February 2, 2007
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MAX-PERFORMANCE PREFLIGHT Since your first flight lesson, you have been performing preflight inspections of your training aircraft. It's a familiar, satisfying prelude to flying. Usually everything checks out fine and the word is "go." Occasionally you detect a problem-a flat or worn tire, leaking or contaminated fuel, brake fluid pooled on the ground or dripping from the main gear. Glitches crop up just often enough to remind us never to take preflights for granted. Otherwise, it's easy to fall into the trap of preflighting without paying attention, or not really knowing what to look out for.
Sound familiar? "Many student pilots go through a preflight ritual but have no idea why they do some things. It's just something their instructor told them to do. If you find yourself going through the motions without knowing why, it's time to ask an instructor or even a mechanic what the purpose of the action is all about," Peter A. Bedell advised in "A Prelude to Takeoff" in the May 2000 AOPA Pilot.
Thorough preflighting-whether of a familiar or unfamiliar aircraft-can head off more than just mechanical problems. Cowl plugs start appearing when cold weather assaults airports, so don't forget to remove them before flight. A previous pilot may have left the baggage door unsecured-you'd be surprised how often this goes unchecked. Is the oil door open or the dipstick untightened? It happens-good reasons to apply sterile cockpit rules (described in the July 9, 2004, Training Tips) to the serious business of preflighting.
The preflight's complete? Take a last look, as Mark Twombly suggests in his June 2005 AOPA Flight Training commentary "Continuing Ed: Beyond Kicking the Tires." "A last look is just what it says. After finishing the standard preflight inspection and loading the airplane, step back, take a deep breath, and change your focus to allow for a big-picture view of the airplane. It's amazing what conscientious pilots have forgotten in the rush to get going, even though they've done a preflight-chocks snugging up against a main landing gear tire; a pitot tube cover still in place with a long, hanging streamer; and even a tow bar attached to the nosewheel. A good last look will save you from joining that hapless club."
It's a beautiful day to go flying. You've preflighted the aircraft, but what about the pilot? A lingering head or chest cold, fatigue, stress (at home or at work)-any or all of these factors could mean you're not in the best shape to fly. Use the FAA's I'M SAFE checklist each time you prepare to go aloft. (Read more about this checklist on AOPA Online.) For more insights on pilot health, see Budd Davisson's July 2005 AOPA Flight Training feature "To Go, or No?" If you have questions, call the Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA weekdays 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.
DANIEL WEBSTER INSTRUCTORS GET ELECTRONIC FLIGHT BAGS Every flight instructor at Daniel Webster College has been issued an HP Compaq laptop as part of a continuing modernization of DWC's flight program. The laptops will be used to access individual computer-based flight schedules and student records, and to document training in real time during a flight lesson. "One of the principal steps in this project is to allow us to further develop and refine computer-based training systems that we are implementing in our aviation program," said Stephen K. Brown, director of flight operations for the Nashua, New Hampshire, college.
CAE OPENS NEW JERSEY TRAINING CENTER CAE, a manufacturer of simulators and provider of integrated training services, has opened a new training center near the Morristown, New Jersey, airport. The six-bay CAE SimuFlite North East Training Center offers training for the Dassault Falcon 7X, Falcon 900EX EASy, Falcon 2000EX EASy, Gulfstream IV, and Sikorsky S-76. In 2004 the Canadian company was tapped to provide training for pilots, maintenance personnel, and cabin crew for the Falcon 7X. A CAE-built Falcon 7X full-flight simulator for the fly-by-wire business jet has been installed at the North East center and is undergoing acceptance testing and certification. Client training is set to begin in April.
CLEAN AS A WHISTLE: COMPANY OFFERS DETAILING CERTIFICATION Jet Stream Aviation Products recently announced a three-day certification program for those who are interested in acquiring knowledge in the safe and proper procedures for detailing jet aircraft. The Jet Stream Aviation University promises to teach its students the art of professional aircraft detailing. Jet Stream Aviation Products, based at Love Field airport in Dallas, Texas, manufactures a line of aircraft cleaning, detailing, and polishing products.
AOPA TELLS REPORTERS WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN USER FEES The Bush administration won't have a chance to obscure the issue of aviation user fees in the president's upcoming budget submission to Congress. That's because AOPA took a preemptive strike, briefing key reporters in the nation's capital about how to find the secrets in the budget when it is made public on February 5. AOPA President Phil Boyer wrote about how user fees would impact flight training in his "President's Position" column in the February 2007 issue of AOPA Flight Training. "The administration is manufacturing an FAA 'funding crisis' in a smoke-and-mirrors attempt to divert attention away from the real issue-the need to address the problems that constrain capacity, efficiency, and new technology adoption," Boyer told reporters Thursday at the National Press Club. "They are attempting an end-around of Congress to put the world's safest, most efficient, and largest air traffic control system into the hands of airline barons who've flown their own businesses into bankruptcy." See AOPA Online.
COLD HARD FACTS ON WING CONTAMINATION If you're learning to fly in colder parts of the country, you've probably learned that an essential part of preflight is to clean the wings of snow, frost, or ice. During the last 10 years, there have been more than 30 accidents that occurred on takeoff because the airplane's wings were contaminated. As a result of these accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board mailed all pilots an alert letter urging them to look at and feel the aircraft's wings during preflight to ensure no ice is present. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Cold Facts: Wing Contamination Safety Brief offers suggestions for simple preflight steps that can easily prevent these kinds of accidents.
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FLYAGOGO.NET TEAMS UP WITH FREEPILOTLOG.COM Flyagogo.net, a free flight-planning Web site, has partnered with Freepilotlog.com to offer a free online logbook for users. The logbook site integrates with the online flight planning site so that you can easily get current information about other airports, graphically display flight plans, and more. Users can log in using their flyagogo.net accounts without having to create separate accounts.
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 am preparing for my solo long cross-country flight and have noticed my planned route will take me directly through a military operations area. Am I allowed, as a student pilot, to fly through this area?
Answer: You are legally allowed to fly through a military operations area (MOA) without an ATC clearance. Because of the unique military activities performed in these areas, extreme caution should be exercised if the MOA is active. The chart covering your flight will have a listing of MOAs outlining their hours of operation. Before entering a MOA, consider contacting flight service for advisories on the frequency listed on the chart or listed in the FAA's Airport/Facility Directory appropriate for that area. Additional information on MOAs can be found in the Aeronautical Information Manual and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's online course, Mission: Possible-Navigating Today's Special Use Airspace.
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 scheduled in Sacramento, CA, Louisville, KY, and Ashburn, VA, February 10 and 11. Clinics are also scheduled in Melbourne, FL, Baton Rouge, LA, and Dallas, February 17 and 18. 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 Little Rock, AR, Ocala, FL, and Atlanta, February 5; Fayetteville, AR, Northglenn, CO, Tampa, FL, and Maryville, TN, February 6; Colorado Springs, CO, Melbourne, FL, Oklahoma City, and Nashville, TN, February 7; and Lake Worth, FL, Wichita, KS, and Germantown, TN, February 8. The topic is "Say It Right! Radio Communications in Today's Airspace." For details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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