December 22, 2006
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RELAX! Have you ever noticed how little effort it seems to take when a skilled pilot maneuvers an aircraft? Climbs and descents seem to occur with no visible physical effort-suddenly you're level at a different altitude. Turns are smooth and skid-free, with no major manipulations of the controls visible. Observing this kind of pilot reveals a serene figure whose relaxed posture is both inspiring and reassuring.
Teaching yourself to relax while flying is more than just psychologically comforting-it makes you fly better. Smooth, well-coordinated control inputs are impossible if you are tensely clutching the control wheel or preoccupied with a fixation on an instrument to avoid busting an altitude or heading. Your instructor should be on the lookout for signs that tension is keeping you from flying your best. "When we first start instructing it's important we learn to look for nonverbal cues as well as listen to the verbal ones. Frustration, fear, misunderstanding, and a host of inner thoughts can be read in facial expressions and body language. A student doesn't have to say, 'Hey, I'm a little apprehensive here,' if he seems tense and has a death grip on the controls," wrote Budd Davisson in the October 2006 AOPA Flight Training Instructor Report column.
Often, all it takes is being reminded to relax to break the "death-grip" habit. If the tendency to clutch tightly remains strong, try this trick: Hold a pencil between your fingers in the hand that is gripping the yoke. "Most instructors solve the death-grip problem correctly: They make students let go of the yoke periodically to ensure that the airplane is in trim. If I had a dollar for every time that I've told a student to let go of the yoke, I'd be a millionaire," wrote Ralph Butcher in his aptly titled November 2004 AOPA Flight Training commentary "Insights: Airplane Strangulation."
Even a student pilot who is normally relaxed and happy in the cockpit may become prone to tension or fixation (read about it in the November 19, 2004, Training Tips) when fatigue sets in. So if you are not flying your best after a long day at the office or under the pressure of an approaching checkride, relax, take a deep breath-and release that iron grip on the aircraft!
It's almost time to celebrate a brand-new year. Is a checkride in the forecast for 2007? See AOPA Flight Training Online for the best information on how to prepare for that important day. If you have additional questions about your practical test, call the experienced pilots in AOPA's Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern.
As an AOPA Flight Training member, you have access to all of the features within AOPA Online and AOPA Flight Training Online. Login information is available online.
CESSNA ORDERS SIMULATORS, TRAINING KIOSKS Cessna Aircraft Company has awarded a contract to Fidelity Flight Simulation Inc. in which the company will provide flight simulators and Garmin G1000 kiosk trainers at Cessna's training facility in Independence, Kansas. The agreement includes nine training devices, from type-specific simulation devices for the Cessna 182 to patent-pending portable training stations for the Garmin G1000 avionics system. Most simulators will feature the Garmin GFC 700 automatic flight control and flight director system, including support of Wide Area Augmentation System approaches. The G1000 avionics suite with the integrated GFC 700 autopilot is standard equipment on all 2007 Skylane and Stationair models. Fidelity Flight Simulation is headquartered in Pittsburgh. For more information, see the Web site.
INSTRUCTIONAL FLYING REMAINS SAFE, 'NALL REPORT' FINDS Instructional flying remains a relatively safe segment of aviation, accounting for just 13.2 percent of all aviation accidents in 2005, according to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's 2006 Joseph T. Nall Report . Flight instructing, which accounts for one out of every five flight hours (18.4 percent of all flying), represented just 6.5 percent of fatal accidents in 2005. This is due in part to the high level of supervision and structure in the training environment, the report said. Pilots flew 23,167,712 hours in 2005, resulting in a total accident rate of 7.2 per 100,000 hours. This represents an increase over the 2004 accident rate of 6.5 per 100,000 hours. The rate for fatal accidents also increased slightly to 1.4 per 100,000 hours, compared to 1.3 per 100,000 hours in 2004. The report noted a sharp rise in the number of fatal maneuvering accidents in 2005. Half of these accidents involved wire strikes or impacts with trees, terrain, or obstacles. "In many cases, the issue wasn't lack of skill; it was the pilot's decision to fly close to the ground or perhaps to maneuver aggressively," the report said.
EVELYN JOHNSON TO BE INDUCTED INTO AVIATION HALL OF FAME Evelyn Bryan Johnson, known as "Mama Bird" to thousands of pilots in Tennessee, will be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame on July 21, 2007. Johnson, 97, has logged more than 57,620 hours of flight time, more than any living person and more than any woman in the history of aviation. She was a flight instructor and FAA designated examiner until 2005, and remained as manager of the Morristown (Tennessee) Municipal Airport until suffering severe injuries in a car accident in September. She is still recovering from that accident. Fellow Tennessean and FedEx founder Frederick W. Smith of Memphis also will be enshrined during a formal ceremony at the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio.
ICE ISN'T NICE: TAKE THE SAFETY QUIZ As temperatures and freezing levels drop, your chances of encountering icing conditions increase. Thaw out your aircraft icing knowledge with this week's Safety Quiz. The quiz covers where you're most likely to encounter icing, and how to avoid icing conditions; what part of the aircraft is most likely to accumulate ice first; and tips to recognize icing and make a safe approach and landing. Each Safety Quiz offers a quick, easy, and interactive way to assess and expand your knowledge. Plus, you can earn a chance to win a Sporty's Air-Scan V Aviation Radio/Scanner. Take the quiz.
HAVE YOU UPDATED YOUR AOPA MEMBER PROFILE? To make the most of your membership and allow us to serve you better, please visit AOPA Online and update your personal member profile.
AIRCRAFT SPRUCE AND SPECIALTY LOGBOOK COVERS If your logbook rides around in your flight bag, in your car, or elsewhere, there's always the possibility that it could get damaged. Aircraft Spruce and Specialty has introduced a line of lightweight logbook covers crafted out of nylon. Each includes a holder for two pens or pencils and a Velcro pocket that can hold gas receipts, licenses, or other papers. The covers come in two sizes and three colors. Prices are $21.50 (medium) and $23.95 (large). Order from the Web site.
Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.
Question: I'm having a difficult time properly executing crosswind landings. Can you provide me with some suggestions on making better landings?
Answer: It takes two particular maneuvers-crab and side slip-to properly fly a successful crosswind landing. The crab is used to correct for wind drift so the airplane will track along the extended runway centerline once you are established on the final approach leg. On short final, you'll want to add the proper amount of rudder to keep the airplane's longitudinal axis parallel with the runway centerline while simultaneously applying aileron to lower the upwind wing in order to correct for drift and maintain alignment with the runway centerline. Once you transition into the flare, you may need to make small control adjustments to maintain these proper alignments. The proper combination of rudder and aileron is necessary to avoid subjecting the airplane to any side loads on the landing gear that could cause structural damage. Crosswind landings can be more of an art than a science, and practice can produce perfect crosswind landings, but only if you seek out the challenge next time the wind blows. For additional insight, review AOPA's Pilot Information Center subject report, "Windy Operations."
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail to email@example.com or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don't forget the online archive of "Final Exam" questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.
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FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR REFRESHER CLINICS The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are also scheduled in Long Beach, CA; Portland, OR; and San Antonio, January 6 and 7. Clinics are also scheduled in San Jose, CA; Detroit; and Rochester, NY, January 13 and 14. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online. Can't make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.
AOPA AIR SAFETY FOUNDATION SAFETY SEMINARS AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars are scheduled in Van Nuys, CA, and Reno, NV, January 8; Sacramento, CA, January 9; Milpitas, CA, January 10; and San Diego, and Santa Rosa, CA, January 11. The topic is "Say it Right! Radio Comm in Today's Airspace." For details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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