|Brick Starting Temperature
||Time to Cool to 70 Degrees
|Desired Brick Temperature
||Electric Blanket Power
Remember....if the air is cold, or even cool, ANY bare
skin is going to be susceptible to any draft. The
pictures show how a scarf is going to be a real advantage
when the temperature goes down. But the same is true
for ANY part of your body. Your neck, your hands,
your arms if you don't keep the breezes out.
Now, this doesn't mean you have to wrap up like the
Michelin man for every flight. It's just that you
have to pick your open-cockpit wear with some
consideration as to the expected temperature and the
planned duration of your flight. I provide some
advice along these lines, included in the Graphic Guide at the tail
end of this posting.
Commensurate with protecting your bare skin from direct
air contact is the ability of whatever you're wearing to
keep the cold out.
A number of years back, I went flying with another Fly
Baby owner. When we got to the destination, he was
hunched over, shivering. I was just fine.
The difference was our coats. He was wearing a
heavy coat. A heavy CLOTH coat...wool, I
think. I was wearing my standard A2 flight jacket.
Insulation works by trapping air and letting your body
heat warm it up. But if you wear wool on the
OUTSIDE, the air it tries to trap is continually replaced
with new cold air.
The difference (again, depending on whether it's actually
cold or not) is that your outer clothing must be
windproof. That's where leather excels. The
cold air may make the outside of the leather cold, but the
cold air itself doesn't penetrate.
Now...it doesn't HAVE to be a leather coat. Hans Teijgeler flies his Fly Baby in
Holland, where it does get nippy in the winter. He
wears an MA-1 flying jacket; the USAF's nylon-shelled
flight jacket first introduced in the 1950s. The MA-1
has several factors going for it. Te nylon
does pretty good at keeping the wind out, there's
good, modern insulation,
the knit bottom keeps drafts from coming from
below, and the cut of the jacket makes it less
likely to snag when sliding into the
cockpit. It's also less bulky that the
heavy-duty leather coats like the Irwin jacket
or the B-3.
like the look of leather flying coats...but,
certainly, if you've got something that'll keep
the wind out, go for it. Make sure it had
knit sleeves, though. Open sleeves can act
like funnels to bring cold air inside the coat.
don't... DO NOT...just put on a sweater or
sweatshirt without anything over it and expect
to be comfortable. You need the windproof
more information on leather flying gear, see my
"Leather Jackets for the
Flying helmets are used for two
things: Keeping the cold air off your head, and
providing attachment points for your headset and goggles,
The Swiss have a saying: "If your feet are cold,
put on your hat." There are a TON of blood vessels
running through your scalp to keep the brain at proper
temperature. If you let your head get cold, the rest
of your body will follow.
If the weather is really warm, I may not wear a helmet. But unless it's in the 90s, I do.
Three basic options: Cloth, Leather, and Shearing.
Leather and cloth helmets are usually the same style,
except for the material. Leather is more windproof,
of course, so I recommend leather. If you live in a
warm climate, with not much opportunity to fly in cold
weather, a cloth one may be the right pick.
Shearling helmets are basically the skin of a sheep, wool
attached, turned inside out. That's a shearling
helmet on the right. I'd make this a last pick; buy
one if you try flying in the winter and are just too
cold. Otherwise, skip the shearling.
When you buy a helmet, you need to decide if you want the
kind that works with a radio headset. I figure a
headset is worth 10-30 degrees of warmth, right there.
More information on my Helmet
Your face is exposed to the cockpit eddy, too. I
have a spandex balaclava that fits nicely under my flying
helmets, and keeps my face comfortable. Wool ski
masks would work, too. Fortunately, the cockpit eddy
doesn't seem that strong at the face.
In the colder weather, you'll definitely need a
scarf. Not only does it protect your bare neck, it
keeps drafts from shooting down the back of your jacket
(yow!). See my scarf page
for more information.
Don't forget gloves! I have a common set of leather
gloves for most flying, but a set of ski gloves for when
it gets cold. Very cold-weather gloves should be
long enough to go over your jacket cuffs and keep your
When it gets really cold, thermal underwear provides a
nice extra layer.
For the most part, my flying in done in ~20° F weather
and I don't worry much about my feet. Heavy socks,
but usually wear regular shoes. Again, though, the
Fly Baby is pretty sealed up forward....if you're flying
something else, you might need better protection to your
Other Fly Baby guys have suggested other
approaches. Drew Fidoe runs a "trunk" from the
aircraft heater and tucks it into his flying suit.
He also suggests chemical hand-warmers. Another
person point out that there are electric suits for
motorcycle riders that might work as well.
How can you tell if you're dressed adequately for the
flight? In my case, for cold weather flights, if I'm not
sweating a bit after climbing into the airplane and strapping
in....well, I'm probably underdressed.