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Cloudless, not clear
It’s a cloudless summer day as you review the weather and prepare to fly. But is it a clear day? The large, stable air masses typical of summer highs can pose other problems. Check for clues. You may see something like this excerpt from a terminal aerodrome forecast: KBGR 291522Z 2915/3012 19008KT 5SM HZ SCT080. The TAF forecasts five miles visibility in haze (HZ) even though the only clouds expected are scattered at 8,000 feet.
Frequently, summer haze is caused by temperature inversions. “Inversion layers are commonly shallow layers of smooth, stable air close to the ground. The temperature of the air increases with altitude to a certain point, which is the top of the inversion. The air at the top of the layer acts as a lid, keeping weather and pollutants trapped below. If the relative humidity of the air is high, it can contribute to the formation of clouds, fog, haze, or smoke, resulting in diminished visibility in the inversion layer,” according to Chapter 10 of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge .
Occasionally, distant sources may lower visibility in ways that that don’t fit your picture of the weather. Check pilot reports and don’t be caught off guard. “At one point the atmosphere seemed to close around us so tightly that I experienced spatial disorientation and had to refer to the instruments to maintain straight-and-level flight,” wrote a pilot about an encounter with restricted visibility that turned out to be caused by smoke from distant forest fires. (See the November 2008 AOPA Flight Training “ Learning Experiences” column.)
Another characteristic of hazy conditions is that they tend to be of long duration. “To put it simply, haze is caused by stagnant air—air with no place to go. This stagnation is most often caused by one or more of the following: an inversion, a warm front, or a blockage of an air mass,” Thomas A. Horne wrote in “Wx Watch: Hazy Days.”
The lesson: “No clouds” doesn’t always mean “no weather.” Stay alert to what’s out there when you fly.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
No person will be more influential in nurturing your desire to fly than your first flight instructor. A good flight instructor will make the flight training process enjoyable while teaching you the intricacies of flight at a pace that is suitable to your schedule and level of learning. Begin your research by reviewing the AOPA Flight Training magazine archives for helpful articles on selecting an instructor. To find an instructor in your area, go to our searchable database of flight instructors.
Did you know that student pilots who join AOPA are three times more likely to complete their flight training? Membership includes unlimited access to aviation information by phone (800/USA-AOPA, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time) or from AOPA Flight Training Online or AOPA Online. If you're not already a member, join today and get the pilot's edge. Login information is available online.
“When you learn something new, you become something new,” aviation author, humorist, and flight instructor Rod Machado told a standing-room-only crowd Aug. 1 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. Flying is wonderful because you can do so much, he said. Machado, a contributing editor of AOPA Flight Training and AOPA Pilot magazines, described the flight training process and offered tips on saving time and ensuring a successful, rewarding training experience. Read more >>
A retired teacher who is a paraplegic recently earned his sport pilot certificate with the help of a Florida flight school. First Landings Aviation of Orlando trained Craig McGarvey in McGarvey’s Rans S-12. The S-12, which is an Experimental pusher-style aircraft, had been modified to include a stick for the rudder/nosewheel, which allowed McGarvey to operate it strictly via hand controls as a light sport aircraft.
Epic Flight Academy in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., is training a group of pilots from Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA), an air transfer operator in the Republic of Maldives. TMA operates a fleet of Twin Otters used to transport passengers from island to island within the country’s 26 atolls. When the pilots complete their training they will return to the Maldives with commercial multiengine flight certificates with seaplane ratings.
Aviation Education Expo gets grant from Wolf Aviation Fund
AOPA, ProJet Aviation, and new corporate sponsor, FlightSafety International, recently announced that the fourth annual Aviation Education Expo has been awarded a grant from the 2009 Alfred L. and Constance C. Wolf Fund Grant. The grant was established to provide funding to the most promising individuals and worthy projects that advance the field of general aviation. Read more >>
Aviation Summit: The fall event for pilots
Plan for one last great flying adventure before the winter months: Head to AOPA Aviation Summit in Tampa, Fla., Nov. 5 through 7. If you’re flying in for Summit and recently purchased an aircraft, the special AOPA Summit exemption to the Florida use tax probably applies to you! ( See AOPA Online for details.) So, register today and plan your stay in Tampa for Summit.
Which simulators can save you money?
Looking for an affordable way to stay current or work toward new ratings and certificates? Consider flight training devices. For example, if you used all allowable simulator time for every rating from private through ATP, you’d have saved nearly 100 hours of actual flight time. Read more >>
AOPA partners with Enterprise Rent-A-Car
AOPA has partnered with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Providing service to more FBOs and airports that serve general aviation than any other rental car company in the industry, Enterprise and its slogan, “From your wings to our wheels,” is well known to GA pilots, making the partnership a natural fit. AOPA members receive a 5-percent discount on Enterprise’s low rates; courteous and personalized customer service; and free enrollment in Enterprise Plus, a program that offers faster reservations and rentals. In turn, each rental will support GA. A portion of all the revenue generated will be returned to AOPA and reinvested to support our daily advocacy efforts to maintain the freedom, safety, and affordability of GA. Visit Enterprise’s Web site, designed specifically for AOPA members, to reserve your car, or call 866/315-9155 and mention discount code AOPAP9.
SoftSeat portable seat cushion from Oregon Aero
If you’re struggling with landings and just can’t seem to get the sight picture on final, it may be that you need a boost. Oregon Aero offers its SoftSeat portable seat cushion in a variety of configurations. You can purchase a base cushion that will raise you, a lumbar-support cushion that will scoot you closer to the rudder pedals, or a combination set. Cushions come in thicknesses ranging from a half-inch to two inches. Prices start at $51 for the lumbar support cushion. See the Web site or call 800/888-6910.
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.
Question: What is the correct frequency to use if I want to chat with a friend who is flying in the practice area, air to air? Some pilots use 123.45 MHz, and others say not to use that.
Answer: The frequency 123.45 MHz is used for air-to-air communications over remote and oceanic areas out of range of VHF ground stations. According to FAA Order 6050.32B, 122.75 MHz is the correct air-to-air communications frequency for fixed-wing aircraft.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail [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.
what's new online
For those who attended EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., last week, two of the biggest highlights were watching the Airbus A380 and WhiteKnightTwo perform demonstration flights. AOPA Online was there and captured it on video. See the flights for yourself in “ Peek inside the A380” and “ Space travel for the (rich) masses."
Pilots love to take photos, and they love to share them with other pilots. Now you can upload your flying photos to our online gallery, "Air Mail." Share your special aviation images, or view and rate more than 2,000 photos and counting. Highly rated photos will get put into rotation on the AOPA home page!
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER
Want something to do this weekend? Planning an aviation getaway? See your personalized online calendar of events . We've enhanced our calendar so that with one click you can see all of the events listed in the regions you selected when personalizing ePilot . Now you can browse events listed two weeks to a few months out to make your planning easier. You can also bookmark the personalized calender page to check it as often as you want. Before you take off on an adventure, make sure you check our current aviation weather provided by Jeppesen.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Costa Mesa, Calif., Atlanta, Ga., and Champaign, Ill., Aug. 15 and 16; Reno, Nev., and Allentown, Pa., Aug. 22 and 23; Fort Worth, Texas, Aug. 29 and 30; Phoenix, Ariz., and Sacramento, Calif., Sept. 12 and 13. 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 Torrance, Calif., Aug. 17; Germantown, Tenn., Aug. 31; Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 1; Maryville, Tenn., Sept. 3. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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Editorial Team : ePilot Flight Training Editor : Jill Tallman | ePilot Editor: Alyssa Miller | Contributor: Alton Marsh