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AOPA ePilot Custom ContentAOPA ePilot Custom Content

The following stories from the March 7, 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
A sample question from the private pilot knowledge test question bank asks: "When departing behind a heavy aircraft, the pilot should avoid wake turbulence by maneuvering the aircraft

A) below and downwind from the heavy aircraft.

B) above and upwind from the heavy aircraft.

C) below and upwind from the heavy aircraft.

How did you answer that question? Read the Jan. 24, 2003, "Training Tip" about wake turbulence and then talk to your instructor or e-mail AOPA's aviation experts to see if you answered correctly. Have you had practical experience with this situation? Pilots who fly from airports served by airliners and other large aircraft deal with wake turbulence on a daily basis.

When clearing you for takeoff or landing, the tower controller may add to your clearance the phrase "Caution wake turbulence" from the preceding arrival or departure. Although it may seem obvious to the pilot of a single-engine trainer that the preceding aircraft is heavy, the use of the term has special significance, as explained in Chapter 7 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM): "For purposes of Wake Turbulence Separation Minima, ATC classifies aircraft as Heavy, Large, and Small as follows: Heavy-Aircraft capable of takeoff weights of more than 255,000 pounds whether or not they are operating at this weight during a particular phase of flight. Large-Aircraft of more than 41,000 pounds maximum certificated takeoff weight, up to 255,000 pounds. Small-Aircraft of 41,000 pounds or less maximum certificated takeoff weight."

Considering those definitions, the AIM describes aircraft separation requirements: "Because of the possible effects of wake turbulence, controllers are required to apply no less than specified minimum separation for aircraft operating behind a heavy jet and, in certain instances, behind large nonheavy aircraft (i.e., B757 aircraft)," as Elizabeth A. Tennyson explains in the AOPA Flight Training May 2001 column "Aviation Speak: Heavy."

If you find yourself facing wake turbulence on departure, you may choose to ask the tower to approve an early turn (upwind of the wake's probable drift track) when altitude permits after takeoff. Make this request when you contact the tower for your takeoff clearance. Don't wait until you are airborne, when traffic concerns or frequency congestion can delay approval.

Stay alert to hearing the word heavy on the ATC frequency!

My ePilot - Training Product
AOPA Flight Training readers are familiar with meteorologist Jack Williams' down-to-earth explanations of weather concepts that appear in his monthly column, "The Weather Never Sleeps." Now available from Sporty's is the second edition of Williams' The Weather Book. Subtitled "An easy-to-understand guide to the USA's weather," the book aims to help the reader understand the science behind the weather that pilots fly. New to this edition are sections dealing with global warming, discoveries that are making flying safer, and a discussion of how more hurricanes could hit the United States in coming years. The soft-cover 227-page book sells for $22.95 and may be ordered online or by calling 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 - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: My student pilot certificate expires after 24 calendar months, but my third class medical won't expire for 36 calendar months because I'm under age 40. What should I do since my medical and student pilot certificates are on the same piece of paper and one will expire before the other?

Answer: The initial student pilot certificate is usually on the reverse side of the medical certificate, so it's typical for student pilots under the age of 40 to face a situation similar to yours. If you haven't earned your private pilot certificate by the termination date of your student pilot certificate privileges, don't worry. Your medical certificate is valid for the next 12 calendar months or until its date of expiration. Simply request a new student pilot certificate from a designated pilot examiner or your local FAA flight standards district office. The FAA will provide you with a stand-alone student pilot certificate so that you may continue your training. Make sure to plan in advance because FAR 61.11 restricts pilots from the privileges of that certificate or rating upon its expiration.

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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