I've noticed that at many airports, the transient GA parking spaces often don't have tie-down anchors (e.g. bolts drilled into the pavement; heavy steel cables, etc.) or tie-down ropes. They simply have a "T" painted on the ground to indicate the parking alignment. This is true even for many FBO-managed parking spaces.

How should I secure my airplane at these parking spaces? Even if I had my own tie-down ropes, there's nothing to attach the ropes to.

I'm hesitant to just chock the wheels, as this does not prevent a gust of wind from blowing the aircraft around.

Should I ask if there's a patch of grass and use an artificial temporary anchor/Klaw system? Is this even commonly available at your average GA airport?

Note: I only need to park the plane for a few hours, not overnight.

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    $\begingroup$ I've been provided with concrete wieghts and tie-down cables at some airfields $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2019 at 17:06

2 Answers 2


Tie downs are generally for overnight or longer. Nobody ties down an airplane for a visit of a few hours unless there is something forecast in that few hours like high winds or thunderstorms. And if that's the case, you will want move it somewhere on the airport that has unused permanent tie downs or inside a hangar for the duration of the weather event.

Most screw or spike-in grass anchor systems are useless for serious winds and are easily pulled out. There are several Youtube videos that demonstrate how ineffective they are, with the exception of one system that uses large spade like blades driven into the ground.

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    $\begingroup$ "Nobody ties down an airplane for a visit of a few hours..."? Guess I'm nobody, then :-) $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Mar 11, 2019 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ Yep lol... Seriously, if you have good chocks and it's a normal day, there's really no need unless you're leaving it overnight. Leaving airplanes on parking brakes? That's another story. Chocks are a must. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Mar 11, 2019 at 22:07
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    $\begingroup$ IDK - lots of small strips have tiedowns, but not chocks laying around. (Of course I'm more used to the sort of rural/backcountry strips that don't have actual FBOs, and often not anyone else around...) $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Mar 12, 2019 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ You should absolutely have chocks on board. Make some homemade ones if necessary. If it's a tri gear airplane I usually just chock the nose wheel if it's just for a short time and it's level ground. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Mar 12, 2019 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ If the ramp has tie-downs, I use them, regardless of how long I'll be away. If the FBO needs to move my plane, well, the ramp workers surely have enough experience with the ropes/chains that it's not an issue. If not, do I want them moving my plane? $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Mar 12, 2019 at 20:43

My experience is that most FBOs have tiedown areas, often on pavement. Some have them on grass for light airplanes.

It is inconvenient for an FBO to have aircraft tied down, particularly at a busy FBO. It slows down reconfiguring the ramp, and moving planes up to the lobby for loading.

My understanding, from talking with several FBO managers, is that the FBO is considered to be responsible for the aircraft while it is in their care on their ramp. If an unexpected front comes barreling in, they have to juggle things and secure the planes. Assuming that is the case universally (I can't say) then your problem is solved.

Most ramps that I have used have tiedowns. Some are concrete inlays with cast loops, and some at smaller airfields are concrete inlays with bent rebar sticking out.

I agree with your reluctance to just chock the wheels, and on most planes one does not want to leave the parking brake set (especially in rising temperatures).

My suggestion is that if you are uncomfortable, you call in advance to secure a tiedown, or hangar space. At the very least express your interest in a tie down when you arrive.

Unfortunately, in the US, to my knowledge, there is no specification as to tiedown numbers and availability at airports for transient aircraft.

Of course the problem is not just weather, but includes other aircraft. I have been in a C-208 while a CH-47 parked adjacently, starts up. It was an uncomfortable few minutes of getting bounced and buffeted.

  • $\begingroup$ "on most planes one does not want to leave the parking brake set (especially in rising temperatures)." <-- Interesting. Could you link to some descriptors of why this is bad practice? $\endgroup$ Jul 2, 2023 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ The issue is that most single and light twin aircraft have hydraulic systems which do not have expansion capability. So as the hydraulic fluid heats while on a warmer ramp, it expands. The undesirable symptom is that the seals, usually on the caliper blow. For example on light Cessnas, the hand brake control locks a position. So the brake system, with the parking brake set, is constant volume, rather than constant pressure. $\endgroup$
    – mongo
    Jul 3, 2023 at 22:13

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