January 26, 2007
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MSL or AGL? The January 19, 2007, Training Tips discussed the hazards of launching on a flight without knowing the minimum altitude that keeps you clear of all obstructions along your route. Charts, notams, and flight publications provide information you need to stay safe, but you must correctly interpret it.
In your first moments of flying as a student pilot, you learned that the altimeter gives altitude information as a value above mean sea level (msl). You also learned that the instrument is accurate only when set to the local barometric pressure. (See the January 2006 AOPA Flight Training column "The Weather Never Sleeps: Understanding the Altimeter.") Msl is not the same as another important elevation value: agl, which stands for "above ground level." For example, if you are flying westbound at 6,500 feet msl, and you overfly a 4,000-foot mountain peak, your altimeter indicates 6,500 feet, but you are only 2,500 feet agl while flying over the mountaintop.
To see a presentation of various types of elevation figures, look at the expanded sectional chart excerpt for the airport and seaplane base in Greenville, Maine, in AOPA's Airport Directory Online. Note the airport elevation: 1,401 feet msl. There's an obstruction south of the airport. Two numbers appear beneath its symbol. The bold 1,732 is the elevation of the top of the obstruction in msl. So, is the obstruction 1,732 feet tall? No. The height of the object above ground level is 207 feet-the number in parentheses. A practiced chart reader will detect another clue. The obstruction's symbol is used for obstructions less than 1,000 feet agl. Also, this is a single obstruction, not a group obstruction. (For explanations, see the Aeronautical Chart User's Guide. )
There is a 2,660-foot-msl mountain peak southeast of the airport. That's a "spot elevation." Other nearby summits are similarly identified. Note also the maximum elevation figure (MEF) depicted just inside the northeast boundary of the Condor 2 MOA (military operations area).
Just as weather reports and forecasts deliver some information as msl values and other items in agl terms, charts showing airspace boundaries, obstructions, and airport data do the same. Learn how to know at a glance whether your safety margins are satisfactory.
A checklist is an important document that you'll use on the first flight lesson and for every flight going forward. People who learned to fly simpler airplanes often could memorize their checklists, but today's sophisticated aircraft have so many additional features and settings that it's no longer a good idea to rely on memory alone. Refer to your checklist as you go through your preflight, and make sure you have actually followed through on each of the items to check. You can customize your checklist to make it more user friendly. Consider reproducing it in a smaller (or larger) size, printing emergency items in bright colors, or adding items to the standard list. Christopher L. Parker gives you more ideas in the September 2005 issue of AOPA Flight Training. If you have questions or concerns, call the Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern.
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ALL-WOMEN'S AIR RACE ANNOUNCES 2007 ROUTE The Air Race Classic, an all-women's transcontinental air race, has announced the schedule and route points for its 2007 event. The race will launch June 19 from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Racing teams will travel to McCook, Nebraska; Denison, Iowa; Jefferson City, Missouri; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Lewisburg, West Virginia; Elmira, New York; Burlington, Vermont; and Bangor, Maine, before finishing up June 22 in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. For more information or to order a race registration kit, see the Web site.
CESSNA PILOT CENTERS IN INDIA? A growing need for pilots in India has prompted Cessna Aircraft to consider opening flight training centers there, according to a report in The Wichita (Kansas) Eagle. A Textron spokeswoman said Cessna is considering the possibility of offering fixed-wing training in conjunction with Bell Helicopters, which is also exploring the potential of establishing a training center there. Although no time frame was given, the report said Cessna also is looking at opening a series of Cessna Pilot Centers, utilizing its existing computer-based flight training system throughout India.
EMBRY-RIDDLE ADDS TO SIMULATOR FLEET Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona, Florida, campus is expanding its fleet of Frasca simulators by adding an additional Cessna 172 flight training device. The level 6 FTD will feature Frasca's TruVision 220 visual display system and Garmin G1000 advanced avionics. Embry-Riddle is also upgrading two existing 172 FTDs to include G1000 avionics. The university has more than 20 Frasca simulators in use at Daytona Beach and the Prescott, Arizona, campus. For more information about Frasca simulators, see the Web site.
