November 4, 2011
You are flying back to your tower-controlled home airport from a cross-country flight. Before you can establish contact, your com radios quit—and it’s a peak traffic period at the destination. What if there’s a nontowered airport nearby, and you are authorized to land there on practice flights—which airport would you choose?
Suppose you plan a cross-country flight, but on the morning of the trip the weather forecast includes the code FZDZ among conditions that could be encountered. What if the flight service specialist briefing you for your trip informs you that a military operations area (MOA) astride your route will be “hot” all day?
One sure way for a designated pilot examiner or your flight instructor to assess how well you learned lessons about aeronautical subjects is to pose what-if scenarios for you to consider, and then offer a course of action. Working with what-ifs on your own is a great way to move the building blocks of your acquired knowledge around—possibly even finding a way out of being stuck on a difficult question.
What you are mastering during these exercises is correlation, the highest of four levels of learning (rote, understanding, application, correlation). It’s the one that shows that you can apply what you know to real-world flight operations and challenges.
How important is it to achieve that highest level? It’s imperative for safety—not to mention passing muster on your flight test.
“Pilots do not fly by rote alone, and DPEs have marching orders to test to the correlation level of learning as much as possible,” Bob Schmelzer wrote in the October Flight Training feature “Do over: 6 reasons why checkrides go south.”
So, a forecast including freezing drizzle (FZDZ) is a strong no-go indicator. Correlate that information with the big picture by discussing weather patterns where you could expect it.
Flying in an MOA is permitted during periods of activity. It’s your call whether to change your route.
As for the opening scenario: Whether to squawk 7600 and land at that busy towered airport with assistance from light-gun signals or divert is a judgment call that could depend on other factors including surface winds, notices to airmen, ground transportation, and communications. Weigh the what-ifs, and make a good call.
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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: Can I still get a medical if I am unable to pass the color vision test during my visit with the aviation medical examiner (AME)?
Answer: Yes, you can. If you fail to pass the pseudoisochromatic color plate test during your FAA physical examination, the AME may issue your medical certificate with the limitation, “Not valid for night flying or color signal control.” You can opt to have the restriction removed at a later date by taking one of several FAA-approved alternative pseudoisochromatic color plate tests. Your local optometrist or ophthalmologist might have one or more of the alternative tests available. A university with a medical vision program might have the allowed alternative tests as well. Check out AOPA’s Vision—Color Restriction Removal subject report for more information on color vision and flying.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail 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.
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