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The following stories from the June 13, 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 - Student Interest, Training Tips

SIDE LOADS
The landing gear on your trainer is pretty tough. It has to be to withstand those long hours in the traffic pattern while you are learning how to take off and land. That said, even the toughest components of an aircraft have definite limits to their tolerance for abuse. Your trainer's landing gear is at its most vulnerable when it has to cope with something called a side load. Any time the wheels can't roll in the direction that the airplane is being forced to move while on the ground, a side load is imposed on the gear assembly. The result could be pilot loss of control, airframe damage, or an accident.

The most likely time for a severe side load to occur is during landing-especially if the aircraft is not under complete directional control during a crosswind landing. "Touching down while in a drift can cause damaging side loads on the tires, wheels, and landing gear-not to mention you and the airplane, if it results in a loss of control," wrote Chris Parker in the April 2006 AOPA Flight Training feature " Crosswind Tutorial." The importance of avoiding side loads is one reason why the Private Pilot Practical Test Standards for normal and crosswind landings strictly requires that the pilot touch down "with no drift, and with the airplane's longitudinal axis aligned with and over the runway center/landing path."

If you are already working on crosswind takeoffs and landings, you know that two techniques are commonly taught: the crabbed approach and the sideslipped approach. (See the Dec. 28, 2001, Training Tip: "Practicing Crosswind Landings" and the March 7, 2003, Training Tip: "Crosswinds-Again!". Both methods, improperly executed, can result in critical side loads. Six great strategies for mastering directional control are offered in the April 2007 AOPA Pilot feature " Flying Seasons: Crabbing, Slipping, and Bouncing" (see the sidebar for highlights). Other times when the aircraft is vulnerable to side loads include takeoff runs and while taxiing, especially if a taxi turn is attempted with excessive speed.

Bottom line: Eliminate side loads from your takeoffs and touchdowns, and you'll never drift into trouble when tangling with tricky winds.

My ePilot - Training Product
OVERCASTERS VIEW-LIMITING DEVICE FROM ASA
When it's time to learn how to fly by reference to instruments only, a view-limiting device is the first thing you'll need. They come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. If you wear corrective lenses, Overcasters from Aviation Supplies and Academics (ASA) are designed to clip right on to your glasses (or your sunglasses). The eight-ounce plastic lenses can be flipped up when you transition back to visual flying. ASA says Overcasters are widely accepted by FAA examiners for use in practical tests and checkrides; check with your local examiner to see if he or she has a preference. Overcasters sell for $19.95 and can be ordered from ASA or other pilot supply retailers.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: When must an alternate airport be specified in an IFR flight plan?

Answer: According to FAR 91.169, an alternate airport must be filed if one hour before until one hour after the estimated time of arrival, the forecast ceiling is less than 2,000 feet above the airport elevation, and the forecast visibility is less than three statute miles. This rule is commonly referred to as the "1-2-3 Rule." To learn more about selecting an alternate, read " Precise but Flexible Flying: The Practicals of Alternates and Minimums" in the AOPA Pilot "Instrument Insights" series.

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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