The arrival of spring and, for much of the country, daylight-saving time means that the start of the GA flying season can't be far behind, so the AOPA Air Safety Foundation has turned the "Safety Hot Spot" in the Online Safety Center into a "rust-remover" for pilots who operate from nontowered airports.
"Operating in a nontowered environment provides a unique set of challenges that the Safety Hot Spot addresses," said Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. "It's a lot like merging onto a highway. We've got to fit into the flow of traffic and stay safely separated from others, all without benefit of official oversight. The good news is it works very efficiently when everyone plays by the same rules. The Hot Spot is a way to bone up on those rules."
The very first item in the Safety Hot Spot is a checklist highlighting flight planning, aircraft preflight inspection, and aircraft operational items that are especially important when operating in a nontowered environment. It includes things like being familiar with the layout and usual procedures at both the departure and arrival airports, weather information sources, and communications procedures. There's even a link to a printable kneeboard-formatted version of the checklist.
The Safety Hot Spot also lists numerous online reference materials, including the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Advisors, Operations at Nontowered Airports and Collision Avoidance, articles from Landsberg's "Safety Pilot" column in AOPA Pilot magazine, and even some video clips that demonstrate some of the challenges pilots face in a nontowered environment (broadband connection recommended).
Once pilots have reviewed the reference materials, they can take a Sporty's Safety Quiz to make sure they truly understand the material. And there are links to additional resources, such as FAA Advisory Circulars on nontowered operations.
"As with everything we do, the bottom line is enhancing safety," said Landsberg. "With improving weather, more pilots are going to take advantage, meaning more aircraft in the traffic pattern and more need for vigilance, especially at nontowered airports."
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation, the world's largest nonprofit GA safety organization, was founded in 1950 solely to help general aviation pilots improve flight safety. Since that time, the total GA accident rate has dropped by more than 90 percent despite a large increase in GA flight hours. The Air Safety Foundation produces live seminars, online interactive courses, videotapes, printed Safety Advisors, and other aviation safety materials for free distribution to all GA pilots.
Foundation safety outreach efforts are funded through voluntary donations by AOPA members and tax-deductible contributions from individual pilots and companies interested in promoting general aviation safety.
April 1, 2005