Now that the winter season is starting to fade in most parts of the country, pilots everywhere are looking forward to the flying season ahead. If your aircraft has spent the last few months collecting dust, there are few things that need to be checked before you take off for that $100 hamburger.
First of all, make sure that the battery is in good condition and fully charged. The first start after a period of inactivity will put a heavy demand upon the battery, plus it is also beneficial to have enough battery power to help with some additional engine cranking if needed. The best way to ensure a good battery charge is to remove the battery from the aircraft and use a slow “trickle” charger rather than a rapid charger. This presents less risk of damage and more chance of recovering a discharged battery. Rapid charging of a battery can sometimes cause damage by delaminating the cell plates.
Next check the fuel for water. Leaky fuel caps and condensation can cause water to form in the bottom of the tanks or become suspended in the fuel. Water contamination is easiest to find if the aircraft has sat still without any movement, as agitation will encourage the mixing of water and fuel at the boundary where the two meet. It is usually best to check the fuel before moving the aircraft, and then again after moving to allow any trapped water to flow down to the sump points. Be sure to allow at least 30 minutes after moving the aircraft to allow the water time to settle.