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| Training Tips |
ASOS AND AWOS
Technology has brought an enormous increase in the amount of information—especially weather information—at a pilot's fingertips. During the preflight briefing, you can study conditions at multiple reporting points, thanks to automated surface observation systems (ASOSs) and automated weather observation systems (AWOSs) at many airports. And those same systems are there to help you plan your arrival at many destinations. Include monitoring the station's report on your list of arrival duties before you contact the tower or request an airport advisory at nontowered airports. For more on using the CTAF at nontowered airports, see the Dec. 14, 2007, "Training Tips."
"Each ASOS is equipped to transmit weather via voice or computer through telephone or on VHF radio frequencies," the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Advisor about ASOS explains. Use the Safety Advisor to learn the different service levels of the various ASOS installations—and consider the circumstances under which the information provided is susceptible to inaccuracy or error. You'll also see an explanation of the differences between ASOS and AWOS installations. ASOS is more sophisticated, uses more computer processing, and has better quality control. Note that if a component of an ASOS's weather reporting capabilities is not operating, a code to that effect will appear in its published METAR. For instance, the code TSNO indicates that thunderstorm information is not available—definitely worth knowing during your preflight briefing.
Want to start watching weather trends at a possible destination, or just curious about what's happening at your home airport? Visit this FAA's ASOS Web page to check conditions.
With ASOS information so easily obtainable in a preflight weather briefing by telephone or computer, and from the air by radio, there's no reason not to acquire the most timely reports, then update as you near your destination [see your VFR aeronautical chart, AOPA's Airport Directory , or the Airport/Facility Directory for the correct frequency]. But also remember, as Ralph Butcher cautions in the Jan. 7, 2005, "Training Tips: Check the Sock," to survey the situation with your own eyes to get the total picture.
| Your Partner in Training |
Happy new year! What are your aviation goals for 2008? If you're stuck for ideas, take a look at this thread in the AOPA Aviation Forums in which your fellow AOPA members share their plans for the coming year. Then get started on your own list. If you have questions about how to reach your goals, contact the experienced pilots in AOPA's Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA. They're available to take your calls weekdays from 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 |
COMM1 AWARDS 2007 AVIATION SCHOLARSHIP
Rebekah Bennett, 21, of Vista, Calif., has been named the winner of the seventh annual Comm1 Aviation Scholarship. She will receive $1,000 toward her tuition and flight training expenses, as well as a Comm1 VFR Radio Simulator CD-ROM training program. Bennett is in the aviation flight technology program at San Diego Christian College, where she is a member of the flight team and has placed in several regional competition events. A private pilot since June 2006, Bennett is working on obtaining a CFI certificate and multiengine rating. For more information about Comm1's annual scholarship program, see the Web site.
FAA MAKES LOCAL NOTAMS AVAILABLE ONLINE
Pilots will soon be able to get all notices to airmen, or notams, for a given flight from electronic sources, thanks to a change in the status of "local" notams. Beginning Jan. 28, all new local, or L, notams will be reclassified as D notams and added to the national notam system. This means that for the first time, pilots will be able to get all relevant notams, including those that affect only their destination airport, without calling flight service. In the past, pilots who used online briefing sources such as AOPA's Real Time Flight Planner or DUATS did not receive local notams, which can include important operational data like taxiway closures. For more information, see the complete story on AOPA Online.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF BALTIMORE COUNTY TO OFFER ATC TRAINING
Maryland's Community College of Baltimore County is one of nine new colleges and universities chosen by the FAA to offer air traffic controller training beginning in the fall. CCBC's aviation studies program offers an associate of applied science degree in air traffic control, flight management, and flight training, along with certificate programs for air traffic control, flight training, aviation management, and flight attendant. The college has posted an Air Traffic Control Collegiate Training Initiative Guide to answer questions about eligibility requirements and other criteria.
| Inside AOPA |
NEW SAFETYCAST SEMINARS NOW AVAILABLE
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's popular online SafetyCast series just got bigger, with six new on-demand seminars added this week. Are you concerned about coronary artery disease or other heart condition that might keep you grounded? Learn how to navigate the special issuance process and avoid a medical certification denial. Other new topics include exciting flying destinations in the United States and Canada, navigating today's airspace, and making sense of the Federal Aviation Regulations. More than 20 convenient, information-packed SafetyCasts are now at your fingertips. Check them out today.
SIX NEW SAFETYCASTS NOW AVAILABLE
The weather outside might be frightful, but don't let that deter you from improving your flying skills. Six new "SafetyCasts" are now available from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's popular collection of on-demand safety seminars. For more information, see AOPA Online.
HAVE YOU UPDATED YOUR AOPA MEMBER PROFILE?
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 |
HILTON SOFTWARE UPDATES 'WINGX'
Hilton Software, creator of WingX portable preflight preparation software, has released an updated version. The newest iteration, version 2.5, enables smartphone users to obtain reams of preflight data anywhere they can receive a cell phone signal. Along with the ability to connect to DUATS for preflight weather and flight restriction information, users can also access specific aircraft weight and balance information, check their personal flight currency, get the complete set of Federal Aviation Regulations, and calculate flight data with an E6B, to name a few. The program is compatible with Windows Mobile 5.0 and 6.0, and runs on devices such as Cingular's Treo line, Verizon's 6700 and Motorola Q, and T-Mobile's Dash. The program is $129.95 with a one-year subscription, and $49.95 to $99.95 for a yearly subscription. For more information, see the Web site, or call 866/429-4649.
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: While I was flying over an unfamiliar nontowered airport it seemed as though two different traffic pattern altitudes were being used—the lower altitude for airplanes like my Cessna 172 and the higher one by a corporate jet. I set up to enter the pattern at the lower altitude and kept my eye on the jet, but I wondered if I was missing something?
Answer: Typically, piston-powered airplanes like a Cessna 172, Piper Archer, or Cirrus SR20 will fly a 1,000-foot agl (above ground level) traffic pattern altitude while the heavier, higher performance jet/turboprop airplanes will fly a slightly higher altitude, say around 1,500 feet agl, in order to operate safely without causing conflict for other aircraft. When flying into an unfamiliar nontowered airport, you should consider flying at least 500 feet above the highest advertised traffic pattern altitude (TPA) in order to observe the airfield and windsock for the preferred runway in use. AOPA's Airport Directory Online lists airport TPAs that you can use for your preflight planning needs. Additional insight on traffic patterns is discussed in the online article "Looking for Traffic: Considerations for avoiding that midair collision."
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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 |
|See the current weather on AOPA Online, provided by Jeppesen. |
| ePilot Calendar |
| UPCOMING FLYING DESTINATIONS: |
Lake Havasu City, AZ. A Vintage Mooney Group Fly-In takes place January 12 at Lake Havasu City (HII). Contact Phil Corman, 805/227-0480, or 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.
FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR REFRESHER CLINICS
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Long Beach, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; and Sevierville, Tenn., Jan. 12 and 13. Clinics are also scheduled in Jackson, Miss.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Rochester, N.Y., Jan. 19 and 20. 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
AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars are scheduled in Reno, Nev., Jan. 7; Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 8; Milpitas, Calif., Jan. 9; Rohnert Park, Calif., January 10; Mesa, Ariz., and Ft. Worth, Tex., Jan. 14; Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 15; El Paso, Tex., Jan. 16; and Albuquerque, N.M., Jan. 17. The topic is "Top 5 Mistakes Pilots Make." For details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.