AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Flight Training Edition --Vol. 3, Issue 38

September 19, 2003

Volume 3, Issue 38 • September 19, 2003
In this issue:
ASF program recruits 10,000th SkySpotter
American Yankee type club awards scholarship
AOPA Insurance Agency celebrates 10 years

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Training Tips
INVERSIONS
Stable air-sounds nice, doesn't it? The mere mention hints at a smooth ride, serene conditions, and the exact opposite kind of atmosphere than the one usually associated with such nasty developments as convection and the turbulence or thunderstorms it can bring.

But not always. In extremely stable air, some interesting things can happen. One is a temperature inversion, for which the National Weather Service offers a definition. In an inversion the air, instead of cooling at or less than a standard lapse rate, actually becomes warmer with altitude. Lapse rates and their relationship to airmass stability are discussed by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation in AOPA's A Pilot's Guide to Mountain Flying . "Most pilots know that an inversion-relatively warm air atop colder air-is stable. It's normally the most stable condition. But, an inversion can actually help to create strong thunderstorms," writes meteorologist Jack Williams in " The Weather Never Sleeps," from the June 2000 AOPA Flight Training. "A day that begins with an inversion but also has the other needed thunderstorm ingredients present is somewhat like holding the lid down on a pot of boiling water."

At the other end of the bad-weather spectrum, stable air and an inversion are often implicated in the development of fog. A good example is valley fog forming in moist conditions in cold air that has flowed downslope and become trapped under warmer layers. "Many times valley fog will hang around for days until the winds of a new storm arrive to scour out the valley," Williams explains in the December 2000 issue of AOPA Flight Training.

Wind and temperature aloft forecasts (FD) may be of some help in predicting inversion conditions over broad areas, when they are used in conjunction with other weather products such as area forecasts (FA). However, FDs do not prognosticate temperatures at 3,000 feet above mean sea level or less than 2,500 feet above a reporting station. Click here to review FDs in Chapter 11 of the FAA's Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge ( click here to download).

Like most weather phenomena, there is both good and bad about temperature inversions as explained in these suggested readings. Stay on the ground when the weather pot is boiling under the inversion. Then enjoy the smooth air of a cool morning-an ideal time to fly!
Your Partner in Training
If you are now a private pilot or nearly there, you may be thinking about going straight into training for the instrument rating. The primary advantage is flexibility. If you have an instrument rating, clouds, precipitation, and below-VFR ceilings need not necessarily cancel your trip. This alone is reason enough to pursue the rating. Learn more about eligibility for the instrument rating-and its accompanying requirement for 50 hours of cross-country pilot-in-command experience-on AOPA Online.

Do you have a question? Call our experienced pilots, available weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time toll-free at 800/872-2672. As an AOPA Flight Training Member, you have access to all of the features within AOPA Online. For login information click here.
Flight Training News
ASF PROGRAM RECRUITS 10,000th SKYSPOTTER
A North Carolina private pilot was the 10,000th person to take the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's SkySpotter online course, an interactive program that teaches pilots how to create and file a pilot weather report (pirep). Peter Miranda, who flies out of Concord, North Carolina, received an AOPA watch, a SkySpotter T-shirt, and an autographed copy of Weather Flying by Bob Buck. Miranda has been a private pilot since 1985. He hopes to complete an instrument rating by the end of the year. For more information on SkySpotter and other free ASF online courses, see AOPA Online.

AMERICAN YANKEE TYPE CLUB AWARDS SCHOLARSHIP
Natalie Cohen of Acton, Massachusetts, is the recipient of the 2003 American Yankee Association scholarship, the organization has announced. The $1,500 scholarship is intended to help young people, ages 16 to 21 years, to begin or continue flight training. Guidelines and an application for the 2004 scholarship can be found on the group's Web site.
Inside AOPA
AOPA INSURANCE AGENCY CELEBRATES 10 YEARS OF MEMBER SERVICE
The AOPA Insurance Agency celebrated 10 years of service on September 12 and was recognized for superior service to general aviation pilots. The AOPA Insurance Agency, the largest light aircraft insurance agency in the world, offers policies from A-rated insurance companies so that pilots can find the one that best fits their needs. Earlier this year the AOPA Insurance Agency introduced special membership discounts for owners, renters, and CFIs. You can get more information by calling 800/622-AOPA or visiting the Web site.

