February 29, 2008
In this issue: ERAU wins Safecon regional flying competition Robinson hopes R44s will play greater training role Safety seminar achieves record attendance
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WHAT'S THE CEILING? When it comes time for you to fly solo, your instructor will note limiting weather conditions for your flights in your logbook. One limit likely will be the lowest ceiling under which you are permitted to solo. Another may be a minimum visibility value. [See the Jan. 27, 2006, Training Tip "Solo Limitations."]
Not all cloud cover represents a ceiling. It depends on how much of the sky is visible. The definitions used to describe sky cover carry inferences as to whether a ceiling exists. "A ceiling, for aviation purposes, is the lowest layer of clouds reported as being broken or overcast, or the vertical visibility into an obscuration like fog or haze. Clouds are reported as broken when five-eighths to seven-eighths of the sky is covered with clouds. Overcast means the entire sky is covered with clouds," explains chapter 10, page 17 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge .
You'll find current sky conditions in aviation routine weather reports (METARs) and many automated observations. Sky cover reported as less than broken (few clouds, or scattered layers) does not constitute a ceiling. See the table of contractions on chapter 11, page 6 of the handbook for sky cover, represented in eighths (octas) of the sky from horizon to horizon, for each description.
Why octas? "Students frequently ask why sky cover and obscurations are reported in octas rather than tenths. The four cardinal points of the compass (N, E, W, S) and the four intercardinal points (NE, NW, SE, SW) divide the compass into eight sectors. Cloud cover and obscurations are easy to evaluate if you observe the conditions that exist in each of the eight sectors and base your report on how many sectors that condition occupies," Ralph Butcher explains in the August 2002 AOPA Flight Training column "Insights." Sky cover is also an element in pilot reports (pireps). See "Answers for Pilots" in the February 2006 AOPA Pilot and be sure to scan pireps for those valuable observations that only airborne pilots can provide.
On nonflying days, practice estimating sky cover and comparing your conclusions with aviation weather reports. Also check out the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's online course "Weather Wise: Ceilings and Visibility" to further sharpen your skills.
Is a professional flying job in your future? Read AOPA's Guide to Flying Careers , written for people who envision themselves earning a living as a pilot, and learn about the possibilities. More information about professional training and career development is available in AOPA's Career Pilot section of AOPA Online.
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EMBRY-RIDDLE WINS SAFECON REGIONAL FLYING COMPETITION Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Golden Eagles Flight Team won its twenty-second consecutive regional championship at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Safecon Region II competition. The flying competition, in which teams compete to win points in such events as power-off landing, short-field landing, and message drop, took place Feb. 14 through 17 at Ernest A. Love Field in Prescott, Ariz. Teams from Cypress College, Mount San Antonio College, San Diego Christian College, and San Jose State University joined the competition. Embry-Riddle, San Jose State University, and Mount San Antonio College advanced to the national event, which is scheduled for May 5 through 10 in Smyrna, Tenn.
ROBINSON FOUNDER HOPES R44s WILL PLAY GREATER TRAINING ROLE The founder of Robinson Helicopter Company said Feb. 24 that he would like to see the carbureted R44 Raven I augment and ultimately replace the two-seat R22 in the primary training role. At the 2008 Heli-Expo event in Houston, Texas, Frank Robinson spoke mainly about his company's foray into the turbine helicopter market—a prototype of the R66 has been flying for several months—but also discussed how the company is positioning piston helicopters for future sales. "The R44 Raven I is always going to burn much more fuel than an R22, but it's still a much better training aircraft, with better autorotation characteristics," he said. "This is particularly important among older [student] pilots." For more coverage of Heli-Expo, see AOPA Online.
AIRPORT'S NEW OWNERS TO ADD SPORT PILOT TRAINING Four men who inherited a Massachusetts airport, flight school, and charter business say they hope to expand the operation to include light sport flight training. Ed Ivas, Tom Vigneron, Rick Solan, and John Guarnieri had all worked in some capacity at Walter J. Koladza Airport in Great Barrington before becoming its owners. Longtime owner Walter J. Koladza, who died in 2004, deeded them the operation, and probate was completed in January, according to an article in The Berkshire Eagle . The new owners are expanding the maintenance shop and want to bring light sport training to the area. "We really want to concentrate on student instruction," Solan said, noting that Koladza, who founded the Berkshire Aviation flight school in 1944, considered his tutelage of at least 100 students one of his greatest accomplishments.
