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AOPA ePilot Custom ContentAOPA ePilot Custom Content

The following stories from the July 25, 2008, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online.

My ePilot Training Tips

Most student pilots can describe the proper radio self-announcements to be made during arrival and departure operations at airports without operating control towers. Fewer can say with certainty when those announcements are most effectively broadcast on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF). In busy airport traffic patterns, radioing your position and intentions may not always be possible at ideal moments because of frequency congestion. But when possible, make your calls when other pilots can make best use of the information.

How often have you flown in the traffic pattern during a practice session and been surprised to hear someone announce that he or she is entering the 45-degree downwind leg, or taxiing onto the runway for departure? In both cases, recommended procedure calls for an earlier first announcement. When flying inbound to land, the best practice as set out in the Aeronautical Information Manual is to make your first announcement over the CTAF and then when entering downwind, base, and final legs. A departing aircraft is expected to self-announce "before taxiing and before taxiing on the runway for departure."

Note that the arriving aircraft's self-announcements in the traffic pattern are to be made when entering downwind, base, and final. "Announcements made just before 'turning the corners' give other pilots in the pattern a definite place to look for traffic. Banking airplanes are easier for others at the same altitude to spot. High-wing aircraft should always pick up a wing and look before turning," says the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Advisor Operations at Nontowered Airports .

An aircraft cockpit is a busy place during the arrival phase of a flight, so don't get preoccupied and omit that 10-miles-out self-announcement from your to-do list—even if you haven't yet found the field. "You may be 10 miles out and still have no clue where the airport is, especially if it is hidden amidst city clutter, but other pilots will be able to avoid you," Alton K. Marsh wrote in the February 2003 AOPA Pilot feature "Get Down!"

And whether arriving or departing, turn on that landing light as an additional safety measure.

Training Products

Most pilots would agree that a kneeboard is an essential tool for the cockpit, since you'll use it to keep a chart, flight planning sheet, E6B, writing tool, taxiway diagram, or other necessities within easy reach. Sporty's new Flight Gear VFR Tri-Fold Kneeboard includes two zippered storage compartments, two mesh pockets, a clear chart pocket, and two pen loops. The kneeboard also features a clipboard displaying a VFR placard of the cruising altitudes, flight plan sequence, and more. The kneeboard measures 20 inches by 11 and one-half inches open, or seven and one-quarter inches by 11 and one-half inches closed. It sells for $24.95. Order it online 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.

My ePilot Final Exam

Question: I recently started flight training, and I am eager to make my first solo flight. What is required of me before my instructor will finally let me go?

Answer: After you have received and logged training for the maneuvers and procedures specified in Federal Aviation Regulation 61.87, you must demonstrate proficiency and safety as judged by a certificated flight instructor. This not only involves maneuvers and procedures, but also passing a pre-solo written exam covering the applicable sections of the federal aviation regulations, airspace rules and procedures, and the training aircraft's characteristics and limitations. When the CFI is satisfied that you are proficient and safe, he or she will endorse your student pilot certificate for the specific make and model of aircraft to be flown and endorse your logbook certifying that appropriate instruction has been given for solo flight. Now you're free! You'll quickly see that solo flights can be just as educational as instructional flights. Read about pilot Gary Frisch's first solo flight.

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.

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