January 1, 1997
One of AOPA's premier member benefits is the team of dedicated specialists who interact one-on-one with members. AOPA Access is a monthly compilation of commonly asked questions. Any member can reach the specialists by calling 800/USA-AOPA.
AOPA has always offered free or low-cost help to keep your flying fun, safe, and as inexpensive as possible. Until recently, getting AOPA booklets, reading AOPA Pilot, or calling me or the other experienced pilots on the toll-free Pilot Information Center (800/USA-AOPA) were the main avenues.
Now, there's more. Your AOPA membership entitles you to answers in a new way - via AOPA Online both on CompuServe and on the World Wide Web (www.aopa.org).
Most of the questions that we're asked regard ownership, including advice on the mechanics of buying and selling, maintenance, hangaring, and modifications. But what else can your AOPA membership get you online?
Let's take some typical scenarios, based on actual member questions.
Who owns that beautiful airplane you're lusting after? Check the N-number database for the current registered owner. Now that you know who owns it, use the online version of the AOPA booklet Tips on Buying Used Aircraft for ideas on choosing an aircraft, controlling costs of maintenance, arranging a prepurchase inspection, obtaining insurance, acquiring financing, and handling all the paperwork. A value quote is available from Aeroprice on the Web.
Other questions about buying aircraft may be answered by AOPA guides available online, including:
Printed versions of all of these guides are also available for a small shipping and handling charge by calling 800/USA-AOPA. Previous AOPA Pilot articles offering information on specific aircraft and issues are also available electronically. Even personalized advice of AOPA technical experts and opinions of your fellow pilots and aircraft owners are available on your computer screen.
Aviation weather reports, forecasts, and maps are available to cybernauts. AOPA Online connects you to a dazzling array of aviation weather products on both CompuServe and the World Wide Web.
Two sites that members seem to like - Purdue University ( http://wxp.atms.purdue.edu) and the University of Illinois ( www.aviation.uiuc.edu/institute/avilinks/weather/weather.html) - offer free weather graphics usually less than one hour old. Other Web sites, such as American Weather Concepts, offer more recent weather information for a small monthly fee.
Want to talk to AOPA President Phil Boyer? The Pilot Town Meeting schedule is a click away. Dates and places for the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's hands-on GPS courses, Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics, Pinch-Hitter ground schools, and free safety seminars are also available.
Members confirm every day that maintaining proficiency is difficult and expensive. To help, AOPA Online has a large collection of AOPA Pilot "Never Again" columns so that you can learn from the mistakes of others. Preliminary accident reports and NTSB files provide chilling factual details on what went wrong; and in a large collection of Aviation Safety Reporting System Callback newsletters there are summary reports that pilots have submitted to NASA.
Got wanderlust? We offer dozens - perhaps hundreds by the time you read this - of online descriptions of places to fly. Even flights in other countries are easier with advice from your fellow pilot AOPA experts on line. For instance, how do regulations and operations differ in Mexico?
AOPA Online has a list of AOPA Pilot articles that describe interesting places to fly, and AOPA's Airport Directory is fully searchable. Complete AOPA guides to Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, and Alaska are available online (as well as in booklet form) to help you understand the foreign regulations and aviation operations.
Finding answers to your aviation questions just got easier, because AOPA Online's growth provides more and more "topic sheets" designed to summarize answers to common member questions. Subjects include aircraft purchasing, selling, owning, and reviews; logging pilot-in-command time and other FAR interpretations; filing and recording liens; flight training issues; legislation; and even how to locate other sources of information.
On the Web, you can use free "search engines" such as Yahoo!, Excite, Infoseek, Hot Bot, Alta Vista, and Lycos to help you navigate the vastness of the Web. Supply one or more keywords and each of these services can search for Web sites that may contain answers to your questions.
Connecting to the exciting new world of online is as easy as installing software and establishing an account. To sign up for CompuServe, call 800/GO2-AOPA. Various local and national Internet service providers (ISPs) offer unlimited access to the Internet for a modest monthly charge.
As AOPA Online grows, you may find some services on CompuServe but not on the Web, or vice-versa - so consider checking both.
Technical Specialist Jeff Broomall, 27, is one of AOPA's experts serving members through AOPA Online. He is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and holds a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating. Broomall has logged more than 400 hours and is working on his flight instructor certificate.
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