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The Aug. 7 Training Tip discussed differences between cloudless weather and clear weather and stressed staying alert for the hazard of unexpected restricted visibility in stable air masses. Those hazy conditions might also mask indications of even greater challenges ahead. Air mass thunderstorms developing as a result of surface heating may lie in wait along the route of flight, obscured from view. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Safety Advisor WeatherWise explains that air mass thunderstorms usually occur “on summer afternoons as a result of daytime heating. Usually isolated; you may be able to maneuver around them.” But you have to be able to see them first.
The approach of a fast-moving cold front that marks the boundary of the next large air mass to move into the region usually can be spotted from a distance because of the cloud forms it produces. But that hazard, too, could be concealed. “Prior to the passage of a typical cold front, cirriform or towering cumulus clouds are present, and cumulonimbus clouds are possible. Rain showers and haze are possible due to the rapid development of clouds,” explains Chapter 10 of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge . Keep checking on the weather, especially any pireps or convective sigmets (the topic of the July 24 Training Tip.)
A related caution: Don’t misjudge the clouds you can see on a hazy day. “Popcorn” cumulus clouds are one name given to fair-weather clouds that sprout when solar heating stirs up a stable air mass. They’re not usually cause for concern. But too much popcorn could be hazardous to your health. That was the lesson of one pilot’s “Never Again” encounter with seemingly innocent popcorn cumulus clouds that lived long and prospered one August afternoon in the Midwest.
How bad did that day’s weather become? “That night at a motel in Kankakee, we saw television news reports of devastating tornadoes in Indiana and Illinois that had occurred about the time that we were in the air and about 15 miles east of where we had been,” the pilot wrote of his memorable flight. Let his firsthand experience team up with your weather knowledge to keep you safe in summer’s haze.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Do you have a friend who is interested in learning to fly? Point your friend to AOPA Flight Training Online so that he or she can get off on the right foot. Prospective student pilots will find practical advice and insight by reading “ Choosing the right school.”
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.
Pilots who learn to fly at towered airports can be confused by procedures at nontowered fields—and vice versa. Regardless of where your comfort zone lies, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation has an interactive safety quiz for you. This week's new quiz tests your knowledge of nontowered airport operations, including traffic pattern procedures, radio communication, collision avoidance techniques, and more. See if you're up to the challenge, then check back later this month for a follow-up quiz on towered airport operations.
Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City last week took delivery of five new Cessna 172S Skyhawks for its aviation program. The community college now has six 2009 Skyhawks featuring the Garmin G1000 avionics program. The aviation program serves about 350 students each year and accumulates about 8,500 flight hours per year with a fleet of 12 aircraft.
The University of Tennessee Space Institute aviation systems program recently completed flight testing of a new sensor pod that will enable the program to conduct airborne science flight research, including environmental and climate science. The sensor pod was mounted on the belly of a Piper Navajo twin-engine aircraft. Its first mission will be to fly a large sensor that can measure surface temperature over land and water. Those tests will be conducted for the Earth Sciences Office of the NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
AirportFest offers fun for the family at AOPA Aviation Summit
Celebrate general aviation during AirportFest at AOPA’s Aviation Summit, Nov. 5 through 7, at Peter O. Knight Airport in Tampa, Fla. At AirportFest, you’ll be able to see the entire spectrum of GA aircraft, including vintage airplanes, helicopters, light sport aircraft, and more. Plus, we’ll have speakers giving presentations about vintage aircraft. Flight simulators will be on hand to give you some “stick time,” and you also will be able to build and fly model aircraft. Food, music, and events for children will also be available. Don’t miss it— sign up for AOPA Aviation Summit today!
Pilot turns to AOPA Insurance Agency to keep deductible low
William Bittner of New Jersey hadn’t filed an insurance claim in the 30 years he had been flying until last year, when the tail of his Cessna 172 was damaged while tied down at his local airport. “Although I had strong evidence of how it happened, no one stepped up to take responsibility,” said Bittner. The AOPA Insurance Agency was there to help cover all the repairs and waive the deductible—a benefit Bittner received with the AOPA Accident Forgiveness and Deductible Waiver Enhancement. It’s easy to qualify by completing the required AOPA Air Safety Foundation online courses and live safety seminars every six months. “This year, my insurance renewal came in over $200 higher than the previous year,” added Bittner. “So I contacted the AOPA Insurance Agency with further documentation of the online courses I completed, and the renewal increase was removed.” For more information, visit the Web site, or call 800/622-AOPA (2672).
New system awards instant Wings credit for safety courses
Like earning proficiency credit but hate jumping through bureaucratic hoops? Here's good news: Gone is the cumbersome, 12-step verification process for receiving FAA Wings credit for AOPA Air Safety Foundation online courses. A new system communicates with FAA servers in real time, awarding instant Wings credit for qualifying courses. Pilots need only click a button at the end of the course; confirmation is received by return e-mail. Most interactive safety courses can be completed in less than an hour, and progress is saved if you need to come back later. Your ASF Transcript keeps track of courses started or completed.
Flythepattern.com offers visual aids for unfamiliar airports
For pilots who want to know as much about an unfamiliar airport as possible before they launch, a new Web site aims to provide visual tools such as pattern videos, reporting point photos, and chart snippets. FlythePattern.com’s yearly membership fee of $15 provides access to airport data and diagrams, communications information, runway conditions, and current weather. The home page lets users “test fly” one of three California airports to see what’s offered. For more information, see the Web site.
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Question: What is the Airport Watch program all about, and how can I do my part?
Answer: AOPA has partnered with the Transportation Security Administration to develop a nationwide Airport Watch program that uses the more than 600,000 pilots in the United States as eyes and ears to observe and report suspicious activity. Airport Watch includes warning signs for airports, informational literature, and a training video to teach pilots and airport employees how to enhance security at their airports. Read more about the program and how to participate on AOPA Online.
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.
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 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; Baltimore, Md., and Richmond, Va., Sept. 19 and 20; Colorado Springs, Colo., and Seattle, Wash., Sept. 26 and 27. 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 Germantown, Tenn., Aug. 31; Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 1; Maryville, Tenn., Sept. 3; Wichita, Kan., and Morristown, N.J., Sept. 14; East Hartford, Conn., and Oklahoma City, Okla, Sept. 15; Rogers, Ark., and Newton, Mass., Sept. 16; Little Rock, Ark., and Manchester, N.H., Sept. 17. 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