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Hurricanes threaten Atlantic, Pacific areasHurricanes threaten Atlantic, Pacific areas

General aviation pilots should be on high alert as major storms are threatening the United States. Hurricane Florence is predicted to make landfall near the southeast coastline as a Category 4 storm, while Hurricane Olivia is simultaneously barreling toward Hawaii. With heavy rainfall, damaging winds, and storm surge flooding, pilots should make sure they and their aircraft are hunkered down or moved out of harm’s way.

Alexander Gerst, an EU scientist on the International Space Station, captured the immense breadth of Hurricane Florence using a super wide-angle lens while the station passed above the storm. Photo courtesy of NASA.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts Florence to hit the Carolina coast late Sept. 13 or early Sept. 14 as the most powerful storm to breach the area in three decades with winds projected to exceed 140 mph. In the Pacific, Hurricane Olivia is expected to drench Hawaii with up to 15 inches of rain, just weeks after Hurricane Lane caused excessive flooding in the region.

While locals are boarding up their houses, pilots also should be taking precautions with their aircraft.

The best protection is to fly the aircraft out of the storm’s path, but if you’re not able to do that, AOPA has compiled tips for pilots to ensure their aircraft is protected—both literally and figuratively.

An airplane will fare much better inside a hangar than being exposed to the elements, so if available, pilots should reserve one. If your aircraft will be riding out the storm outside, pick a tiedown area free from objects that could damage your aircraft. Consider deflating the tires or digging holes for the wheels to keep the airplane in place, and don’t forget chocks and control locks.

If all else fails, sometimes the best protection against the wrath of mother nature is aircraft insurance. Pilots should not hesitate to call AOPA Insurance Services at 800-622-AOPA (2672), or visit the website.  AOPA Insurance Services also produced a brochure, Hurricane Preparedness: Take action now, on hurricane protection.

Undoubtedly, residents along the East Coast are wary of potential storm damage after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria devastated parts of Texas and Florida last year. In response, the GA community rallied together and flew in supplies to both damage-ridden areas. AOPA put together its own recovery effort working with AERObridge to deliver supplies to the affected areas. With Hurricane Florence expected to hit in the coming days, Operation Airdrop is already preparing to aid in relief. Pilots who want to help can sign up on its website.

Amelia Walsh

Communications Coordinator
AOPA Communications Coordinator Amelia Walsh joined AOPA in 2017. Named after the famous aviatrix, she comes from a family of pilots and is currently working on her pilot certificate.
Topics: Aviation Industry, Pilots, Weather

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