Houston is hot, hots hot

Any tips for cooling the cabin when most of our flights now are under the class B umbrella at low altitude.

Dave Dillehay

Dakota N8442A


  • Dave;

    Flying mornings and evenings are your best times for avoiding the heat. If you must fly during the heat of the day, and you don't have air conditioning, there are some choices.

    1. Purchase or build a cabin chiller from a cooler, pump, radiator, bags of ice, and a 12 vdc fan.
    2. Have air conditioning installed.
    3. If your airplane is not equipped with one, have a cool scoop installed. While taxiing, I use the scoop and crack the door an inch or 2. It won't drop the temp, but you'll get good airflow through the cabin, and it will relieve the heat. Remember to latch and lock the door prior to takeoff.
    4. Fly out far enough underneath the class Bravo and climb to a comfortable altitude. My home airport is directly under the O'Hare class Bravo, and while we don't have the heat you do in HOU, 90's and even low 100 temps are common here in the summer, so I understand.

    Jim "Doc Griff" Griffin
    PA28 - 161
    Chicago area

  • Hi David,

    I’m not in Houston any more but here is what I use to stay cool during the blazing Ohio summers…. 😎

    A fly a Piper Seneca and I purchased thru Arctic Air, a Cooler like Griff describes. it actually works pretty well…

    • Precool the Airplane with it, it fits very nice in the Aft Baggage Compartment.
    • Use it for Ground Ops, Intial Climb and then again for Landing and Taxi In. You may not need it Enroute.
    • lt’ll run you about $600 and use acouple of bags of Ice. If run constant, it will cool for a few hours. Now, it’s NOT “Conditioned Air” but it will take the extreme heat outa the air and you will be able to feel it.

    I was based in IAH with Continental 100 years ago and it was difficult to cool down a 727 back then, I can imagine it’s even tougher now with “Climate Change”! 😛

    Hope that helps!

    Stay Safe, Fly Fun!


    N8434M KLPR

  • I have the ice based systems and I am also testing a mini-split system that is low BTU's but fits between the Seneca Seats and brings cool air to the cockpit (at the expense of the rear cabin).

    18V fans like these work well too. Although it provides no cooling the airflow alone is nice - especially in a dry climate (Sorry Houston!)


    There are a number of interesting 12V mini-split systems now but they would have a tough time at a legal install. Mostly it is an issue of the power consumption (40-80A) and the need to dump all of that heat pumped away from the cabin. A popular option is into the tail but this is not ideal as approval path is doubtful, there are a lot of important things back there, there are often many expensive electronics too. Whatever you install temp or otherwise would need to be secured against limit g-loads too...

    I like the big fan as this is a massive amount of air flow and while not providing any direct cooling does help you cool down. It is also affordable, easy to secure, and easy to remove. This one does not have a remote switch which would be nice.

    Eric Panning
    1981 Seneca III
    Hillsboro, OR (KHIO)

  • edited May 28

    FWIW, the brand name for the pictured drum fan is one that I have learned to generically skip. Some time ago, a neighbor warned me about the price of lesser expensive items, and that brand was specifically mentioned. Of course, I had to learn from experience and, all of that brand's items that I purchased had short lives. Their service life was arguably in the light duty range, so all the more concerning that they died early lives. Maybe that company has built in better durability since my last experience, but the damage was done from my perspective and I am not looking back.

    As the items died, the neighbor's voice repeated in my head, and I spent more money on different brands with better reputations and higher costs. Have yet to replace any of the replacements.

    Back to the thread's main topic. If not already part of the equation, maybe try window tint which rejects IR and UV?

  • hey jacobsja,

    Are you referring to the Ryobi fan?

    Dave Dillehay

    Dakota N8442A

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