Steven Gerbel lives in Chicago and primarily flies within the Midwest. He owns a 2015 Cessna TTx equipped with Flight Into Known Icing (FIKI) certified TKS Ice Protection, and has flown the airplane for 2 years.
How did you get started in aviation?
I started taking pilot lessons five years ago. Currently I am working on my multi-engine commercial rating.
Why did you choose TKS?
I bought the TTx so I could get the FIKI. That was a huge reason for my purchase. In the Chicagoland area, from October until early May, there is a tremendous amount of moisture around here. Lake Michigan is a moisture producing monster. It is always cloudy. In the Midwest right around the lake, your flying is reduced by probably 40% if you don’t have it in the winter. You can also have days when you encounter icing in the summer. In May and June, you get up where it’s colder. You’re wearing shorts in the plane, but you’ve got clouds and you’re picking up ice. TKS is even more necessary around here. I know a few pilots/manufacturers representatives based in Minnesota that swear by it. They almost never feel the need to cancel their flights in FIKI-equipped airplanes during the winter because of icing conditions.
What did TKS do for your mission?
It’s allowed me to go and take missions. I remember one vehemently. We were coming from Kansas back to Chicago in March and there were clouds. We were in and out of them continuously. Without the TKS I would not have gone. For the most part, when you get up there you’re confident that you can get over the clouds. But sometimes the clouds are higher than you anticipate. Sometimes there’s a patch of clouds that you just need to go through for 10 minutes. I am very averse; I’m not going to take that chance. Either I’m going to land and wait it out, go really low underneath them if I can, or I’m going to cancel. Most of the time I cancel my trips. TKS has specifically increased my winter flying.
Have you had any memorable experiences with TKS?
No, because I have used it so carefully. Please take that as a compliment. The TKS system has worked extremely well. When I get out of my plane sometimes, on the nose cone there’s ice. But it’s clear on the prop, and on the wings. Maybe there’s ice on the wingtip where it’s unprotected. The tail—the vertical and horizontal stabilizers—are all clean. I’m always kind of shocked at how clean they are. I am a very happy customer.