There's a new sister to AOPA.org. AOPA has completely redesigned its Flight Training Web site to make it more user friendly, easier to navigate, and more logical and relevant to both the student pilot and the certificated flight instructor (CFI). And for current pilots, there is no better place on the Internet to send someone you know who is interested in learning to fly or who has started their flight training.
Like our Win-A-Twin sweepstakes Twin Comanche, the new Flight Training Web site is so much better than the original. If you want a quick overview, just click on the button in the upper right-hand corner of the home page to take a "quick tour" of all the new features.
Our AOPA design team started with a "clean screen" and took a look at what student pilots really need in a Web site. We asked the experts - the CFIs staffing our toll-free pilot assistance hotline (one of the many benefits of being an AOPA member).
They answer more than 140,000 phone calls and e-mails a year, many of them from student pilots. So they've come to know the most "frequently asked questions" (FAQs) from students. And they've developed some of the best resources to help answer those questions.
Then we looked at the best way to present this information on a Web site. So knowing what a student needs, we divided the site into the key flight training phases: pre-solo, solo, maneuvers, cross-country, and flight-test preparation. Within each section, there are FAQs that link to illuminating articles for even more information, interactive courses and quizzes, a flying skills area, and a special topics area.
The site is full of "rich media" that take advantage of the special properties of the Web to present information in new and exciting ways. Trying to learn all of those confusing signs and markings in the "big airport" environment? There's an interactive "flash card" quiz from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation that will help you burn it all into your memory.
"QTVR" technology allows you to pan around a complex airport environment and a control tower to get a better understanding of what you'll be facing the first time you head for the "big" airport.
One of the most valuable features is the "Virtual Flight Bag," a compendium of everything that's needed to plan a safe and fun flight, including links to weather, notams and temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), AOPA's Airport Directory Online, and AOPA 's Real-Time Flight Planner.
The Learn to Fly selection answers questions like "Is it safe? What will I fly? How much will it cost?"
But it also offers a good primer on how it all works - from the basics of aircraft operation to the workings of air traffic control.
And, of course, you'll find all of the back issues of AOPA Flight Training magazine available online for additional research.
The CFI section holds answers to many of the working flight instructor's questions, from properly worded logbook endorsements to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Instructor's Guide to the Presolo Written Test. There's also a video to show CFIs how to attract and retain more students.
Like any great Web site, flighttraining.aopa.org will be a continuing work in progress. There's a lot more we will be adding in the future. As we get feedback from both students and CFIs, we'll populate the site with more helpful features to make learning to fly easier, more enjoyable and more fun.
AOPA has been around 65 years, and AOPA.org has been online since 1995. We've put much of what we've learned about aviation and the Web into this new site.
Which just goes to show you, a good pilot is always learning. And so is a great aviation association.