. Instead of a single stake in the ground, there are three at different angles. As the name implies, it resembles a claw when used properly. According to pilots who use them, they are easier to install and remove, yet provide sturdier protection than the one-stake varieties. Make sure gust locks are installed correctly. Do not leave anything near your airplane that can be thrown, such as a football or a Frisbee, a model glider or even extra tie-down stakes. Also don’t leave
any cleaning products that have a spray trigger around. One unsupervised kid is all it takes to do damage. Put these items out of sight. Be careful of the position of your propeller. In camping areas experienced campers recommended that you turn the propeller so the blades are vertical. Someone walking between rows at night is less likely to hit the blade. In adverse weather, such as high winds, do not try to “save your airplane.” If the wind is blowing hard enough, the plane could flip over and land on you. The aircraft can be replaced. You can’t.
Take all the expensive portable items, such as yoke-mounted GPS and headsets, out of your cockpit. Either lock them up or hide them well. Although most people are honest, there are some folks who see large events as an opportunity to steal. Taxi a little bit slower than you would normally, especially if there are lots of people around. Some of them may be aviation novices and may walk with their backs to the aircraft or on taxiways instead of on footpaths, and could step into the line of a wing. Supervise the refueling of your aircraft.
Getting up close to an airplane is privilege, not a right. For first-timers, here are some rules to remember when you visit the flight line: • Do not walk in front of an airplane that is taxiing toward you. • Do not walk with your back to a moving airplane. When an aircraft approaches, step off to the side, well clear of the wings, and turn to face the pilot. Wait until the aircraft moves by before you start moving again. • Don’t touch the airplanes without the owners’ permission. • Be careful about walking beneath the wings of airplanes because sometimes oil and fuel drip. • Be careful that you do not walk into a propeller or pitot tube or trip over wheels or tie-down ropes. • Hold small children by the hand to make sure they don’t dart out in front of a moving airplane. • Do not let your children play with things that can be thrown, such as toy airplanes. If a thrown item hits an airplane, it can damage it. • If you are looking into an airplane, be careful not to lean against it. • Be careful about jewelry, watches, belt buckles, cell phones and cameras. These can accidentally scratch or even tear the skin on an aircraft. • Do not sit on aircraft.
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