Welcome to January 2009, the beginning of another outdoor flying season. That’s right, here it is January and, except for those who have been flying indoors or have been burning up CPU cycles on their flight simulators, we’re already beginning to work out those kinks in our thumbs caused by a lack of exercise. So here is my yearly January H.I.T.S. article reminding everyone that things are just a little different in the winter. Some of you already know about winter flying precautions, however we could always use a reminder plus we may have some new members who will find the information useful. So here they are, (a rerun for some but like the TV commercial says “If you haven’t seen it before, it’s new to you”), the annual “The Winter Flying Rules” article.

Li-Poly Batteries don’t like the cold! If you’re flying electrics, don’t think you are immune to the cold. While the gas and glow guys may have problems starting, you could have problems flying. At last year’s Polar Bear event a pilot flying an electric got his plane stuck in a tree due to a battery “failure”. He had tried several times to take off but each time he ‘flamed out’ just after getting airborne. On the third attempt he took off and began his turn to the South when the power drain on his cold battery became such that the low voltage circuit on the ESC kicked in and cut off power to the motor. This was what was causing his failed take off runs. The battery warmed up enough for takeoff but could not sustain flight. While cold temperatures effect all types of batteries causing them to lose some power, this seems to happen much more quickly with Li-Po batteries. My NiCad powered Zagi flew the same day for several minutes without incident. So keep those Li-Poly batteries warm as long as you can.

Rubber bands don’t hold in the cold! This is probably one that a lot of folks may not know about. But a temperature of anything below thirty degrees is just too cold for rubber bands. I’ve experienced this personally and it’s NOT a good feeling watching your wing separate from the fuselage as you’re flying across the field. Actually you wind up staring at the wing because it flutters slowly down like a leaf, while all of the important stuff in the fuselage does a Kamikaze dive into the woods. This rule holds true for both glow and electric models, after all rubber bands are rubber bands. So either keep those models where the wing or anything else is held on by rubber bands at home or use something else, maybe a plastic wire tie, along with the rubber bands to help hold everything together.

Beware of Loose Cloth around spinning props! In the cold weather we tend to dress in layers, shirts, sweatshirts, jackets etc. Make sure to tie those sweatshirt hood strings and tuck them away inside your jacket or sweatshirt. The same is true for scarves and jacket strings. You don’t want to leave anything dangling that might get caught in a spinning prop. This is especially true around “electrics”. Electrics start with a simple flip of the switch and are therefore more prone to starting up accidentally. Also electric motors won’t stall and quit running like glow engines might if something falls in the prop. Electric motors will simply draw more power to try and keep running.

Anchor your model Securely! You need to take care when anchoring you model in the winter months. You want to be sure that whatever you use to hold your model is firmly implanted in the ground and not just in loose snow. Generally I find it’s always good to get a helper to hold the model when starting it and making adjustments. Your helper can also carry your model past the safety line and out to the field