SAFETY SEMINAR ACHIEVES RECORD ATTENDANCE Portland, Ore., pilots know a hot ticket when they see one. Last week, 530 pilots attended the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminar, "Top 5 Mistakes Pilots Make"—a new attendance record for the foundation. Is a safety seminar coming to your city? See the Web site for a complete schedule and list of topics, and be sure to take a student pilot or flight instructor when you go.
AOPA'S GET YOUR GLASS ARCHER RESEMBLES LUXURY CAR One of the most noticeable improvements coming to AOPA's Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Archer will be the interior. Forget about seats that are small, uncomfortable, and worn. This new king of glass will feature new seats, as well as handcrafted fine wood accents like the world's best luxury cars. Check out AOPA Online this week to learn how a great interior comes together.
CHECKING ACCOUNT PUTS MONEY IN YOUR POCKET, SUPPORTS AOPA With the AOPA personal checking account from Bank of America, you'll generate contributions to AOPA when you open a new checking account and each time you make a purchase with your AOPA Check Card—at no additional cost to you. You can also get $125 if you open your new account by April 30. Now your everyday banking can help deliver valuable revenue to AOPA to help fight user fees and support AOPA's daily effort to maintain the safety and freedom of flying. Visit the Web site or your neighborhood Bank of America and use offer code WGSAOPA0308.
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.
WANT MORE MACHADO? SIGN UP FOR MONTHLY NEWSLETTER AOPA Flight Training columnist Rod Machado has created a new monthly e-mail newsletter, Flying Smart. "I receive so many requests for aviation information that I've decided that the Internet newsletter might be the very best way to keep my readers up to date on useful aviation safety information," Machado says in the first issue, which is sent free to subscribers. You'll also find links to videos of some of his educational programs, a schedule of upcoming appearances, and a reprint of a recent AOPA Pilot article in which he lays out several reasons why young people should be introduced to flight training. In upcoming issues, he'll be offering educational aviation podcasts, CFI slides for teaching instrument ground school, and more. To view the first issue or sign up, see the Web site.
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Question: Operating in and out of a towered airport requires that an aircraft have two-way radio communication capability. What should I do when I lose all radio communication capability in VFR conditions?
Answer: The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge states that if the radio becomes completely inoperative, it is advisable to remain outside or above the Class D airspace until the direction and flow of traffic is determined and then enter the appropriate traffic pattern and watch the control tower for a steady green light gun signal. In some situations, such as when traffic is heavy or you're uncomfortable using light signals, it might be prudent to divert to a nontowered airport if you can do so safely. For more information, read the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Advisor, Operations at Towered Airports .
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.
After half a century and 600 issues of the best in aviation coverage, AOPA Pilot—the world's largest aviation magazine and sister publication of AOPA Flight Training—celebrates 50 years with two special digital editions. Don't miss this rare opportunity to check out the first issue (March 1958) and thumb through it as if the original were in your hands. Also, see the March 2008 anniversary edition come to life with videos and links throughout the pages. So come along on a very special journey through the magazines, then and now.
UPCOMING FLYING DESTINATIONS: Charlotte, N.C. Jetpool's Future of Business Aviation VLJ Show takes place March 7 and 8 at Wilson Air Center at Charlotte/Douglas International (CLT). See and compare VLJs from many manufacturers and learn at seminars covering "VLJ 101" and specialty topics. For more information, contact Barbara Schick, 704/359-4674, or visit the Web site.
Miami, Fla. The Wings Over Miami Air show takes place March 1 and 2 at Kendall-Tamiami Executive (TMB). For more information, contact Dennis Haber, 305/256-3002, or visit the Web site.
Fargo, N.D. The Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium takes place March 2 through 4 at the Ramada Plaza Suites in Fargo. For more information, contact Darrel Pittman, 701/328-8190, or visit the Web site.
Wheeling, Ill. The Chicago Executive Airport Aviation Career Expo takes place March 8 at Chicago Executive's (PWK) Hangar 10. Visit with aviation industry professionals and the nation's top schools to explore the possibility of a career in aviation. For more information, contact Jamie Abbott, 847/537-2580, 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 in Orlando, Fla., and Baltimore, March 8 and 9. Clinics are also scheduled in San Mateo, Calif., and King of Prussia, Pa., March 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 Rochester, Minn., March 3; Cedar Rapids, Iowa, March 4; Bellevue, Neb., March 5; and Olathe, Kan., March 6. The topic is "Top 5 Mistakes Pilots Make." For details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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