August 17, 2007
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I n this issue: New England Ninety-Nines scholarships Phoenix East Aviation adds airline dispatcher course Pinch-Hitter a great tool for cockpit companions
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THE MEANING OF 'MARGINAL' What does the term "marginal VFR" really mean? How should a noninstrument-rated pilot respond to seeing "MVFR" in a weather forecast or pilot report?
One definition of MVFR is the terse one given in the discussion of outlook briefings in Chapter 7 of the Aeronautical Information Manual: "MVFR (Marginal VFR). Ceiling 1,000 to 3,000 feet and/or visibility 3 to 5 miles inclusive."
Here's a narrative definition rendered by an instrument-rated pilot in an AOPA Aviation Forum. "Monday I flew IFR in 3 to 5 miles visibility in haze. Started during daylight, ended after sunset. No way was this suitable for VFR flight. It was soup. I could see down to the ground, but not very clearly. Around me was nothing. Not once did I see traffic ATC pointed out. No horizon, no visual references, just nothing. I kept thinking the plane was in a slow left turn and had to check the instruments to be sure I was straight and level."
An MVFR memoir from "Never Again" in the November 2006 AOPA Pilot tells how a VFR-only pilot encountered lowering clouds and precipitation in the mountains, missing the early clues about what lay in store. He wrote, "Although my flight training taught me how dynamic weather can be, that wisdom did not sink in until this flight."
Thomas Horne's remedy for that kind of problem is found in his June 2002 AOPA Pilot article "Weather Savvy: Facing down the clouds," in which he urged all pilot trainees to taste nasty weather safely in an instructor's care. "That goes for students working on their private certificates, as well as instrument-rating candidates. This way pilots get the chance to see what lousy weather looks like, and learn how to carry out the procedures needed to bring a flight through to a safe conclusion," he wrote. Then make viewing the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Weather Wise: Ceiling and Visibility online course part of your MVFR curriculum.
Your instructor should note weather limitations for solo flying in your logbook that prevent flirtations with forecasted marginal conditions. (Remember also that student pilots and sport pilots are prohibited from flying when visual reference to the surface is not possible.)
Bottom line: Don't underestimate the red-flag implications of the word "marginal" in a forecast prophesizing VFR weather.
So what kind of gear do you really need to learn to fly? Check out "Getting the Gear You Need" for the best tips on stocking your student-pilot flight bag. You'll learn how to find what you need at the right price. And don't forget, our Pilot Information Center specialists at 800/USA-AOPA are available to give you advice as well, every weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 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.
NEW ENGLAND NINETY-NINES ANNOUNCES SCHOLARSHIPS The Eastern New England Chapter of The Ninety-Nines is offering four scholarships in 2008 for individuals pursuing careers in aviation or seeking additional ratings. The Marie Lepore Memorial Scholarship and the Karla Carroll Memorial Scholarship are open to men and women and are for $1,000 each. The $1,000 William Bridge Scholarship is open to women with at least a private pilot certificate. The chapter also offers a $1,000 scholarship in memory of New Hampshire pilot Shirley Mahn. All scholarships require a New England connection such as residency or college work. Applications will be available at the beginning of October and must be postmarked no later than January 31, 2007. For criteria and applications, send a stamped, self-addressed business-size envelope to Olga Mitchell, 10 Glory Lane, East Falmouth, MA 02536, or e-mail.
PHOENIX EAST AVIATION ADDS AIRLINE DISPATCHER COURSE Phoenix East Aviation, Inc., Daytona Beach, Fla., now offers a six-week airline dispatcher training course in addition to other professional aviation courses and programs. Participants are trained in meteorology, the federal aviation regulations, aircraft systems and performance, global navigation systems, communications, navigation, air traffic control, practical dispatching, flight planning, and all other training required for FAA certification. Housing and transportation is available. For more information, see the Web site.
PINCH-HITTER A GREAT TOOL FOR COCKPIT COMPANIONS As you progress through your flight training, you look forward to the day when you can take a friend, a spouse, or a family member aloft with you. But that person may not share your enthusiasm for flight; he or she may be fearful or anxious and may flatly reject the idea of going up with you. What to do? The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Pinch-Hitter online course is great for helping nervous cockpit companions feel better about flying. It's free, and it answers all kinds of questions your companion may have, including how to use the flight controls, cockpit instrumentation, navigation, and basic emergency procedures.
THE CARDINAL GOES CRUISING We just finished a series of long cross-country flights in the 1977 Cessna Cardinal we're refurbishing for this year's AOPA sweepstakes, and we have a truckload of data we've taken on the newly installed overhauled engine. Take a look at the latest behind-the-scenes information on how the airplane is running, and gain insight on what to expect when you break in a new engine in this week's update.
