Ice, ice Baby

Lake Michigan Ice, that is….

So Saturday, the day dawned bright and clear…..the ceiling was 25000 feet, with a bit of haze and the winds were calm.

Since¬† (due to weather) I hadn’t flown since Feb 1st, and since flying, like shooting, is a perishable skill, I turned on the engine heater via the internet, drove to the airport, opened the hangar doors, preflighted, and listened to the ASOS….started the plane and taxiied to the runway. Did 3 touch and goes, then departed to the west. I left the pattern, turned north and flew to Lake Michigan. There, I turned east and flew along the lakeshore. I asked South Bend Approach for Flight following as the lakeshore is often full of planes doing sightseeing (as I was)….The shoreline was covered with ice, out to about 1 mile. Last year there was no ice….which led to a great deal of erosion along the lakeshore.

Here you can see the shoreline off of Michigan CIty, facing east into Michigan, The NIPSCO coal fired power plant is towards the bottom of the photo right by the harbor entrance. Ice all along the lakeshore, out to about a mile or more.

I flew back along the lakeshore to the west, and went to the state line, turned and went back east past Gary (KGYY). Here is the view towards Chicago from (approximately) the Indiana/Illinois state line.¬† You can’t see the skyline in the photo, but it was there to the naked eye, if somewhat indistinct. You can see the ice cover on the lake though…

I returned to my airport and did a Short Field landing for practice.

Overall, 4 landings and 1.6 hours of flying.

I had originally planned to go see Eaton Rapids Joe for lunch on Sunday, but the weather chose to make that a bad idea due to icing, so we cancelled. (My next plane will have some ice protection…the 182 has none). I have experienced icing in the 182 once…..I now avoid it as much as I can. We had icing in Northwest Indiana from 2 pm onward, so that was a good decision…..But I was saddened that I had to cancel lunch with Joe. Next time, I guess. It was the right decision, as I could have flown there in good weather, but coming back, well, that might be interesting. …..We had ice at 3 PM, and overcast by 5. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor and all that. Soon it will be warm enough that icing will be a non-issue, but right now, I gotta respect the fact that it can kill me.







5 thoughts on “Ice, ice Baby

  1. Smart move. Live to fly another day IS the correct mantra.

  2. Here’s a suggestion for a post for us non-pilots.
    I kind of understand the icing problem, but maybe get into how and why.

  3. The short answer: Ice changes the shape of the airfoils, meaning that a plane’s wing will begin to stall much sooner. In addition (and probably more importantly) it makes the tail surfaces much less effective, leading to control issues….and then the plane can’t fly and will usually roll and enter a dive, from which recovery is not possible.

    Shorter answer: It will make you crash.

    • The added weight of the ice doesn’t help any either.


  4. weight isn’t that great of a factor. Worst case, you will drift down to a lower altitude. It is the disruption of airflow over the wings and control surfaces that kills you.
    Generally the icing kills the airflow long before weight becomes a factor, even on larger airplanes, much less small ones.

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