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AOPA ePilot Flight Training Edition - Volume 8, Issue 7AOPA ePilot Flight Training Edition - Volume 8, Issue 7

Volume 8, Issue 7 • February 15, 2008

In this issue:
AOPA wants runway safety to be a priority
Robinson Helicopter caught in school closure
AOPA to sponsor career seminar at WAI

This ePilot Flight Training Edition is sponsored by

Sponsored by ExxonMobil Aviation Lubricants


Airline Transport Professionals

King Schools

Pilot Insurance Center

Sign up for AOPA Project Pilot

AOPA Credit Card


Fly Exxon Elite


Scheyden Eyewear

Minnesota Life Insurance

AOPA Aircraft Financing

Garmin International

Do not reply to this e-mail. Got news? Contact ePilot. Having difficulty using this service? Visit the ePilot Frequently Asked Questions now at AOPA Online or write to [email protected].

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Copyright © 2008 AOPA.

Training Tips

One of the first weather products a pilot seeks out before flying is a surface analysis chart, and one of the most eye-catching features of that chart is the pattern of isobars arranged around high- and low-pressure systems. Isobars, defined as lines of equal atmospheric pressure, are as informative as they are visually striking. Isobars provide a ready look at how strong the winds are and from what general direction they flow. That's because winds flow roughly parallel to isobars—clockwise around high-pressure systems and counterclockwise around lows in the Northern Hemisphere.

"Isobars show pressure, and therefore, wind patterns. If a low is encircled by a tightly spaced series of isobars, then you know that the low is deep—one with strong, converging surface winds and therefore a lot of lifting power. If the low-level winds are converging, there's nowhere for air to go but up! So, chances are that during the ascent, there's condensation and cooling of water vapor. This situation often means you can count on low clouds and precipitation in the vicinity," Thomas A. Horne wrote in "Wx Watch: Isobars and Height Contours" in the October 2007 AOPA Pilot.

Why don't winds precisely parallel isobars? Several forces struggle for dominance, as Horne explains: "Wind behaves according to three main forces—pressure gradient, Coriolis, and friction. Pressure gradient force drives air toward low pressure centers, while Coriolis force acts opposite to this force. When pressure gradient and Coriolis forces are in balance, that's when air moves parallel to isobars. But friction can upset the balance by slowing wind speeds and reducing Coriolis force." That friction is introduced at the surface by terrain. Rougher terrain means more friction. (Also see Section 2 of AOPA's Handbook for Pilots.)

The link between isobars and winds is just one example of weather information available to any pilot with Internet access who does some homework before contacting flight service for a preflight weather briefing. To learn what else is available, and how to use it, read meteorologist Jack Williams' "Weather on the Web" at AOPA Flight Training Online. Study that wealth of weather on nonflying days too, for fun and to increase your piloting knowledge and skill.

Your Partner in Training

AOPA provides an online library containing the FAA practical test standards for most certificates and ratings. The PTS provides the examiner guidance as to what is required on a checkride and tells pilots and flight instructors what to expect. Included is an analysis of the changes to the PTS that were issued in August 2002.

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

Runway safety took center stage on Feb. 13 as Congress asked industry leaders and government officials to address the increasing number of runway incursions. AOPA President Phil Boyer testified at the hearing before the House aviation subcommittee and called on the FAA to make runway safety a national priority. Shortly before the hearing, the FAA recommended that all pilots at Part 121 air carriers take the Commercial Runway Safety course, created by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation in conjunction with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). But many airlines are now requiring that their pilots take the course. The original course, General Aviation Runway Safety , was launched in 2003 and was so well received the FAA and ALPA later asked the foundation for a commercial pilot version. Read more on AOPA Online.

There are more than 15 helicopters waiting in hangars at Robinson Helicopter with no place to go following the closure of North Las Vegas-based Silver State Helicopters. The failed company at one time had more than 30 schools in 15 states involving 2,500 students. AOPA’s Pilot Information Center has received 34 calls from students; most of them had signed $69,900 contracts to receive private-instrument through flight instructor certificates, external load proficiency training, and a turbine transition course. Read more on AOPA Online.

