By Howard Deevers
Every year, while growing up in the upper mid-west, we looked forward to Spring and warmer weather. What we did not look forward to was Spring Cleaning. Not because it wasn’t a good thing, but it meant extra work helping mom doing things that we had not done in months. Maybe we had to move furniture, or carry out rugs and hang them on a line, or clean out our closets and under the bed. Mom had a routine, you could even call it a “checklist” and in the end, the house sure was cleaner than when we started. That didn't end when I got my own family years later. Maybe not exactly how mom did it, but the Spring Cleaning still existed.
Here in Arizona the winters are not as harsh as in Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and other northern areas, but we still get dirt. I call it Arizona dirt. That lightweight dust that accumulates on my tools, tool boxes, work benches, and desks is just Arizona dirt. Yes, it does settle on and inside of my airplane as well. If you are fortunate enough to have a hangar, you might find less Arizona dirt on your plane than one parked in a shade port or outside, but there will be dirt. Some of the hangars I've been in have not had a good Spring Cleaning in a long time.
Of all of the checklists in our POH, I have never seen one for Spring Cleaning. Our planes do have a requirement for an Annual Inspection. Many people use that time to do a good job of cleaning their airplanes. The ANNUAL inspection does not necessarily include a thorough cleaning of your plane, but some cleaning may be necessary for the AI to do a good inspection for your Annual.
In the flying club in Pittsburgh, we did two scheduled “Spring Cleanings” per year. One in the Spring and one in the Fall. We called the Fall cleaning, “Spring Cleaning #2,” as no one really wanted to call it a Fall Cleaning. The dates for these cleanings were announced in the monthly newsletter, always on a Saturday morning, and the planes were not to be checked out on those dates. The Spring Cleaning was usually about the first part of April, when it was warm enough to enjoy being outside, and the #2 Cleaning was at the end of September, before it got too cold to enjoy being outside. We had 4 planes and 48 members. Not all 48 members would show up, but a significant number would show up, some for only a couple of hours. There was plenty of activity, and all 4 planes got a wash, wax, interior cleaning, and engine degrease. We timed this so that the Annual inspections were due for 2 of the planes for each Cleaning right after we did the work. It turned out to be a very social event with members visiting with each other, swapping stories of flights, travel, and just about anything else.
If you don't belong to a club like that, why not just invite a few friends for a cleaning party and you can supply the pizza and drinks. Your plane will be clean in much less time than trying to do it alone, and the event will turn out to be very social and a good time with friends. Don't forget to return the favor when they need a cleaning party for their airplanes, or even make it a group effort with 2 or more planes and owners assisting each other.
While you are thinking about Spring Cleaning, don't forget to think about your flying skills, also. Time to work on that next rating, or a flight review, or your next phase of the WINGS. Schedule a flight with an instructor and keep current. Look for a Safety Seminar and attend. ARIZONA PILOTS ASSOCIATION sponsors safety seminars all over the State. Check the Web Site for times and locations. And, don't forget to “Bring your wingman.”