December 11, 2009
The following stories from the December 11, 2009, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online.
Looking for a Christmas gift for a woman who loves flying? This Day in Women’s Aviation, a page-a-day calendar published by Powder Puff Pilot, marks the accomplishments made by women in aviation. Entries span three centuries—from balloonists of the early 1800s to the astronauts and military heroines of today. Read more >>
The FAA has issued a new airworthiness directive (AD), AD 2009-25-01, which supersedes a previous AD (AD 91-18-19) that requires a one-time inspection for an incorrect washer installed in pilot and copilot shoulder harnesses in certain Hawker Beechcraft airplanes. The AD, effective Jan. 8, expands the previous directive to include A36TC and B36TC Bonanzas. The original AD affected close to 4,800 airplanes in the United States, and the two additional models represent approximately 560 more aircraft. Operators must check for an incorrect washer and replace it with the correct washer.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China has awarded a type certificate for the composite-construction Hawker 4000 super-midsize business jet. Deliveries into China are scheduled to begin early next year. Read more >>
The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive (AD) to inspect wing skins and engine mount beam support straps of certain Twin Commander aircraft for signs of corrosion. Owners and operators of Twin Commander aircraft models 690, 690A, and 690B must inspect between the surface of the left-hand and right-hand upper wing skins and the engine mount beam support straps for any signs of corrosion, replace the upper steel straps with parts of improved design, and modify both wings. Corrosion could result in failure of the engine mount beam support straps and lead to loss of the engine and possible loss of control of the airplane. The AD becomes effective Jan. 8.
As the days of fewest sunlight hours descend, scheduling training flights that conveniently address your night-flying requirements makes good sense. You can add a real-world variable to this flying by setting up flights that begin in daylight and end in darkness—or vice versa, for the early risers out there.
There’s a lot to think about when planning a night flight that really delivers the goods from a training standpoint. Pick airports that let you make use of runways with sophisticated lighting systems and glidepath guidance such as visual approach slope indicators (VASIs) described in Chapter 2 of the Aeronautical Information Manual . Some visual effects and illusions of night flying may be aggravated when the only sight cues available to a pilot landing on a runway are edge lights. Runway centerline lighting helps alleviate such effects when landing in a crosswind or to avoid trouble judging height above the runway during roundout. Avoid “black holes,” as identified by Julie K. Boatman in the March 2004 AOPA Pilot feature on the subject.
Heading out to a nontowered airport for practice landings and takeoffs? Be sure you know how to operate pilot-controlled lighting. Radio-activated lighting systems are one more good reason to have a second communications radio aboard. Such flight-planning considerations were discussed in the April 28, 2006, “ Training Tip: Nights and lights.”
Winds generally diminish at night, but not always. Fronts with their changing wind speeds and direction move in and out at any time of day or night. Nights may be prone to low-level wind shear associated with temperature inversions. Check your knowledge of night weather concerns against the information sources provided in the Dec. 19, 2008, “ Training Tip: Night-flying weather.”
Always use night fuel reserves as your benchmark when planning a flight that might find you airborne during darkness. Check times of availability for fuel at cross-country destinations, and look up whether a control tower shuts down at night, resulting in changes in communications procedures or even airspace class.
This month the AOPA Air Safety Foundation is shining a Safety Spotlight on VFR night flight. Check your planning against this comprehensive guide before heading out into that early sunset.
If you want to keep your mobile phone handy but not stowed in a pocket, the Thiphone is a device that uses an elastic strap to keep your mobile device on your thigh, much like a kneeboard. Designed to hold an iPhone, iPod, or any mobile device in place with a suction cup, the Thiphone holds your device at an angle tilted toward your face. It sells for $24.95 and is available online from PilotMall.com.
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 recently earned my private pilot certificate and would like to take my wife flying. While she has no problem flying on airliners, she is reluctant to go flying with me in a general aviation airplane. What resources does AOPA have to help me convince her that GA is safe and enjoyable?
Answer: AOPA has a number of articles and suggestions for introducing your reluctant friends and family to the joy of GA. Highlighting the safety aspects of the aircraft you will be flying could ease some passengers’ fears. However, others may fear the physical act of flying regardless of safety statistics. Check out some of the articles in AOPA’s subject report on overcoming the fear of flying. Then, consider working through the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Pinch Hitter online course with your wife. The course is designed to help the nonpilot feel more comfortable in the cockpit by explaining some of the basics of flight.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail 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.
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.