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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Flight Training Edition -- Vol. 7, Issue 3

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Volume 7, Issue 3 • January 19, 2007
In this issue:
Regional airlines pick up 23 hires from ATP
Community college scholarship honors black aviator
UAVs drone along the northern border

This ePilot Flight Training Edition is sponsored by

Sponsored by Mooney Aircraft Company


Garmin International

AOPA Line of Credit

Airline Transport Professionals

Comm1 Radio Simulator

King Schools

Pilot Insurance Center

JP Instruments


AOPA Credit Card

Scheyden Eyewear

Minnesota Life Insurance

AOPA Aircraft Financing

Bose Aviation Headsets

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Training Tips

An altitude that assures terrain clearance at all times is a basic safety factor pilots use when planning a flight. A phenomenon called CFIT causes many accidents, especially at night. "CFIT, which stands for controlled flight into terrain, is defined by the FAA as an airworthy aircraft that is under the control of a qualified pilot and is flown into terrain, like water or obstacles, with inadequate awareness on the part of the pilot of the impending collision. From 1995 to 2004, there were 267 fatal accidents as a result of CFIT in night VFR conditions," explained the Quiz Me section of the June 23, 2006, AOPA ePilot.

As a pilot, you shoulder the responsibility under federal aviation regulations to inform yourself fully about a planned flight. A good way to begin your safe-altitude research is to note maximum elevation figures (MEFs) within the sectional chart grids through which your course line passes. Consider MEFs in adjoining grids for extra safety. MEFs represent "the highest elevation, including terrain and other vertical obstacles (towers, trees, etc.) within a quadrant. A quadrant on sectionals is the area bounded by ticked lines dividing each 30 minutes of latitude and each 30 minutes of longitude. MEF figures are depicted to the nearest 100' value," explains the Aeronautical Chart User's Guide, which you can download from AOPA Online.

Next, study the Airport/Facility Directory and notams for details and recently released information on obstructions and their lighting. "Two kinds of physical obstacles confront a pilot when planning or conducting a flight. First are the obstacles in the vicinity of the airport; they require us to be sure we can obtain the aircraft performance needed to safely take off or land over them. The second type of obstacle consists of those we must overfly or circumnavigate during the en route phase of the flight," explained the August 8, 2003, Training Tips article "Obstruction Avoidance."

Once airborne, stay safe by updating your altimeter setting often. Remember that quickly changing weather can bring rapid rises or falls in barometric pressure. Err on the high side, thus thwarting CFIT when choosing an altitude, day or night.

Your Partner in Training

Your first introduction to a general aviation training aircraft is called a "preflight." This is your opportunity to become an expert on the aircraft you'll fly throughout your training as you and your instructor carefully scrutinize control surfaces, landing gear, rivets, and much more. Augment your preflight knowledge by researching your particular trainer. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has type-specific aircraft reviews of the most popular airplanes in general aviation. Find yours on AOPA Online.

Do you have a question? Call the experienced pilots in AOPA's Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA. They're available to take your calls weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern. 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

Students returned to classes this week at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona Beach, Florida, campus after a Christmas Day tornado damaged several buildings and the bulk of the school's aircraft fleet. The start of the spring semester was delayed six days. One saving grace is that the flight program will be making the transition to glass cockpits much sooner after the university obtained late-model Cessnas from flight schools around the country and from alumni and friends of the school. The transition was planned to take three years, but now it should be completed by summer. Check out our online slide show to see what a tornado can do to small airplanes.

ASA, Trans State Airlines, and Pinnacle Airlines hired 23 pilot applicants during interviews held earlier this month at Airline Transport Professionals' headquarters. ATP facilitated the interviews for pilots with total flight time between 330 and 700 hours. The hiring agreements were based on completion of ATP's regional jet standards certification program. Pinnacle Airlines hired and offered class dates to nine applicants; Trans State Airlines hired five applicants; and ASA notified nine applicants of conditional offers of employment based on successful completion of a simulator evaluation. For more information on ATP, see the Web site.

Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, has established a scholarship that will be available to African-American students pursuing aviation careers. The scholarship honors the memory of Lewis A. Jackson, an educator and entrepreneur from Xenia, Ohio, who spent his early years barnstorming across Indiana and Ohio to earn money for college. In 1939, he earned commercial and instructor certificates. He eventually became director of training at the Army Air Force 66th Flight Training Detachment, where, under his guidance, three groups of Tuskegee Airmen ranked first among the 22 schools in the Southeast Army Air Corps Training Command. After the war, he was an FAA designated pilot examiner and earned a master's degree from Miami University and a doctoral degree in higher education from Ohio State University.

