Jim N. lives primarily flies in the Upper Midwest. He is the owner of a 1980 Beechcraft 55 Baron with Flight Into Known Icing (FIKI) certified TKS Ice Protection.
Why did you choose TKS?
I originally bought the Baron specifically because I fly over Lake Michigan on a regular basis. A single, even with a parachute, simply does not compare, as survival times in the lake are short, even in the summertime. There have been countless times where there have been forecasts for icing, and the TKS has given me the confidence and ability to fly through. It simply becomes a non-issue.
What does TKS do for your mission?
TKS has been simple to operate and maintain, and has worked flawlessly for years. I would not travel in my Baron without TKS. It has expanded and improved my dispatch rate and increased both my confidence as well as safety. It was well worth the investment.
Have you had any memorable experiences with TKS?
There was one episode that I recall in particular. I was flying westward across Michigan and then Lake Michigan one afternoon in late winter. Everyone on the frequency was reporting ice accumulation, from the surface and well up into the flight levels. ATC was doing their best to accommodate everyone, but it was pretty clear they didn’t have much to work with and nowhere to put people. There were low ceilings everywhere, and then in what seemed to be an instant I started to pick up mixed ice, and quickly. I had already primed the TKS system and was ready. I turned on the TKS, and as usual no further ice accumulated on the wings or tail surfaces. The stuff that had accumulated rapidly turned to slush and fell away. The windshield iced up but was readily freed of ice with TKS from the spray bar. I could see ice covering the landing lights in the wings but all of the visible flying surfaces were clean. There was no risk of runback ice as well. Radio reception started weakening as ice covered the antennas, but a switch to the second radio addressed this problem. I knew from the Nexrad and XM Radio that it was actually clear near the Michigan border of the lake, so I decided to continue. As I crossed Lake Michigan it was fully night, but I could see the ice start to disappear from the windshield. When I landed, there was nearly an inch of mixed ice on the radome and spinners but everything else was entirely clear. Without the TKS I would have been forced to land and spend the night, or possibly faced an even worse outcome. I do not believe the TKS system is for droning along in ice for prolonged periods of time, but is ideally suited for brief periods, knowing there are clear areas ahead.
Have you flown in aircraft with other ice protection systems?
TKS is clearly superior to boots. It does not require maintenance, periodic replacement, and does it not lose any airspeed. It does not require an expensive hot plate or an additional alcohol tank to fill in the nose.