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Copyright © 2004 AOPA.
| Training Tips |
| PATTERN ALTITUDE |
How high above a nontowered airport do you fly when entering its traffic pattern? A thousand feet? Six hundred feet? Some other figure? It's true that many nontowered airports employ a traffic pattern about 1,000 feet above the surface. But when heading off to a new destination, don't assume that this is automatically true. Altitudes for the pattern vary from place to place. Proper pattern procedures (the subject of the April 18, 2003, "Training Tips") include knowing the right altitude to fly.
The elevation of Indiana's Richmond Municipal Airport is 1,140 feet mean sea level. The airport listing in AOPA's Airport Directory reveals that the traffic pattern for all aircraft is 2,000 feet msl. That's 860 feet above ground level, not the "typical" 1,000 feet agl some pilots would select by default. Knowledge and precision are important for safety and collision avoidance; note in the directory entry for the airport that intensive flight training takes place there.
Many airports have more than one traffic pattern altitude, for example assigning different altitudes to turbine aircraft, light aircraft, and helicopters. Know what those other pilots will be doing! Larger, faster aircraft patterns are often 500 feet higher than yours, but here again, verify the specifics. Also, be certain that right traffic is not required when flying the pattern to one or more runways as discussed in the November 4, 2004, "Training Tips."
If a traffic pattern altitude is significantly different from what you are accustomed to, plan to complete your descent before you enter the pattern. This is what other pilots expect you to do, and it is your best practice for collision avoidance. "A background of sky makes it much easier to observe other aircraft. To descend onto the downwind leg compromises flight safety and makes traffic observation difficult if not impossible," observed Ralph Butcher in the June 2001 AOPA Flight Training column "Insights: Departure and Arrival Profiles."
Sometimes just knowing a small morsel of important information is the difference between a pilot who thinks he is safe, and one who really is.
| Your Partner in Training |
|Pilots can never have enough information about the airports to which they fly. Instrument-rated pilots have long known that U.S. terminal procedures-also known as instrument approach charts-are bountiful sources of such information. You don't have to be instrument rated to use them. For example, an airport diagram is part of every approach chart, and for VFR pilots, it is perhaps the chart's most informative component. AOPA's Airport Directory Online contains current airport approach charts, as well as other important airport information available online only to AOPA members-and it's free! |
Do you have a question? Call our experienced pilots-available weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern-toll-free at 800/872-2672. As an AOPA Flight Training Member, you have access to all of the features within AOPA Online and AOPA Flight Training Online. Login information is available online.
| Flight Training News |
| INTELLIGENCE BILL MEANS PHOTOS FOR FUTURE PILOT CERTIFICATES |
If you expect to earn or add a rating to your pilot certificate in the next year, you may be among the first to receive an upgraded certificate, complete with your photo. Compared to the old paper, or even the relatively new plastic, pilot certificates you may have seen, the next generation of certificates could look more like a driver's license. The FAA is required to start issuing improved pilot certificates within a year as part of the huge Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act that Congress sent to President Bush this week. The new certificates must be resistant to tampering and counterfeiting, include a photo of the pilot, and may have the capability to store biometric information. "We worked closely with key members of Congress to make sure that these new requirements don't impose an undue burden on GA pilots," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. Thanks to AOPA's advocacy, the bill allows the FAA to use designees to process the new certificates. That means an aviation medical examiner could take a digital photo of the pilot as part of the exam, and transmit the photo to the FAA along with the medical data. AOPA also successfully lobbied against a requirement that renter pilots be screened against a terrorist watch list. See AOPA Online for the complete story.
CIRRUS BOOSTS AUTHORIZED INSTRUCTOR RANKS
The number of certificated flight instructors across the nation participating in the Cirrus Standardized Instructor Program (CSIP) recently topped 150. Cirrus Design established the program to assure that CFIs around the country know how to provide initial and recurrent training in the advanced SR20 and SR22 models. To qualify, a pilot must hold an instrument instructor rating (CFII) and have logged at least some instruction time. The candidate then reviews a large packet of material from Cirrus, including all of the flight and system manuals. After passing a written test, the candidate travels to Cirrus in Duluth, Minnesota, to take a three-day course from University of North Dakota instructors who developed the course with Cirrus. After completing the course, the CFII must take recurrency training annually or complete a certain number of transition or recurrency flights with students in a Cirrus airplane. For more information on CSIP, see the Cirrus Web site.