AOPA is sponsoring a presentation for aspiring career pilots at Women in Aviation International's annual conference in San Diego from March 13 to 15. If you're thinking about a career as an airline pilot, don't miss Wayne Phillips' presentation, scheduled for 2:50 to 3:40 p.m. on Friday, March 14. Phillips, a career advisor and columnist for the new "Career Pilot" section in AOPA Flight Training, tells you what you need to know in order to make informed decisions. Come to hear the latest on the hiring outlook, training options, job choices, career paths, and lifestyle considerations. You must register at the WAI conference to attend Phillips' presentation. The conference will be at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center. For more information or to register, see the Web site.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) has launched a new Web site aimed at inspiring young people to become professional pilots. will provide future pilots with the latest tools and information on becoming an airline pilot, ALPA said. The site features information about education and certification requirements, career choices, examples of daily life on the job, and more.

US Flight Academy (USFA) in Denton, Texas, has added a sport pilot training program to its curriculum. The program can be completed as quickly as 10 days for students who have not passed the knowledge test, and seven days for those who show up with a passing grade "and the weather cooperates," USFA said. The program includes 21 hours of training in a REMOS light sport aircraft (LSA) and 28 hours of ground school. The $3,783 training fee is waived if the student purchases an LSA from USFA.

Inside AOPA

This year's glass cockpit-equipped Piper Archer sweepstakes airplane is the perfect platform to learn the basic maneuvers of flight. And this is the perfect restoration project for first-time aircraft owners to learn how to update and care for their airplane. Read this week's project update to see what it takes for Oxford Aviation in Oxford, Maine, to give AOPA’s Get Your Glass airplane a great paint job.

Once you complete a private pilot certificate, the work doesn't end. You now have a host of proficiency requirements to track. Are you current to carry passengers at night? What's involved in a flight review? How often do you need to renew your medical certification? All these questions and more are covered in FAR Part 61. Put your knowledge of this section of the FARs to the test with the latest AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Quiz. Learn more by watching the on-demand Safetycast, "Regulations: What Every Pilot Should Know."

When 18-year-old Matthew Thomas was invited to take a ride with police Sgt. James Blair, it wasn't in the back of a police cruiser—it was in Blair's Piper Cherokee 160. Thomas, a friend of Blair's teenage daughter, enjoyed the flight so much that he went back for several more, and Blair became his AOPA Project Pilot mentor. Now Blair is being rewarded for sharing the joy of flight as the winner of the final fourth quarter random drawing for a $1,000 gift card to be used for aviation-related expenses. Read more on AOPA Online.

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 a new or replacement flight bag? Sporty's has revamped its Flight Gear line of flight bags and rolled out a selection with a host of new features. Among them: padded pockets for GPS units, cell phones, sunglasses, and other small items; padded headset pockets; padded straps to help you shoulder the load; and rubber cleats on the bottom of each bag to keep it elevated and clean. The complete selection can be viewed online. Prices start at $59.95 for the cross-country backpack. To order, see the Web site or call 800/SPORTYS.

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: If I'm in contact with air traffic control and getting flight following, does that automatically give me clearance into any type of airspace?

Answer: Using flight-following services does not absolve you of obtaining a clearance or communication requirements in certain airspace areas like Class B or C. More than likely the controller will have already coordinated your sequencing with other controllers pertaining to the direction you are heading, but do not assume and inadvertently enter the airspace if you get a gut feeling you might operate contrary to the FAA's Part 91 rulebook. It's better to query the controller to find out if you're cleared to enter. If not, request a temporary frequency change to make the appropriate contact yourself. Keep in mind that flight-following services are conducted on a workload-permitting basis and do not relieve you of your responsibilities as pilot in command. More on this subject is discussed in the Flight Training magazine article, "Flight Following: How to improve your flying enjoyment and safety."

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.

Weekend Weather
ePilot Calendar

Charlotte, N.C. The Future of Business Aviation VLJ Show takes place March 7 and 8 at Wilson Air Center at Charlotte/Douglas International (CLT). For more information, visit the Web site.

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 Sacramento, Calif., and Dallas, Feb. 23 and 24. Clinics are also scheduled in Phoenix, Ontario, Calif., and Virginia Beach, Va., March 1 and 2. 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 Eugene, Ore., Feb. 19; Portland, Ore., Feb. 20; Seattle, Feb. 21; and Puyallup, Wash., Feb. 23. The topic is "Top 5 Mistakes Pilots Make." Another seminar is also scheduled in Puyallup, Wash., Feb. 23 and the topic is "Say it Right! Radio Comm in Today's Airspace." For details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

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