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| Training Tips |
When you call for a preflight weather briefing, information about the height of cloud bases and the extent of cloud cover helps you make your go/no-go decision, as discussed in the Feb. 29 Training Tip "What's the ceiling."
What about cloud tops? Flying above cloud layers is not routine for student pilots-and the federal aviation regulations prohibit it "when the flight cannot be made with visual reference to the surface." Yet many pilots hoping for a complete weather picture ask how to find information about cloud tops.
"But that's precisely the problem. There's alarmingly little information on the altitudes of the tops of cloud layers," Thomas A. Horne wrote in the December 2000 AOPA Pilot column "Wx Watch: Tops Troubles." "For all the meteorological advances in recent decades, apparently very little effort has been put into technologies that could help us in this regard. So for the near future, anyway, we're left to rely on just a few sources of information about tops," including area forecasts, radar summary charts, satellite imagery, atmospheric soundings, and pilot reports (pireps).
An area forecast (FA) is the most familiar of these resources. Cloud top information found in the fourth section of an FA is general. That's because the FA "gives a picture of clouds, general weather conditions, and visual meteorological conditions (VMC) expected over a large area encompassing several states," explains Chapter 10 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.
Pireps help, but Horne offered this reminder: "Pireps promise the most accuracy, but please check the dates and times of any pireps. It's not unusual for pireps to be a day old, yet still be posted. The problem with pireps is that most pilots never make them, so we are deprived of good cloud-top information by some of the best weather observers in the world."
Why is flying VFR above clouds discouraged for the inexperienced pilot? One risk is becoming trapped above a scattered or broken cloud cover that unexpectedly closes up to solid overcast. But even when breaks remain, pilots have encountered spatial disorientation and lost control during descent, as documented in this accident analysis. Steering well clear of all clouds remains the best bet.
| Your Partner in Training |
Perhaps you began your training last summer and spent some time on the ground thanks to the winter weather. But now you're back up in the air, accumulating the hours and experience you need to take your private pilot checkride. Or perhaps you're just beginning your training, but you're already nervous about the checkride. The FAA's Private Pilot Practical Test Standards (PTS) tells you everything you must be able to do on your checkride, and you can download the PTS from AOPA Flight Training Online. While you're there, check out the section devoted to preparing for the flight test.
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 |
'AOPA FLIGHT TRAINING' WANTS YOUR SOLO PHOTOS
Have you soloed? Was it a great day, a scary time, or a little of both? AOPA Flight Training is preparing a feature article about this important flying milestone for the June 2008 issue, and we need your photos. E-mail a .jpg attachment with your contact information and a brief description of that special day.
JACKSONVILLE UNIVERSITY PROGRAM GETS ACCREDITATION
The aviation program at Jacksonville University (JU), Jacksonville, Fla., has earned a stamp of approval from a national accrediting organization. The Aviation Accreditation Board International has accredited JU's Bachelor of Science degrees in aviation management and aviation management and flight operations. JU President Kerry Romesburg said the achievement "increases the attractiveness of our program to prospective students and their parents, as well as ensures employers that our students possess a broad range of skills needed for aviation specializations." JU is among the first 30 universities in the nation to have accredited aviation programs.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY-CARBONDALE TO HOST CAREER DAYS
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (SIUC) will host two aviation career days for area high school students in April. On Saturday, April 12, a corporate/general aviation career event will include tours of SIUC Aviation's training facilities in Carbondale-Murphysboro, Ill., briefings by pilots and mechanics, tours of corporate and GA aircraft, lunch, and a campus tour. On Saturday, April 26, SIUC and United Airlines will co-host a career day for high school students in the Chicago area who are interested in aviation. This event, which will be at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, includes a flight to SIUC and a tour of the campus and aviation facilities. For more information, see the Web site.
| Inside AOPA |
CURING THOSE CLASS BRAVO JITTERS
Does Class B airspace make you jittery? You're not alone. This busiest class of airspace intimidates many pilots—not just students. But flying in Class B doesn't have to be daunting. Proper planning and an understanding of standard procedures can build confidence, and soon ATC will be saying, "Bravo!" Start by putting your knowledge to the test with this Class B airspace Safety Quiz from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation—no clearance required. To learn even more about navigating today's airspace, take the foundation's free Know Before You Go online course or check out the Airspace for Everyone Safety Advisor.
MAKE SURE YOU'RE INSURED BEFORE YOUR FIRST SPRING FLIGHT
Now that spring is here and summer on its way, more pilots will be taking to the skies. The cost of aircraft renter's insurance has been reduced for AOPA members, thanks to the efforts of AOPA and the AOPA Insurance Agency. AOPA members receive a 5-percent discount on new renter's insurance policies, allowing members to obtain a comprehensive policy for as little as $175. Read more on AOPA Online.
NEW POWER FOR A 'NEW' AIRPLANE
Work on AOPA's 2008 Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Piper Archer is well under way with both the paint and interior completely finished. As Penn Avionics in West Chester, Pa., begins work on the new glass cockpit, we wanted to reflect on one important piece not yet mentioned: the engine. There is perhaps no more important safety consideration for an airplane than its engine. That's why we've chosen one of the nation's best overhaul shops. Find out more in this week's update on 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 |
ZD PUBLISHING OFFERS GARMIN G1000W MANUAL
ZD Publishing recently released a new pilot manual for the Garmin G1000W glass cockpit system. The manual covers all functions of the integrated electronic flight information system, including the autopilot, navigation information, datalink, and systems pages. The manual sells for $54.95 and can be ordered online or by calling 888/310-3134.
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: What is the minimum altitude I must fly when I'm flying locally?
Answer: The minimum altitude anywhere is an altitude allowing you to make an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface if a power unit fails. A minimum distance of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle and 2,000 feet horizontally is required over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement or over any open-air gathering of people. Over other-than-congested areas, you must remain a minimum of 500 feet above the surface, unless over open water or sparsely populated areas. In that case, the aircraft must be operated no less than 500 feet from any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
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. |
| What's New at AOPA Online |
Student pilots learn early that you don't want to taxi a small airplane anywhere near a large, heavy aircraft that is doing an engine runup. The pilot of a Kitfox—a two-seat experimental airplane—thought he was out of harm's way when he decided to taxi 40 feet away from a King Air parked close to the apron. Then the Kitfox's door blew off. Read what happened in this week's Never Again Online.
| Weekend Weather |
| ePilot Calendar |
UPCOMING FLYING DESTINATIONS:
Punta Gorda, Fla. The Florida Aviation Expo takes place March 15 and 16 at Charlotte County (PGD). For more information, contact Carlos Gray, 239/989-1109, or visit the Web site.
Sellersburg, Ind. The 2008 Indiana Aviation Safety Seminar for Ultralight, Sport, and Experimental Aircraft takes place March 15 at Ivy Tech Community College. For more information, contact David Graves, 812/216-3106, or visit the Web site.
Orono, Maine. The second part of the two-part seminar "Advanced Navigation Equipment and Techniques" takes place March 19 at the University of Maine-Orono. For more information, contact Michael Lessard, 207/422-3015, or visit the Web site.
West Des Moines, Iowa. The 2008 Severe Storms and Doppler Radar Conference takes place March 20 through 22 at the West Des Moines Sheraton. Contact Rodney Donavon, 515/270-4501, 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 Clinic is scheduled in Reston, Va., April 5 and 6. 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 Rosemont, Ill., and Morristown, N.J., March 31. The topic is "Top 5 Mistakes Pilots Make." There is also a seminar scheduled in Newton, Mass., March 18. The topic is "Technically Advanced Aircraft." For details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.