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AOPA ePilot Flight Training Edition - Volume 7, Issue 50

Volume 7, Issue 50 • December 14, 2007

In this issue:
Flight Design announces new light sport aircraft
CFIs: Don't wait too long to renew your certificate
Fuel awareness pilot safety announcements

This ePilot Flight Training Edition is sponsored by

Sponsored by ExxonMobil Aviation Lubricants


Scheyden Eyewear

AOPA 24-Hour Watch from Sporty's

Minnesota Life Insurance

AOPA Aircraft Financing

Garmin International

Airline Transport Professionals

AOPA Insurance Agency

King Schools

Pilot Insurance Center

Comm1 Radio Simulator

Sign up for AOPA Project Pilot

Lockheed Martin

AOPA Credit Card

ASF Courses


JP Instruments


Fly Exxon Elite


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Copyright © 2007 AOPA.

Training Tips

Nontowered airports can be extremely busy places. Knowing the fine points of an arrival procedure can advance safety and smooth traffic flow, as the Dec. 7, 2007, Training Tips article "I'll call your base" described. No one calls your base when you arrive at a nontowered airport. But someone may advise which runway is active and give the winds if you call in to request an airport advisory.

When is the correct time to make that call? "Monitor the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) when the aircraft is 10 miles from the airport and establish and maintain communications until landing," advises Section 5 of AOPA's Handbook for Pilots. That also means self-announcing your position when entering the downwind, base, and final legs, and leaving the runway, adds Chapter 4 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (see Table 4-1-1, summary of recommended communications procedures). This gives other pilots time to spot your aircraft. You can make yourself more visible by using your landing light.

Often aircraft arriving at a nontowered airport may have been receiving radar traffic advisories from air traffic control while en route. You may be only two or three miles from your destination when the controller advises, "Radar service terminated, change to advisory frequency approved"—especially if you have not yet reported the airport in sight. Although the notification terminating radar service may include instructions to switch to the advisory frequency (see the Pilot/Controller Glossary ), make sure you have already started monitoring the CTAF on another radio 10 miles out.

What if an airport advisory seems to recommend landing on an inappropriate runway or with a tailwind? A flight instructor challenged Rod Machado to tackle that query in the February 2004 AOPA Flight Training. He responded, "I teach every one of my primary students to call for an advisory, then overfly the nontowered airport (at a minimum of 500 feet above TPA, or traffic pattern altitude), and look at the wind indicators. At this point they make a decision on how to land that also takes into consideration the current flow of traffic." See the rest of his discussion for other tips about airport advisories—everything from tumbleweed reports, to cars, debris, or children on the runway, just to name a few!

Your Partner in Training

Every AOPA member—including those who have accepted AOPA's six-month introductory membership offer—has free, live access to our in-house flight instructors and aviation experts who are standing by to answer your questions. Call the AOPA Pilot Information Center Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern, toll-free at 800/872-2672. And check out our online Pilot Information Center Subject Reports. Topics for these reports are drawn from the real-life concerns of AOPA members who call our staff for help more than 100,000 times every year.

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

Flight Design, the German producer of the CT line of light sport aircraft, announced on Dec. 10 that it is introducing a third-generation CT. The CTLS features new landing gear with energy-absorbing characteristics and an interior with redesigned seats and reduced noise level, among other features. The CTLS will be on display at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., in January. Flight Design said the airplane would be certified as a special light sport aircraft by that time. Production began in mid-November, and Flight Design said it has begun accepting orders from international dealers. The new design does not replace the CTSW, which will continue to be built in the existing configuration, Flight Design said.

Flight instructors: Are you planning to complete an online Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic (FIRC) in the month of December? If you are, don't be tempted to wait until the last weekend of the month, Dec. 29 and 30. AOPA's Pilot Information Center staff and help desk aren't available on weekends, and if you have problems, questions, or issues arising from the online FIRC, you could exceed your deadline for renewal. So don't wait until the last minute! Brought to you by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation and Jeppesen, the online FIRC is a great way for you to renew your certificate from the comfort and convenience of your own home—day or night. See AOPA Online for more information or to register.

Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla., and Nigeria's Bauchi State signed an agreement through which students from Bauchi will enroll in Florida Tech's aeronautics program. Ten students will begin studying for a bachelor's degree in January. Three will major in aviation meteorology, four in aeronautical science, and three in aviation management. All will learn to fly with the goal of attaining a commercial pilot certificate with instrument and multiengine ratings.

Sir Richard Branson and his son, Sam, completed a zero-G space flight training course on Dec. 3 at the National Aerospace Training and Research Center in Southampton, Pa. The founder of Virgin Galactic trained in preparation for a flight aboard SpaceShipTwo, the suborbital vehicle his company is developing along with Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites. About 60 of the first 100 Virgin Galactic spaceflight customers, known as "Founders," have completed the training.

Inside AOPA

On Dec. 17, AOPA celebrates the 104th anniversary of Orville and Wilbur Wright's first powered flight in 1903. Americans' freedom to fly for business, charity, and pleasure surpasses that of any other nation, and many don't think about how important small general aviation airplanes and airports are to their personal quality of life. That's why AOPA is reaching out once again, during the busy holiday travel season, to the nonflying public with six television commercials that begin running on Dec. 17 and will continue through Jan. 2. The 30-second ads, running on The Weather Channel, are expected to reach more than 30 million viewers across the United States to show interesting facts about GA, create awareness, and direct them to GA Serving America to learn even more.

There's a reason that your flight instructor keeps pounding you with the importance of calculating fuel burn. It's because too many pilots wind up running a tank dry or landing short of their destination because they failed to carry enough fuel for the mission. No pilot takes off intending to run out of fuel, of course—and yet, in an average week, nearly three general aviation aircraft crash as a result of improper fuel management. That statistic provided the impetus for the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's new series of Pilot Safety Announcements (PSAs). Taking a cue from televised public service announcements, these short videos aim to spread the message of sensible fuel management to a wider audience without lecturing, and with a sense of humor. Check out the foundation's PSAs, and be sure to tell your flight instructor about them.

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

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for that uneasy cockpit companion? Pinch Hitter —one of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's most popular DVDs—has saved many flying relationships. This at-home course includes the basics of aircraft control, communication, introduction to navigation, and how to land in an emergency. The 45-minute DVD may be purchased alone or with a useful print manual that reinforces key points. To make sure the gift arrives in time for the holidays, plan to allow two business days for shipping. For pricing and other aviation-related gift ideas, see the foundation's store.

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: What's the difference between a unicom and a common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF)?

Answer: A unicom station (the base-radio unit) is privately owned and operated by a business entity (usually a fixed-based operator, or FBO) at an airport. Pilots flying in and out can communicate with the FBO to request information such as fuel availability, rental car reservations, and hangar/tie-down space and cost. The unicom can be used to give advisory information about the airport (active runway and wind direction, for example), but it should not be used to control traffic around the airport. On the other hand, the CTAF is assigned to a nontowered airport (or an airport where the tower operates part time) for the sole purpose of allowing pilots to report air traffic activity. In some situations the airport CTAF may also be the unicom frequency. Additional information on this subject is discussed in Chapter 4 of the Aeronautical Information Manual.

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
Looking for some really fabulous aviation photography? All the air-to-air photos and beautifully detailed ground images used by AOPA Pilot magazine over the years are yours at the click of a mouse button. Download your favorite images to use for wallpaper, send an e-postcard, or order prints online. For more details, see AOPA Online.

What's New at AOPA Online
Making assumptions and being in a hurry to land don't mix well, as this Piper Warrior pilot found out. Explore his thought process at the end of an exhilarating cross-country flight in this new installment of Never Again Online.

Weekend Weather
See the current weather on AOPA Online, provided by Jeppesen.

ePilot Calendar
There are no national events this week.

To submit an event to the calendar or to search all events visit AOPA Online. For airport details, including FBO fuel prices, see AOPA's Airport Directory Online.

The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Denver, and Chicago, Dec. 15 and 16. Clinics are also scheduled in Detroit, and San Antonio, Jan. 5 and 6. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online. Can't make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.

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