HELICOPTER NOISE IS FOCUS OF RESEARCH PROJECT
Three colleges are partnering to research and develop engineering software that will lead to quieter helicopters. The research team includes representatives from Northern Arizona University, Penn State University, and Georgia Tech. Using basic engineering, physics, computers, and software, the team will predict the motion of the air around helicopter blades by capturing the motion of the blade and the disturbances it makes to the air. The computer software will be used to help design the next generation of military and civilian helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. The project is funded by a grant from the Department of Defense.
| Inside AOPA |
DEADLINE NEARS TO COLLECT YOUR 2004 AOPA CREDIT CARD REBATE
You've used your AOPA credit card for all kinds of aviation-related purchases this year. Now it's time to collect your reward. Be sure to submit your 2004 rebate request to MBNA America Bank by December 31. You'll receive a 5-percent credit rebate-up to $250-on aircraft fuel, rentals, training, maintenance, tiedowns, and virtually all other purchases from qualifying FBOs nationwide. Requesting your rebate is easier than ever before. You can submit your request online, by fax to 866/AOPA-FBO (267-2326), or by mail to the following address: FBO Rebate Program, MBNA America Bank, P.O. Box 15063, Wilmington, DE 19850-5063. For more information on the rebate program, or to apply for the credit card, visit AOPA Online.
CHICAGO CLAIMS IT HAD TO DESTROY 'ABANDONED' MEIGS FIELD
The City of Chicago admits to using $2.8 million in airport development funds to tear up Meigs Field and remove any traces of the airport. Here's why: The city's attorneys say that if Chicago hadn't spent the money, it might have had to sue itself for not removing the runway, taxiways, control tower, and other airport infrastructure. This line of reasoning is in a 40-page legal brief responding to a notice of investigation from the FAA regarding the airport closure. AOPA President Phil Boyer called the retort "another insult," adding that AOPA members know the airport wasn't abandoned. "Meigs Field was willfully destroyed by elected officials using public monies that were intended for airport construction, not destruction," he said. AOPA is determining whether the brief calls for a legal response. See the complete story on AOPA Online.
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.
| Training Products |
| PLOTTER IS DESIGNED FOR USE WITH SECTIONAL CHARTS |
MLO Aviator Products offers a new kind of navigational plotter, the MP-1, developed specifically for use with sectional charts. A sectional grid reader on the plotter helps you to find the exact coordinates of a particular location-which you might use with a GPS to identify a waypoint or position. The plotter is made of heavy-duty, flexible Lexan plastic and has a matte finish that allows you to use a pencil on the surface and reduces reflected light at night. It sells for $19.95 ($17.95 for AOPA members). Call 908/813-3309 or see the Web site.
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.
| Final Exam |
| Question: While practicing touch and goes at a nearby airport, I heard the tower controller tell another pilot that she was "cleared for the option." What does that mean? |
Answer: Being "cleared for the option" means that air traffic control (ATC) has given the pilot the option of making a touch-and-go landing, a low approach, a missed approach, a stop and go, or a full-stop landing. This clearance is normally issued for a training flight, giving the instructor latitude to call a last-minute missed approach, touch and go, or other procedure to simulate a possible landing scenario. For more information on ATC communication, see the feature article "Now You're Talking," November 2004 AOPA Flight Training.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail to [email protected] 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.
| Picture Perfect |
|Time is running out to order high-quality prints from the AOPA Online Gallery in time for gift-giving. Search the catalog, select the perfect image, and a high-quality print will be shipped to your doorstep! Order by December 15 for guaranteed holiday delivery. Of course, you can still download your favorite images to use for wallpaper or send a personalized e-card. For more details, see AOPA Online. |
| What's New At AOPA Online |
|If you use AOPA's Airport eDirectory, a downloadable version of AOPA's Airport Directory that can run on a personal computer or personal digital assistant, updated files for the directory are available. You can download the entire file or choose the states or regions that you want. For instructions, see AOPA Online. |
| Weekend Weather |
|See the current weather on AOPA Online, provided by Meteorlogix. |
| ePilot Calendar |
| FLYING DESTINATIONS NEXT WEEKEND: |
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. A Celebration of Flight Flyby takes place December 17 at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Participate in a GA flyby of the memorial following the airshow. All aircraft must register in advance to participate. Contact George Speake, 252/475-5571.
To submit an event to the calendar or to search all events visit AOPA Online. For airport details, see AOPA's Airport Directory Online .
AOPA AIR SAFETY FOUNDATION FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR REFRESHER CLINICS
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Baltimore, and Detroit, January 8 and 9. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online. Can't make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Renewal Online.