FIVE SPORTY'S ACADEMY CFIs EARN MASTER STATUS Five flight instructors from Sporty's Academy in the Cincinnati area have been designated master flight instructors. They are Eric Radtke, president of Sporty's Academy; Ben Roller, chief flight instructor; Paul Jurgens II, vice president; Bret Koebbe, check airman and flight instructor; and Mike Puehler, assistant chief instructor and designated examiner. The Master CFI designation is granted by the National Association of Flight Instructors and is given to flight instructors who have earned national accreditation through continuing education and peer review.
ALLIANCE GRADUATES FIRST FEMALE The first woman to participate in a partnership between Tuskegee University and Kansas State University to encourage diversity in aviation has completed the program. Chrystal Cole-Bridges graduated in December along with 50 other fall graduates from Kansas State at Salina. Under the partnership, launched in 2001, students earn a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from Tuskegee University and a professional pilot degree from Kansas State University. Cole-Bridges is working as a design engineer at Cessna Aircraft in Wichita.
TSA CHIEF SAYS SMALL GA IS NOT A BIG RISK Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley told a Senate committee that, despite their numbers, small general aviation aircraft don't pose a big risk to the transportation network. And he praised the principles of AOPA's Airport Watch as being "remarkably effective at virtually no cost." Hawley was responding to questions by the chairman of the Senate aviation subcommittee, Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who is also chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Rockefeller has had a longstanding concern about the potential vulnerabilities of general aviation to terrorism. "What should they (general aviation) be doing?" Rockefeller asked the TSA. "The basics of securing the aircraft, observing anything out of the ordinary, all those basics are remarkably effective at virtually no cost," said Hawley. Those basics, of course, are the core principles of Airport Watch. See AOPA Online.
NO TOWER? NO PROBLEM During your private pilot training you will fly to airports with control towers and those without, otherwise known as "nontowered airports." The rules and requirements for nontowered fields are quite different from those for airports that operate under air traffic control. It's useful to know what you're going to encounter before you launch. The newly updated Operations at Nontowered Airports Safety Advisor from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation will give you a good overview of what to expect. You'll find pointers on effective communications; a "walk-through" of a full traffic pattern circuit, including radio calls; and more.
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 OFFERS VIDEO DOWNLOADS OF POPULAR PROGRAMS As more people download video content to desktop computers, MP3 players, and other personal viewing devices, you can add Sporty's to your viewing list. Sporty's now offers video downloads for a selection of its educational programs. Currently available are the Richard Collins Air Facts series and three volumes from Sporty's What You Should Know series: Flying the Garmin G1000, Flying the Avidyne Entegra, and Flying the Garmin GPSMAP 396/496. Air Facts videos may be downloaded for $9.95 each; and the What You Should Know videos can be downloaded for $19.95 each. Once you download the programs, they're yours to keep. For more information, 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: My instructor asked me if it is acceptable to fly with expired charts and to find the regulation that discusses this. I've done some research and can't find anything. Can AOPA help me find the answer?
Answer: The term "charts" is not found in the FAA's Part 91 regulations (other than for large and turbine-powered multiengine airplanes in 91.503[a]). The specific FAA regulation, FAR 91.103 "Preflight Actions," states that each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight. What is not specifically addressed in the regulation is a requirement for charts. You should always carry a current chart for safety's sake. An expired chart will not show new frequencies or newly constructed obstructions, some of which could be tall enough to be a hazard along your route of flight. For more information on this topic, review the August 2005 AOPA Flight Training feature "Charting Your Course" and "Database Debate II" from the August 1997 issue of AOPA Pilot.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
To submit an event to the calendar or to search all events visit AOPA Online. For airport details, 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, 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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Getting the job done on the local and national levels requires long-term planning, a hands-on approach, and keeping the effort moving, said Sean Collins, AOPA’s Eastern regional manager.
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