By Damien Ristaino
Gloves. All of us are taught to use them when flying. When we notice another is not using them we mildly scold asking “Where are your gloves?” They are considered essential personal protective equipment (PPE). We use them to protect against rope burn, heat as a result of onboard fire, and during refueling to prevent freeze burns.
A set of gloves that are designed for a single purpose in mind can be a poor choice for other purposes. I currently use two sets of gloves: one to fly with and another to refuel with.
I had used welder’s gloves for refueling. I thought that since they were thick and could withstand heat from welding that they would be a good choice for refueling. I learned from a propane technician that this is incorrect.
The set I fly with are climbers belay gloves and have thick leather with reinforcement for rope abrasion. I wanted them to last so I would not be replacing them often. During an unplanned propane leak I discovered that those gloves will not protect me from freeze burns with exposure of beyond maybe a minute. I now have a lack in confidence they will protect me in an onboard fire that take more than a minute to put out.
As we all should know, proper pre-flight checks and inspections plus sound decision making prevents most accidents from happening; however, that doesn’t mean we won’t encounter an issue that has us relying on our gloves. I encourage you to find PPE that is engineered for the task. Basic utility gloves are not good enough in either a prolonged exposure to extreme heat or cold. Nomex or Kevlar materials are suitable for heat but not designed for freeze burn protection. Kevlar is suitable for rope abrasion protection. I was given a pair of Winter Tuf Duk Gloves by a propane tech that would protect against cold and look like they would stand up to rope abrasion. I’m still in search for something to fly with that will withstand both fire and subzero temps.
So what kind of gloves do you use?