Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ice may or may not be nice

One winter day in Vermont, I was headed down to Boston on business in my 1965 B-55 Baron. It was a good ol' bird, but only had minimal anti-ice equipment: heated pitot and alcohol props.  These were important as generally the weather reports always contained some ice warning such as light to moderate rime icing in clouds and precipitation.  In the Baron, this was okay, as the plane could easily handle light or even moderate rime ice.  The trick was not to stay in icing conditions too long. Generally, this meant climbing higher to colder air.  This particular trip was no different.  On climb out of Burlington, I experienced light rime ice on the leading edges of the wings which stopped as soon as I had climbed above the clouds (IFR flight plan).  The rest of the trip was cake.  The sobering thing was, after returning to Burlington, I learned about a Mooney 20 or 21 that had crashed in the Rutland area apparently due to icing experienced the same day at about the same time I did. The difference?  Different planes can handle things like icing with more or less capability.  The Mooney, for example, has a sleek, very efficient laminar wing that cannot tolerate any ice.  

Moral of the story:  know your airplane, its capabilities and limitations and don't try to beat them.  

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