January 27, 2006
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SOLO LIMITATIONS You soloed-congratulations! The happy day arrived with the right combination of your sharp flying, favorable weather, and traffic conditions at the airport. After more solo sessions supervised by your instructor, it may be possible for you to head to the airport and take out the trainer on your own. To make that a safe and satisfying experience, your instructor should define in your logbook the conditions under which your approval to fly solo is in force. Doing so is in keeping with the solo requirements for student pilot provisions of the Federal Aviation Regulations. One of the limitations in the regulation prohibits solo flight "in a manner contrary to any limitations placed in the pilot's logbook by an authorized instructor." Weather conditions-wind, ceilings, and visibility-are common limitations. But there could be others. Your instructor might require you to activate a VFR flight plan on every solo, or that you solo in a particular trainer in your school's fleet. You could be limited to paved runways if your airport has paved and sod or grass runways. Crosswind conditions may create a situation where the total wind is within your limits but the crosswind component isn't: A 10-knot breeze down the runway is far less of a concern than a 10-kt crosswind. On that subject, there's no such thing as too much crosswind practice, either before you solo or at any time during your flying career. Review techniques, and follow a link to a calculator for determining the crosswind component on your runway, in the March 7, 2003, Training Tips. Remember that in a strong wind, taxiing with the correct control deflections will keep you upright; ignoring proper technique causes trouble. "Aircraft are most vulnerable when taxiing downwind, but no matter which direction the aircraft is taxiing with respect to the wind, flight controls must be positioned to reduce the wind effects," AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg wrote in his July 1999 AOPA Flight Training column "Learn Your Limitations." Solo flying is a joy and a milestone, and it is a serious responsibility. Be sure to adhere to any solo limitations scrupulously.
RAMP CHECKS: DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO? An increasing number of AOPA members have called the Pilot Information Center to report that they have been "ramp checked," or stopped by an FAA inspector. He may decide to check you and your aircraft because he's observed something unsafe, or it may simply be a random check. You can expect the inspector to show you his identification and ask to see your pilot and medical certificates. "Nobody likes being ramp checked, but the regulations do allow FAA inspectors to do it at their discretion," said Woody Cahall, AOPA vice president of aviation services. "But a ramp check doesn't have to be particularly painful if you understand the rules and exercise some common sense. " A polite response and a cooperative attitude go a long way toward minimizing any hassles, he noted. See the complete story, including what you are and are not required to do if you're the subject of a ramp check, on AOPA Online. 'DO THE RIGHT THING' AND ATTEND THE FREE SEMINAR The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's newest safety seminar, "Do the Right Thing-Decision Making for Pilots" is getting rave reviews for taking a fresh approach to an old topic. "I thought more about decision making in a single night than I have in all my years of flying," said one pilot. "The scenarios kept me on the edge of my seat. Watching those guys back themselves into a corner really made me stop and think about the times I've gotten away with some pretty bad choices," said another. The seminar takes direct aim at poor pilot judgment, the root cause of many-if not most-general aviation accidents. The lively two-hour seminar reveals no-nonsense strategies for breaking the accident chain early. Then, using compelling interactive DVD scenarios, you'll get an opportunity to practice your skills by making choices. The seminar continues through May. Check the schedule to see when it's coming to your area. 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.
SPORTY'S FLIGHT TIMER OFFERS FEATURES FOR VFR, IFR PILOTS Do you have the time? Sporty's Deluxe Flight Timer offers a range of features designed for use by VFR and instrument-rated pilots alike. These include an easy-to-read screen with large numbers, wide buttons that are easy to press, and a backlit function for night flying. Two independent timers count up or down, and each has an alarm with flashing red light-emitting diodes to announce the timer's expiration so that you don't have to rely on a sound alarm in a noisy cockpit. The timer includes a holder with a swivel clip for attaching it to a kneeboard. It runs on two AAA batteries, which are not included, and sells for $24.95. Order online or call 800/SPORTYS. 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.
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