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Training Products
AUTOPILOT LEARNING MODULE FROM ELECTRONICFLIGHT SOLUTIONS
Autopilot Systems, a new CD-ROM from ElectronicFlight Solutions' CompleteLearning Avionics Software Library, is designed to educate users about autopilot systems in general and three in particular: the Bendix/King KAP-140 and KFC-225, and S-Tec 55/X. A goal is to instill conceptual knowledge rather than rote memorization, the company says, so that use of the autopilot can become second nature to the pilot. The CD-ROM costs $195. For more information or to order, see the Web site.
Final Exam
Question: Two months ago I got my private pilot certificate. I recently went up at night for the first time alone. At an unfamiliar airport with no moon, and trees below, the VASI was all I had to tell me I was not going to hit the trees. How do I know I can believe it?

Answer: According to Section 2-1-2 of the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual, "the visual glide path of the VASI provides safe obstruction clearance within plus or minus 10 degrees of the extended runway centerline and to 4 nm from the runway threshold. Descent, using the VASI, should not be initiated until the aircraft is visually aligned with the runway. The basic principle of the VASI is that of color differentiation between red and white." When you are aligned with the runway's centerline, the VASI indicates your position relative to the glidepath with one of three light combinations-red over white, which means you're on the glidepath; white over white, which means you're above glidepath; and red over red, which indicates you're below the glidepath. Most VASIs are set for a 3-degree glidepath, but at some airports it may be as high as 4.5 degrees to give proper obstacle clearance.

Got a technical question for AOPA specialists? E-mail to askft@aopa.org or call 800/872-2672. Don't forget the online archive of "Final Exam" questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.
Picture Perfect

The AOPA Online Gallery allows you to download your favorite images to use for wallpaper, send a personalized e-card, and order high-quality prints to be shipped directly to your doorstep. Search the hundreds of fabulous images in our archives and select your favorites today! For more details, see AOPA Online.

What's New At AOPA Online

Learn how the Wright brothers' innovative designs influence your flying today. Get tips on precision touchdowns that will make your CFI cheer. Find out why nighttime approaches hold insidious visual traps for the unsuspecting pilot. The full text of the October 2003 issue of AOPA Flight Training is now available online; select the "View index" option. Click here to access any URL referenced in the issue.

Weekend Weather
See the current weather on AOPA Online, provided by Meteorlogix.
ePilot Calendar
WEEKEND FLYING DESTINATIONS
Nashua, New Hampshire. The 2003 Aviation Heritage Festival takes place September 20 and 21 at Daniel Webster College. The festival will feature a unique blend of vintage airplanes, distinguished guests, seminars, and aviation exhibits. Contact Dan Seufert, 603/577-6625, or visit the Web site.

Dulles, Virginia. The Dulles Plane Pull takes place September 20 at Washington Dulles International (IAD). Charity event and fly-in for the whole family. Contact Ed Levine, 703/450-7569, or visit the Web site.

To submit an event to the calendar, or search all events, visit AOPA Online. For airport details, see AOPA's Airport Directory Online .

ASF FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR REFRESHER CLINICS
(All clinics start at 7:30 a.m.)
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Baltimore, September 26 and 27. Clinics are also scheduled in Ontario, California, and San Jose, California, October 4 and 5. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online. Can't make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Renewal Online.

ASF PINCH-HITTER GROUND-SCHOOL COURSES
(Pinch-Hitter courses start at 9:30 a.m.)
The next Pinch-Hitter® Ground School takes place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, October 26. For more Pinch-Hitter courses, see AOPA Online.

ASF SAFETY SEMINARS
AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars are scheduled in San Antonio, and East Elmhurst, New York, September 22; West Houston, Texas, and Brookhaven, New York, September 23; Fort Worth, Texas, and Poughkeepsie, New York, September 24; and Austin, Texas, and Randolph, New Jersey, September 25. Topics vary, see AOPA Online for complete details.

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