Thomas Luman, an aviation student at the University of Oklahoma, and Jon Johanson of Australia will be honored at this year's Wiley Post Spirit Awards banquet, set for January 26 in Oklahoma City. Luman is the recipient of the Pearl Carter-Scott aviation scholarship, named for the Chickasaw aviatrix and presented to a member of the Chickasaw Nation who is pursuing a degree in aviation. Johanson is the first international aviator to receive the Wiley Post Spirit Award, which recognizes an individual in general aviation who best exemplifies the pioneering spirit of Wiley Post. Johanson was the first person to fly solo over the South Pole in a single-engine aircraft, and the first person to circumnavigate the world solo three times in a homebuilt aircraft. For more information about the awards banquet or the Wiley Post Commission, visit the Web site.

Inside AOPA

Pilots in the South have had to deal with them. Now pilots flying near the northern U.S. border may have to share airspace with unmanned drones. But AOPA is continuing its efforts to ensure that general aviation pilots aren't put at risk or needlessly inconvenienced. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) could start patrolling a section of the U.S.-Canada border by this fall, launching from Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. "While we know that the DHS eventually intends to deploy Predators along the northern border, our talks with the FAA this week revealed that there is no official timetable for starting the flights, nor has Homeland Security obtained a certificate of authorization from the FAA allowing their UAVs to fly northern patrols," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "And before they do fly, we'll work with the FAA to make sure that safety is maintained." AOPA has learned that recent improvements to the Predator's sensor package mean that it can routinely fly patrols above 18,000 feet in Class A airspace. That means no temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) would be required to protect GA aircraft from the drones while on patrol. "Predator climbs and descents are another matter," said Rudinger. "Along the Mexico border, the Predator UAVs are launched and recovered through existing special-use airspace." But there are no restricted or prohibited areas near Grand Forks. See AOPA Online.

You say you'd like to complete an online aviation course, but you only have 30 minutes? The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has what you need: four courses ranging from 4 to 30 minutes each. Topics include datalink, pneumatics, the Garmin 430/530, and the visual warning system around Washington, D.C. So put your little bit of time to a lot of good use by completing an Air Safety Foundation online course.

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

Paper logbooks are tangible records of your progress as a student pilot and have served that purpose efficiently for decades. As we move toward a paperless society, however, more and more computer-based logbook options are popping up. AVLogbook's online version offers several features that go beyond the ability to log a flight, such as tracking medical renewals, flight reviews, day and night currency, and instrument competency. Student pilots can make logbook entries that indicate they have received instruction, and then record maneuvers and instructor name, enter cost associated with the training, or print an endorsement page that an instructor can sign. You can then keep the printed pages in a three-ring binder of endorsements for a permanent record of your training. AVLogbook costs $18 per year to subscribe; a Pilot ProPack version, with additional tools for commercial pilots, independent CFIs, and designated pilot examiners, is available for $24 per year. For more information, 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: I'm just starting to learn my way around decoding and understanding textual weather reports like METARs. Does AOPA have resources to help me learn more on this important subject?

Answer: AOPA has a list of METAR/TAF abbreviations that decodes their meanings. And the AOPA Air Safety Foundation offers an online Safety Quiz to help pilots confirm that they not only understand the weather codes, but also how they may apply to making a go/no-go decision. Also, this article from the January 2005 issue of AOPA Flight Training discusses the bigger forecasting picture and helps in understanding where the weather information is coming from, so that the resulting briefings will make more sense.

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
When the new year rolls around, many pilots consider using health-care flex-plan dollars to pay for corrective eye surgery such as LASIK or photorefractive keratectomy. Before you take the plunge, however, be sure to review the FAA requirements for reporting and recovery from these procedures. You'll find them in the newly updated subject report from AOPA's Pilot Information Center.

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

ePilot Calendar
St. Louis, MO. The Midwest Aviation Conference and Trade Show takes place January 19 through 21 at St. Louis University Busch Student Center. There's something for everyone interested in aviation, seminars, trade show, and more! Contact Jeff Edwards, 636/532-5638, or visit the Web site.

Oklahoma City, OK. The Wiley Post Spirit Award Banquet takes place January 26 at the Petroleum Club. This year's honoree is Jon Johanson. During the awards banquet, the Pearl Carter-Scott Aviation Scholarship will be presented to a member of the Chickasaw Nation. Contact Bob Kemper, 405/789-0005, or visit the Web site.

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

The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Baltimore; Charlotte, NC; and Seattle, January 27 and 28. Clinics are also scheduled in Sacramento, CA, Louisville, KY, and Ashburn, VA, February 10 and 11. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online. Can't make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.

AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars are scheduled in Mesa, AZ, and Fort Worth, TX, January 22; Tucson, AZ, and Houston, January 23; Kearny, NE, El Paso, TX, and San Antonio, January 24; and Albuquerque, NM, and Austin, TX, January 25. The topic is "Say it Right! Radio Communications in Today's Airspace." For details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

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