Cold weather flying:
A sailing buddy of mine says, “There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” I suppose he's right. If men can go to the poles in furs and snow shoes, I guess we ought to be able to fly our planes in most anything. Well, anyway, there are those of us who are game to fly in less than perfect conditions, generally meaning cold, windy, rainy, or all of the above....
I thought I would share some of my own experiences and preferences for surviving the Midwestern winter RC experience. First of all... It's cold out there! Let's talk about keeping warm. Your most fashionable Ski outfit might not be the best choice for standing around on a breezy sub zero day instead of working hard zooming down the slopes. You need warm clothes and maybe some calories from an outside source.
Clothing... from the ground up.
Heavy, well insulated boots and wool socks of course. I find that “Toasty Toes” chemical warming packs really work well with my trusty old work boots. Another comfy option are big “Mukluk” felt lined snow boots. Better to keep those tootsies warm then try to warm them up after they get cold. Especially if you're old with poor circulation like me.
While we're at ground level, be alert for icing. You know how dangerous that is! You can't de-ice the whole pits and runway area, but you can buy some strap on cleats to keep you on your feet!
Jeans don't cut it! In fact anything cotton doesn't cut it. Get out your Carharts, or anything warm and wind proof. Long johns can help, especially some of the new synthetic high tech stuff. You might want to establish whether you have adequate “access” for those necessary trips to the little blue room.
Layers are handy for the torso. A windbreaking outer layer is vital. Down or synthetics insulate well. Wool is still great. Avoid cotton undershirts. A little bit of sweat and you'll be miserable the rest of the day. Stick with a good synthetic that wicks away moisture and warms back up when you need it.
You need your hands to fly. I love my little transmitter bag. I think it cost me $12 from Hobbyking. I toss a couple of “Hot Hands” chemical warmers and life is good inside the bag. When they're not in the bag, my hands are in gloves. Chemical warmers in the palms help to keep the arthritic old claws flexible. I stock up on warmer bags at Farm and Fleet for pennies on the dollar each Spring when they're on clearance.
They say if you keep your head warm, the rest of you will be OK too. Start with the ears. Good earmuffs, or furry flaps plus something around the neck is good. Again, staying warm is easier then warming up later!
Don't forget the eyes. Cold air blowing on my eyes makes them water and shortens my flights. It's hard to land while crying, even if they're tears of joy. I use those “Solar Shields” that fit over my glasses and keep the wind off my eyes. Sometimes if the glare off the snow is bad, I'll use the Solar Sheilds over regular sunglasses (clip-ons in my case).
With the proper clothes and preparation the whole world becomes a big white runway! Have fun out there. Stay warm and good luck starting your engines! PS those heat packs work well strapped to batteries too!
Happy landings! Mike Trautman