Whether you’re taking off for a leisurely weekend trip or for business, you have a few different choices for storing your private plane once you land. With over 5,000 airports in the continental United States, some the services at each airport may vary greatly. Plus, availability (or knowledge of availability) and the prices of options to store your plane can vary greatly.
Some pilots prefer to use tie-downs located in dedicated aircraft parking lots across the country. Tie-downs are cheap (or even free in some cases), accessible, and easy to use.
However, storing your plane outside or using a tie-down has its drawbacks. Exposure to the elements could lead to quicker deterioration of your aircraft, which could mean higher maintenance costs over time. Not to mention the price of theft or vandalism to your plane. Both of these risks can lead to costly maintenance repairs that you can avoid by storing your plane in a hangar.
On top of this, extreme weather patterns are increasingly becoming more frequent. Pilots and flight desk operators need to make sure they not only have a smart flight plan, but that they have a smart ground-plan for protecting their plane when they need to land.
Here are the potential risks of storing your plane outside, and how you can prolong the life of your plane and save money by using a private hangar.
Increasingly Extreme Weather Patterns
Unpredictable and violent weather occurrences are more frequently being posted on social media outlets and weather resource websites. Regardless of whether this information sharing is because of increasingly irregular weather patterns or because we have more technological platforms to share information, being stuck in a storm mid-air could lead to devastating outcomes. Before taking off, pilots and/or their flight desk operators spend time putting together flight plans for that very reason.
The climate data below is from Denver, CO, from 2010 to April 2019. The graphs depict temperature and precipitation data for the current time period, measured against historical averages.*
*(2016 data was partial).
We can take away 3 important observations from these 10 years’ worth of data:
- Weather is cyclical;
- Some years are drought-heavy, while others are precipitation heavy. Others are well balanced (2010 for example), and
- Temperatures generally follow the trend lines. However, the amplitudes of the temperature differences in minimum and maximum seem to be increasingly larger.
Even with this data. we can see that weather is constantly shifting from year to year and month to month, providing pilots with an ever-changing challenge when taking flight. This is why flight plans are so important.
However, one thing that pilots and flight desk operators can forget is a ground plan. What do you do with your aircraft when you’re not in flight?
Risk of Weather Damage
When you use an outdoor tie-down, your plane is vulnerable to harsh weather patterns. Although private planes are industrious in the face of most weather events, prolonged exposure can lead to quicker deterioration and more maintenance costs over the life of the aircraft.
Whether it’s a windy fall morning in Maine, a cold snowy evening in the Midwest, or a hot summer day in the Rockies, any of these conditions can add wear and tear to your aircraft. And high-altitude environments with harsh UV exposure can add extra stress to the exterior of your plane.
Exposure to high UV rays can dull your paint job, fade your decals, damage acrylic windows, and reduce the life of fabric coverings. Meanwhile, extreme cold and snow can damage any wood or fabric details, while hail can damage metal exteriors.
Storing your plane in a hangar means prolonging the life and health of your plane. Plus, if you’re about to fly out on a particularly warm, wet, or frigid day, your plane will be dry and comfortable when you hop inside.
Risk of Vandalism and Pests
What do vandals, thieves, and vermin all have in common? Complete access to your private plane when you use an outdoor tie-down.
Private planes are far from a cheap investment. The last thing you want to worry about is having parts of your plane broken or stolen. If your plane is vandalized in any way without your detection, it could pose a serious risk to your safety when you fly.
One lesser-known risk for storing your plane outdoors is the ability for animals and other vermin to weasel into your plane. Whether they chew on certain parts, leave droppings, or get stuck and perish, you don’t want to find out your plane has a mice problem once you’re 10,000 feet in the air.
Airports are often much more secure than tie downs, with fences or other security measures in place. Ideally, airports should be well-lit, have motion-activated lighting, cameras, and all employees should be trained to be watchful for crime. But that doesn’t always prevent theft or vandalism.
Recently, avionics were stolen out of at least 16 aircraft in Aurora, Missouri. The total value of the lost items is estimated to be close to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Risk of Higher Maintenance and Repair Costs
Damage caused by exposure to the elements or by damage or theft both lead to the third risk of storing your private plane outside: higher and more frequent maintenance and repair costs.
Repainting your sun-baked airplane or replacing a cracked window after a hail storm isn’t cheap. Neither is replacing or fixing broken or stolen parts.
Using a tie-down for your aircraft may seem like the cheaper option at first blush. But when you add up the potential costs associated with storing your plane outside, using a hangar can save you money over time.
Parking in a hangar will help protect your aircraft from both weather damage and the risk of vandalism and theft. But not all airports will have private hangars available when you need them. And if a bad storm is rolling in, availability may be sparse and the price may be high.
That’s where Daily Hangar comes in. We are growing a community of available transient hangar spaces that are identifiable on a map. We provide detailed descriptions of each hangar, available amenities, pricing, and availability specific to your aircraft.
We are continuing to build our network of private hangars and FBOs across the country, allowing pilots and flight desk operators to book hangars in advance. We’re here to help you get the access you need to a hangar for your aircraft whenever you need it.