AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 9

November 11, 2009

The following stories from the February 27, 2004, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information customized to their areas of interest by updating their member record file online.

My ePilot - Piston Single Interest
Approaching poorly lit areas while flying VFR at night-also known as the dreaded "black hole approach"-can be challenging for even the most experienced pilots. On March 15, 2002, a 300-hour, noninstrument-rated private pilot and his three passengers were killed when the Cessna 172P they were flying crashed on approach to Ocean City Municipal Airport in Ocean City, Maryland. Read what went wrong in this special report prepared by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, exclusively for ePilot readers.

My ePilot - Own/May Own Interest
Mike Busch knows about the trials and tribulations of aircraft ownership. He has owned three airplanes over the past 35 years, written widely about his ownership experiences, and teaches courses for the Cessna Pilots Association. He is using his wide range of experience to produce and teach weekend seminars for aircraft owners on getting better maintenance for less money. The first course will take place in Memphis, Tennessee, in April. For more information about costs and scheduling, see the Web site.

My ePilot - Experimental Interest
American Autogyro Inc. said its SparrowHawk gyroplane made it first flight on February 25. AAI is a subsidiary of Groen Brothers Aviation. The 25-minute flight was made at the company’s factory in Buckeye, Arizona. There have been several flights since, testing cruise speeds to 70 knots with higher speeds expected. Its range is 230 nautical miles. The $27,400 amateur-built gyroplane was designed for improved stability. The SparrowHawk features a large cabin and uses electronic flight instruments. Seven SparrowHawk kits have been shipped out of 43 now sold. A 148-horsepower Subaru automobile engine powers it.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
Practiced enough crosswind landings? Think again. Sharpening crosswind skills-the subject of this newsletter's Training Tips on December 28, 2001 and again on March 7, 2003-is always beneficial because winds are ever-changing. Your flight instructor will introduce and rigorously drill you on crosswind technique; later, she will specify a maximum crosswind component (in knots) as one limitation for your solo flights.

Only on occasion does the wind blow directly down the runway (when it has no crosswind component) or perpendicular to it (when the crosswind component equals the wind speed). At other times, you must compute crosswind components on your flight computer, a crosswind chart, or an online flight-data calculator.

Suppose a pilot is landing on Runway 33 (magnetic bearing 330 degrees) with reported surface winds of 290 degrees (40 degrees off the runway bearing) at 15 kt. The crosswind component is 10 kt. In other words, on Runway 33 there is as much crosswind with a wind direction/speed of 290/15 as there would be with a direct 10-kt crosswind (the combination 240/10). But note an important difference: The "headwind" component of 290/15 is 12 kt; at 240/10 it is zero. The aircraft's groundspeed when landing is 12 kt lower when the wind is 290/15.

Suppose the wind shifts to 300/16: The crosswind component drops to 8 kt! This illustrates a rule of thumb for estimating crosswind components: "If the wind is 30 degrees off the nose, the crosswind component is half the wind speed. If the wind is 50 degrees off, the crosswind component is roughly 75 percent of the wind speed. For 70 degrees, the crosswind component is about 90 percent of the wind speed," wrote Robert N. Rossier in the December 1997 Flight Training column, "Flying Smart: Crosswind Landings."

Another number to know is the aircraft's "maximum demonstrated crosswind velocity." One manufacturer defines this as "the velocity of the crosswind component of which adequate control of the airplane during takeoff and landing was actually demonstrated during certification tests." Although it is not an operating limitation, it deserves your respect; new pilots and especially students should not try to test it. Find out how to determine this value for some pre-1975 aircraft in the July 2000 AOPA Flight Training article "Charting the Wind," by AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg.

In "Wx Watch: Working the Wind" in the March 2001 AOPA Pilot, Thomas A. Horne exhorts all pilots to stay sharp through practice. Like so many other things in aviation, hard work here will provide benefits beyond measure.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
Looking for a basic, sturdy flight bag? A new entry from Gleim Publications has many amenities of a higher-end tote, such as a zippered end compartment large enough to hold a headset; another that could carry a transceiver or a handheld GPS; interior dividers; and an interior loop to secure a set of keys or a second headset. Adjacent pockets on one side could store folded charts or an Airport/Facility Directory; the other side has a roomy zippered pocket. The bag measures approximately 18 by 6 by 12 inches and comes in black. It sells for $39.95 and may be ordered online. The flight bag replaces the book bag previously included in Gleim pilot kits.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: I've heard the term "category" used to describe both airplanes and pilot ratings, and I'm confused about which is correct. Can you give me a definition of "category"?

Answer: Actually, "category" is correctly used in the context of both aircraft and airmen, though with different meanings for each. When referring to "airmen" certification, category means a broad classification of aircraft-or instance, airplane; rotorcraft; glider; lighter-than-air; or powered lift. A pilot could be certified for "airplane single-engine land," with "airplane" being the category of aircraft. When describing "aircraft certification," category refers to the way aircraft are grouped, based on operating limitations or intended use. For instance, aircraft are certified in these categories: transport, normal, utility, acrobatic, limited, restricted, or provisional.