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Iced Tea and Other Cold Drinks

by Harlan Gray Sparrow III
Reprinted with permission from FAA Aviation News

Let's face it. The only time we aviators want to see ice is in a cold drink and not on our aircraft. So why would any sane aviator depart knowing that icing conditions were forecast to be present along his/her route of flight? Except for pilot reports, icing conditions are always forecast, which means the conditions for the formation of ice on my aircraft may be present along my route of flight. To go or not to go! The truth is that there are many times those ice forecasts are in our weather briefings and yet we never see any ice during our flight. So why worry? Well, it only takes one good coat of ice on your aircraft to make a believer out of you. I decided that since summer is almost over I should start reviewing the latest information available on icing. Okay, maybe I'm a bit early, but as I found out there is a lot of 'stuff' to read. After a bit of Web searching I came up with a few U.S. Government Web sites that seemed to have the most current information. There are even a couple of interesting online courses. Check out these Web sites for yourself.

As we are the FAA, let's discuss those sites first. This first one is probably the best overall site in the bunch. In the General Aviation Pilot's Guide to Preflight Weather Planning, Weather Self-Briefings, and Weather Decision Making, each section is based on what the pilot really needs to know in order to properly evaluate the weather for the upcoming flight. There are references for additional Web sites that take the reader directly to the charts, weather maps, and many other planning resources. Appendix 6 has a very nice Weather Analysis Checklist.

When you think of weather, the National Weather Service comes to mind as a primary source of information. Here are some of the Web sites it has to offer.

These are just a sampling of the available sources for preplanning your trip. Also available for checking out online are free courses, manuals, and advisory circulars (AC) that can provide you with more information.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) provide pilots with a useful training tool. The two courses on aircraft icing offered on this site are great. Most questions about ground icing and in-flight icing should be answered. Enjoy! The Web site address is:

The FAA Safety Program Online Resources offers a variety of information and accompanying links for further guidance. The Web site address is:

The FAA offers a 'Safety Alert for Operators' (SAFO) primarily because of the recent accidents involving ice. This Alert has a number of Web sites imbedded within the document. After reading this, aviators should have no doubt about how much ice on the aircraft is acceptable before takeoff. How about none! The website address is:

The Aeronautical Information Manual  (AIM) is one of my favorite sources of information. In Chapter 7, 'Safety of Flight,' paragraphs 7-1-22 and 7-1-23 address 'PIREPs Relating to Airframe Icing.' They also give one of the best descriptions of how to define 'Icing Types.' Check it out for yourself. When reporting ice to ATC, the definitions in paragraphs 7-1-22 and 7-1-23 are the ones you are suppose to use when making the report. The website address is:

The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge is another wonderful source of information in plain language. Chapter 11, entitled 'Weather Reports, Forecasts, and Charts,' is insightful and comprehensive. The Web site address is:

Last, but certainly not the least is Aviation Weather. AC 00-6A started in 1943 as CAA Bulletin No. 25, Meteorology for Pilots. I have been following the changes and updates to this publication for over thirty-five years. It continues to be a great source for basic weather information for pilots. Pages 91 through 102 are informative about icing and its effects on our aircraft.

The next thought will summarize, and focus, on the preparation that can save lives. Good flight planning will not always prevent you from getting into icing conditions at some time during your career, but at least you will be better prepared and trained for the best possible courses of action. To know what you will do, before the situation presents itself, is key. Plan those moments out painstakingly.

The phrase 'knowledge is power' comes to mind. This is applicable only if the knowledge is put to practical use. Check out these sources and make them favorites on your Web site list. Building a resource Web site list can only enhance and enrich your future aeronautical studies.

I wonder if getting a load of ice on your aircraft qualifies you for a T-shirt saying 'I got Iced.'

Harlan Gray Sparrow III is an Aviation Safety Inspector with Flight Standards Service's Air Transportation Division.

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