08 Feb 2013 / by Pilot Michael / in Pilot Michael
In And Out Of The Ice
I had the opportunity to sit right seat in a Cessna 421 on a trip to Arizona and Back. The weather between Los Angeles and Northern Arizona wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. A cold front had just moved through California and was moving through Arizona, a cold front we would have to go directly through. What this meant was we were likely to experience bumps (we did) and because of the moisture in the air we were likely to encounter flying in icing conditions (we did). Bumps don’t bother me at all while flying, airplanes are built to take it, ice on the other hand I don’t like. It’s not that properly equipped airplanes can’t fly through ice, they can. My fear comes from a lack of available preflight information to inform me how much icing I am likely to encounter. Icing intensity and type is a meteorological phenomenon that is tough to forecast. There are several types of icing from Rime (no big deal) to clear ice (big deal). The only way to have a really good idea what kind of ice your going to encounter is to ask the airplane in front of you or check the reports of airplanes that have been through the same area very recently. The other thing I don’t like about flying through ice is the rate of accumulation can change from trace to heavy in a split second. This trip we only encountered trace to light ice and still it was unnerving to watch it accumulate on the leading edge of the wing. Every cycle of the ice protection system to remove the ice provided a sense of relief since the airplane was no longer carrying its parasitic passenger. Another safe day flying, more experience to add to my logbook.