The following stories from the April 24, 2009, 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.
You are flying outbound to the practice area, solo, to polish up your flight-test maneuvers. You familiarized yourself with the minimum-altitude regulations that apply over congested and uncongested areas as discussed in last week’s “Training Tip.” And you know the boundaries of the block of airspace designated as the practice area for training flights, as discussed in the Nov. 12, 2004, “ Training Tip: Student Practice Areas.”
While you should always keep those rules in mind, some maneuvers are more likely to bring you close to low-altitude limits than others. For example, the private pilot Practical Test Standards require you to plan your ground reference maneuvers (S-turns, turns around a point, and the rectangular course) “so as to enter left or right at 600 to 1,000 feet (180 to 300 meters) agl.” Each maneuver must also be positioned “at an appropriate distance from the reference”—so don’t cramp the maneuver laterally to maintain required clearances from any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure. A double penalty awaits the unwary: Exceeding allowable altitude deviations for the maneuver on the low side would be disqualifying on a flight test and could violate minimum-altitude regulations.
Other maneuvers, such as slow flight and stalls, provide more altitude leeway, but still carry risk of busting the minimums. Here, you must select an entry altitude “that allows the task to be completed no lower than 1,500 feet (460 meters) agl.” Chances are, however, that your instructor will insist that you perform those maneuvers considerably higher than that, for the extra safety margin.
An incident discussed in the December 2001 AOPA Flight Training "Accident Analysis" column, serves as an object lesson for any pilot doing “low work” during training. The incident referenced was a dual training mission to work on ground reference maneuvers that resulted in low flight over a home—and a call to air traffic control—when the addition of a simulated emergency to the flight became a distraction. The incident also stands as a reminder to solo students and their instructors of the command responsibility a pilot accepts on every flight, from brief local outings to long cross-countries.
‘Flight Instructor Notebook’ from Qref
Qref, known for its slick series of spiral-bound checklists for avionics and GPS units, now brings to the training field a tool to help aspiring flight instructors pass the CFI checkride. The 322-page book, written by Bridgette Doremire with Gene Hudson, includes private and commercial pilot syllabi, task topic lesson plans for both certificates, a sample pre-solo written test with answers, a checkride/flight review study guide with answers, and more. The book costs $49.95; the private and commercial lesson plans can be purchased and downloaded separately for $14.95 each. Order online or call 877/660-QREF.