The Importance of a Clean Windshield When Flying

By Wiley Stickney

Published on

The Importance of a Clean Windshield When Flying
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Flying with a dirty windshield isn’t just an annoyance; it’s downright risky. As spring and summer bring rain and bugs, here’s why it’s a big deal.

Hindered Forward Visibility

Having dirt and bugs plastered on your windshield can seriously mess with your ability to see what’s ahead, especially when you’re flying fast or dealing with different weather conditions. Plus, sun glare can make things even worse.

Don’t forget to give your windshield a good once-over before takeoff. Skipping this step could mean ending up with a view that’s anything but clear, and that’s a recipe for accidents.

Rainy Weather Woes

If you’re flying without windshield wipers, rainy weather can be a real headache. The more gunk on your windshield, the harder it is for raindrops or mist to get out of your line of sight, which is pretty crucial when you’re landing.

Serious buildup can make rain or mist stick to your windshield, making it even harder to see.

Keeping an Eye on Traffic

When air traffic control gives you a heads up about nearby planes, having a clean windshield is key. Dirt and bugs can seriously mess with your ability to spot other aircraft, making it way easier to accidentally bump into someone.

Having a clear view is essential for spotting and avoiding other planes up in the sky.

Consider how a camera lens adjusts to focus beyond raindrops on glass. Your eyes work similarly, ensuring clarity beyond obstacles with remarkable efficiency.

Navigating Nighttime Landings

Nighttime landings pose unique challenges, especially with a dirty windshield. Reduced visibility combined with grime can make it even harder to see clearly. As you approach the runway, bright lights can further obscure your view.

When your windshield is dirty, light disperses, making it tough to see outside clearly. This blurring effect messes with your depth and height perception, making landing and taxiing a real hassle.

Effective Cleaning Methods

For acrylic windshields commonly found in GA aircraft, steer clear of harsh cleaners and paper towels to avoid scratches. Instead, opt for microfiber cloths paired with approved cleaners like Plexus or All Kleer. While hands-free washing is ideal, it’s not always practical.

Our recommendation? Use Adam’s Polishes Rinseless Wash with microfiber cloths to get rid of dirt and bugs. Follow it up with a gentle polish using a Double Soft Microfiber Towel for a spotless, scratch-free windshield.

PRO TIP: When removing bugs, don’t press too hard on the windshield. Instead, use plenty of liquid to soften them before gently wiping them away. If your cloth gets too dirty, swap it out to avoid scratching your windshield with the bugs’ tough shells.

Wiley is a former commercial pilot and flight instructor, who has flown over 50 different types of aircraft, from small propellers to large jets. He writes about the technical aspects of flying, such as aircraft design, aerodynamics, navigation, weather, and safety.