June 17, 2011
Good flight planning means having an up-to-date library of the necessary information, and the skill to use it. Save time—and avoid cutting corners—by having a general working knowledge of your source material before you go to research questions about your training flights.
What kind of equipment is required for flight into Class C airspace? Would a flight to the nearest airport in Class C airspace help satisfy solo cross-country aeronautical experience requirements for the 150-mile trip needed to count toward time required for your private pilot certificate? What is the floor of the outer “shelf” of airspace shown for that airport? Is it a standard or nonstandard airspace configuration?
You would need to know the answers to all of those questions to be able, let’s say, to explain the proposed flight to your designated pilot examiner. Finding answers would require numerous resources.
The first question is about an operating rule. Find the answer in FAR 91.130(d), which sets forth equipment requirements for operations in Class C airspace. (Save time and avoid flipping through other regulatory parts by remembering that Part 91 of the federal aviation regulations covers general operating and flight rules.)
The second question asks whether a flight to that airport could count toward an airman certification cross-country requirement. First, look in Part 61—specifically to FAR 61.109, which lists aeronautical experience requirements for private pilot applicants. They include “one solo cross country flight of 150 nautical miles total distance, with full-stop landings at three points, and one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing locations.”
That’s part of the answer. Now get out your sectional aeronautical chart, and measure the distances of your proposed flight legs to be sure that the airport at the center of the Class C airspace can be used to complete the trip, considering your other proposed points of landing.
And while you have that chart spread out, check the outer of the two rings that depict the Class C airspace. Note the floor of that outer shelf. They are typically 1,200 feet agl but may differ from the standard configuration to accommodate local conditions.
The Air Safety Institute’s Know Before You Go online course also can help your awareness of airspace considerations.
The first solo can be commemorated with a photo, a cut shirt tail, or a more lasting tribute, such as a solid wood plaque that can be personalized. The plaque measures eight inches by four inches and has a lacquered finish. It sells for $21.99 plus an additional $4 to personalize. Order 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: Why is it important to practice short-field approaches and landings when every airport my flight instructor and I have been to so far has a runway that is at least 5,000 feet long?
Answer: The short answer, no pun intended, is that there might be a time in the future that you either will want to land at an airport that has a short field or might be forced to land at one during an emergency. During your continued training your flight instructor will take you to a variety of airports, some of which will require a good short-field approach technique. This means that you will need to have precise, positive control of the airspeed and descent rate in order to achieve a landing that will clear any obstacles and result in little or no floating while allowing the airplane to stop in the shortest possible distance. This type of maximum performance approach and landing takes practice since you will be operating within a confined area with little room for error. For more on the topic, read “Short-field and soft-field landings” on the Flight Training website.
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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