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Hot night spots
What’s a good destination for a night dual cross-country? The Federal Aviation Regulations get you part way to an answer, setting forth night flying requirements for private pilot applicants, including the mandate that your logged night cross-country flight be “of over 100 nautical miles total distance.” But why not make your destination a practical choice? Is there an airport that you’d expect to visit at night after earning your pilot certificate? If so, check it out during training, in your instructor’s company.
Your CFI will ask you to research the airport and discuss its suitability as a nocturnal destination. Check on its runway lighting, fuel availability, and whether it has amenities such as visual approach guidance systems. Read more about airport infrastructure, the subject of the Nov. 28, "Training Tip."
If your destination is an airport you’ve used in daylight, don’t assume that a night flight will employ the same route and navigation plan. A higher altitude to clear any difficult-to-see obstructions may be prudent. Navigation may be altogether different at night. “Though you navigate by pilotage during the day, you may want to rethink your strategy at night. Because the terrain can look unfamiliar and desolate at night, it's easy to find yourself off course (or, at least, beginning to question your true position). To avoid this, back up your pilotage with radio navigation. Select the VORs or NDBs (nondirectional beacons) that will guide you to your destination,” wrote Robert N. Rossier in his feature on night flight available on the AOPA Flight Training Web site.
Often, problems that arise on night flights trace back to lack of preparation or rushing through preflight details (such as passing up the opportunity to refuel). Compound that error with unforecast bad weather, or systems failure in flight, and now you are facing serious difficulties, as the cautionary tale “Never Again: A cold night in February” makes clear. But make a good go/no-go decision and fly with a healthy surplus of fuel aboard, and you’ll pay a visit to one of general aviation’s most thrilling realms: the beautiful, frequently serene night skies. David Montoya wrote about this in his October 2002 AOPA Flight Training feature “The after-hours club."
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
What is the difference between a Part 61 flight school and a Part 141 facility? Which one will help you to become a private pilot? The answer is: Both will get you the certificate you seek. They differ in their approach to training, and the school you choose should reflect your style of learning and what you hope to achieve with your pilot certificate. For more, see the aviation subject report, Part 61 and Part 141: What’s the Difference?
Did you know that student pilots who join AOPA are three times more likely to complete their flight training? Membership includes unlimited access to aviation information by phone (800/USA-AOPA, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time) or from AOPA Flight Training Online or AOPA Online. If you're not already a member, join today and get the pilot's edge. Login information is available online.
A midair on Dec. 7 over the Florida Everglades involved a Cessna 172 and Piper PA-44 Seminole on training flights. The student and instructor in each aircraft were killed. The accident occurred in visual meteorological conditions in a common training area. The NTSB has not yet issued its preliminary report on the accident. “Although midair collisions are extremely rare, the high-traffic airspace in this area requires all pilots to exercise extreme vigilance,” said Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Read more >>
New quiz covers cold hard facts of icing
For light general aviation aircraft, structural icing is one of the greatest hazards of winter flying, accounting for more than 150 accidents during a recent 10-year period. Ice can accumulate quickly, decreasing lift and increasing drag to the point that continued flight is impossible. Learn how to avoid icing conditions (and what to do if you fly into the unexpected) with the latest safety quiz from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Then expand your knowledge with the foundation's other cold-weather resources.
Coming to a flight school near you: a simulator that can track your brain wave activity? That was one of the flight simulator technologies demonstrated at an industry trade show last week in Orlando, Fla. The system tracks a pilot’s brain-wave activity and reaction time to realistic flight simulation scenarios. Navy officials plan to use it to improve virtual training exercises for pilots, according to a report in The Orlando Sentinel . The system may be put into service early next year at the Navy’s flight training operation in Pensacola.
Texas city signs pact with flight school
Officials in Hondo, Texas, have signed an economic development pact with a flight school to open an international flight training academy at the Hondo Municipal Airport. The agreement with Wright Flyers Aviation Inc. is expected to generate 75 new jobs and $6.9 million in investment by 2013, according to a report in the San Antonio Express. Wright Flyers will lease city land to construct a 15,000-square-foot hangar and will initially have 12 airplanes.
Invest in aviation infrastructure, groups tell Congress
If Congress were to include the aviation sector in its economic stimulus packages, more than 40,000 high-paying jobs would be created, aviation safety would be improved, and there would be positive effects for the environment, according to a coalition of aviation organizations. The group of 12, including AOPA, told Senate and House leaders that the industry’s proposals would, “not only achieve short term economic stimulus goals, but would also lead to long-term efficiencies and economic growth.” Read more >>
You've heard that a good pilot is always learning, and it's important to continue your aviation education. Just like training, airplane work is never complete. Such is the case with the 2008 Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Piper Archer. While most of the work has been completed since June, minor squawks show themselves as we continue to fly the Archer around the country. See this week's update to learn what's been done and what's left to do on the Archer.
Personal tracker available from Aircraft Spruce
When we’re flying somewhere, we want people to know where we’re going and what route we’ll be following. That’s why we file and open flight plans, ask for flight following, or choose a route that takes us near airports in the event of an emergency. You could also carry along a cell phone. What if you’re out of signal range? Aircraft Spruce offers SPOT, a satellite personal tracker that it says is a compact, light-weight, personal ELT. SPOT will send GPS coordinates and a distress message to a GEOS International Emergency Response Center. The unit can be used in flight and after landing. While you’re aloft, SPOT sends a message to the owner’s account every 10 minutes, and friends can access it through the Internet to check on your progress through Google Maps. The unit operates on two AA batteries and sells for $149.99. Service plans are extra. 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.
Question: Last night, my instructor and I were flying near a military operations area (MOA). We noticed what looked like military aircraft flying around, but they didn't have any lights on. Aren't all aircraft required to use their position lights when flying at night?
Answer: The FAA has granted the Air Force an exemption to operate in select MOAs without using any lights. These practice runs allow Air Force pilots to train with night vision goggles. You should always check with the controlling agency to determine whether an MOA is active. To learn more about flying in special-use airspace, and "Lights-Out" operations in particular, check out the AOPA Air Safety Foundation online course, Mission Possible: Navigating Today's Special Use Airspace . You can also read AOPA’s regulatory brief.
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.
Pilots love to take photos, and they love to share them with other pilots. Now you can upload your flying photos to our brand-new online gallery, "Air Mail." Share your special aviation images, or view and rate more than 300 photos and counting. Highly rated photos will get put into rotation on the AOPA home page!
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER
Want something to do this weekend? Wanting to plan an aviation getaway? See our online calendar of events. We've enhanced our calendar so that with one click, you can see all of the events listed in the calendar regions you selected when personalizing ePilot . Now you can browse events listed two weeks to a few months out to make your planning easier. Before you take off on an adventure, make sure you check our current aviation weather provided by Jeppesen.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 13 and 14; and San Antonio, Portland, Ore., and Rochester, N.Y., Jan. 3 and 4. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Can't make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.
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Editorial Team : ePilot Editor: Alyssa Miller | Contributors: Warren Morningstar, Alton Marsh