PROJECT PILOT HELPS STUDENT PURSUE DREAM Student pilot Brittney Johnson is on her way to fulfilling her dream of becoming a corporate pilot. The 16-year-old is a cadet at the Commemorative Air Force Southern California Wing in Camarillo. Her AOPA Project Pilot mentor, Ceci Stratford, volunteers there and was able to cheer her on, amongst family, friends, and her flight instructor Roger Vecchio, during her first solo in July. If you're a student pilot looking for a mentor to help you fulfill your desire to fly, join AOPA Project Pilot to connect with other aviators ready to share their flight experience with you.
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 IFR FLIGHT GEAR BAG NOT JUST FOR INSTRUMENT PILOTS Is your flight bag getting beat up? Is it time to upgrade or just treat yourself to a new one? If that time has come, check out the IFR Flight Gear Bag from Sporty's. It's a leather version of a popular bag in Sporty's line, with dedicated pockets for charts, a transceiver, a flashlight, a fuel tester, or a water bottle. There's an organizer section that has room for pens, a cell phone, a pilot certificate, and keys. The padded interior is divided into three sections. The bag measures 16 inches in length by 9 inches in width and is 9 inches high. It comes in black and sells for $119. For more information or to order, see 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 just started working on my cross-country flight requirements, and I am noticing the difference in airports and their signs and markings. What resources are available to help me learn more about airport signage?
Answer: The Aeronautical Information Manual outlines some of the basic airport signage and markings that are commonly used at most airports. There is also a more detailed listing of information in two FAA advisory circulars: Standards for Airport Markings and Standards for Airport Sign Systems. Finally, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation has developed runway safety flash cards as a handy learning aid. Additional information on this important subject is discussed in the AOPA Flight Training article "Signs and Signals."
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.
A CFII and a student prepping for the instrument checkride discover why it's best to check for obvious problems when they encounter control difficulties just after takeoff in instrument conditions. Read the outcome in the latest installment of "Never Again Online."
UPCOMING FLYING DESTINATIONS: Bellefontaine, OH. Bellefontaine AirFest 2007 and Pancake Breakfast takes place August 18 and 19 at Bellefontaine Regional (EDJ). Contact Galen Harris, 937/599-4275, or visit the Web site.
Mexico, MO. The Elks Club Military Appreciation Airshow takes place August 18 at Mexico Memorial (MYJ). Contact Steve Hagan, 573/581-0125.
Camarillo, CA. The EAA Chapter 723 Camarillo Airshow takes place August 18 and 19 at Camarillo (CMA). Contact Larry Beckett, 805/646-7053, or visit the Web site.
McMinnville, OR. The McMinnville Antique Aircraft Fly-In takes place August 17 through 19 at McMinnville Municipal (MMV). Contact Frank Wallace, 503/341-9409, or visit the Web site.
Lumberton, NJ. The Ninth Annual Kathy Jaffe Challenge takes place August 24 through 26 at Flying W (N14). Contact Ron Chadwick, 732/671-6089, or visit the Web site.
Indianapolis, IN. The Indianapolis Airshow takes place August 25 and 26 at Mount Comfort (MQJ). Contact Pat Robertson, 317/335-3371.
Kansas City, MO. The Kansas City Aviation Expo and Airshow take place August 25 and 26 at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown (MKC). Contact Ed Noyallis, 816/289-7218, or visit the Web site.
South Lake Tahoe, CA. The Eighteenth Annual Lake in the Sky Airshow takes place August 25 at Lake Tahoe (TVL). Contact Krista Eissinger, 530/541-0480, or visit the Web site.
Eugene, OR. The Norwest Fly-Fest 2007 General Aviation Expo and Airshow takes place August 25 and 26 at Mahlon Sweet Field (EUG). Contact Phil Groshong, 541/682-5063, or visit the Web site.
To submit an event to the calendar or to search all events visit AOPA Online. For airport details, including FBO fuel prices, see AOPA's Airport Directory Online.
FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR REFRESHER CLINICS The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Sacramento, CA; and Colorado Springs, CO, September 8 and 9. Clinics are also scheduled in Phoenix; Baltimore; and Seattle, September 15 and 16. 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 Atlanta, Morristown, NJ; King of Prussia, PA; and Germantown, TN, September 10; East Windsor, CT; Bethlehem, PA; and Nashville, TN, September 11; Billerica, MA; and New Cumberland, PA, September 12; and Manchester, NH; Pittsburgh; and Alcoa, TN, September 13. The topic is "Regulations: What every pilot should know." For details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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