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The air mass thunderstorms that may be hidden in the haze ahead (see the Aug. 14 “Training Tip: Concealed Convectives”) aren’t the only kinds of storms that can take you by surprise in flight. Also elusive, but a completely different variety of thunderstorm, are those that develop as embedded features of larger cloud masses.
It may seem unlikely that a weather phenomenon as imposing as a cumulonimbus buildup could remain concealed from view under conditions of good visibility, but don’t ignore the possibility that embedded thunderstorms are part of the weather package you face—especially in the vicinity of a front. Chapter 10 of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge explains, "These extensive vertical clouds can be obscured by other cloud formations and are not always visible from the ground or while in flight. When this happens, these clouds are said to be embedded, hence the term, embedded thunderstorms." Frontal conditions under which embedded thunderstorms may develop also imply other hazards such as freezing drizzle or rain (see the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Safety Advisor on aircraft icing).
The front is still a hundred miles away? Regardless, it’s important to evaluate whether it could affect flying along your route—especially if it is a fast-moving cold front. As Jack Williams discussed in the "Storming the Front" installment of his " The Weather Never Sleeps" column in AOPA Flight Training, "Cold fronts have steeper slopes and tend to push warm air up more violently than warm fronts. This helps create thunderstorms and showers ahead of and along the front. Pre-frontal squall lines are lines of strong thunderstorms that can be 100 or more miles ahead of cold fronts."
Suppose your weather briefer mentions that the front is "occluding." (Occlusions were the subject of the Sept. 26, 2003, Training Tip.) The specialist’s use of that term should get your attention. Williams wrote, "For pilots, the key consideration is that occluded fronts can bring the bad weather associated with cold and warm fronts—thunderstorms can be embedded in widespread areas of clouds."
Embedded thunderstorms, like air mass thunderstorms, are serious hazards that may appear with little warning. Stay alert, stay aware!
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Did you make a mistake during your last lesson? That’s OK. Mistakes are part of the learning process and help you to become a good pilot. It’s important to take a hard look at what caused the mistake and incorporate that lesson into your flying so that it doesn’t happen again. For more tips on how mistakes can actually benefit you, read Budd Davisson’s discussion in the September 2009 AOPA Flight Training .
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.
The federal aviation regulations do not permit training from a sport pilot instructor to be applied to meet the dual instruction requirements for a private pilot certificate, a recent letter of interpretation from the FAA chief counsel states. AOPA, the Experimental Aircraft Association, and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association continue to object to the rule as it stands, and advocate a change in the FAA’s upcoming bundle of modifications to the sport pilot rules. "This rule as written requires student pilots who want to transition from seeking a sport pilot certificate to a private pilot certificate to start over again with respect to the flight instruction requirement," said Rob Hackman, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs. Read more >>
US Flight Academy in Denton, Texas, had a record month in July for rental and training hours. The school logged 4,428 hours, of which 3,575 hours were attributed to its career pilot program. "It is difficult to remember that there is a recession in progress when someone wanders into the classrooms or pilot lounge at US Flight Academy," the school said in a news release. "The pre-flight and post-flight briefings seem endless." Certificates and ratings for sport through airline transport pilot are offered in fixed-wing aircraft, as well as training courses for rotary-wing aircraft.
K-State students get Cessna scholarships
Two Kansas State University Aviation students have received Cessna Leadership scholarships, the school announced. Justin McKnight, a senior majoring in aviation maintenance, has been awarded $2,000 for tuition or to obtain flight ratings. Samantha Scharff, a senior in the professional pilot program, was awarded $3,000. She will complete some flight training in the K-State King Air and earn copilot time in the King Air or K-State’s CitationJet. The scholarships are made possible by a gift from The Cessna Foundation, a private foundation that makes contributions on behalf of Cessna Aircraft Co.
Everett Community College gets Boeing 747 engine
The Boeing Co. has donated an engine from a 747 to the aviation maintenance technician school at Everett Community College in Everett, Wash. The Pratt & Whitney JTD9 will be used as a training tool for maintenance students. Everett’s aviation maintenance program started about 40 years ago and has more than 70 students, according to a report in the online HeraldNet.
Balloons lift off at AirportFest
Treat the whole family to a glimpse of the world of lighter-than-air flight this year at AirportFest during AOPA’s Aviation Summit, Nov. 5 through 7. Peter O. Knight Airport in Tampa, Fla., will be host to a hot air balloon fly-out and night glow during AirportFest. Watch the dazzling lights of balloons in the night sky at the night glow, one of the many activities at AirportFest giving you an opportunity to celebrate every aspect of aviation, from remote control airplanes to skydiving. Festivities will include vintage aircraft displays, food, music, and events for children. You can even arrive at AirportFest in style, cruising to the airport in a 110-foot water taxi on the bay. Shuttles also will be running between AirportFest and the Tampa Convention Center. Be a part of the future—sign up for AOPA Aviation Summit today!
Nearly three out of four runway incursions involve general aviation aircraft—and safety isn't the only casualty. Enforcement action due to incursions keeps the FAA's legal staff gainfully employed and can cause nightmares for otherwise safe pilots. Think it can't happen to you? Check out "Phone Home," the latest Pilot Safety Announcement (PSA) video from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation and the FAA Office of Runway Safety. When ATC gives you a phone number, you can bet it won't be a pleasant conversation.
Get the most from your AOPA WorldPoints credit card
If you already have an AOPA WorldPoints credit card from Bank of America, you know you’re automatically earning points for every dollar you spend. But are you getting the most from your card? Using your card for routine purchases such as groceries, gasoline, and even monthly utility bills can help maximize your rewards. And be sure to put all your aviation purchases on your AOPA card because you’ll earn double points for purchases at more than 4,600 FBOs and select aviation retailers. Don’t forget to use your card when you renew your AOPA membership, buy tickets to AOPA Aviation Summit, or sign up for the Legal Services Plan—all transactions that will earn you double points. A percentage of every dollar you spend comes back to AOPA to help keep general aviation strong, at no cost to you. Read more >>
Attorney/pilot relies on AOPA Legal Services Plan
Christopher Piety, an attorney and pilot from San Carlos, Calif., recognized that he needed assistance in navigating the complexity of the U.S. Code and its application to pilots for compliance and to defend himself if he needed to. "What research I have done and what I learned from the AOPA articles by John and Kathy Yodice, the FAA enforcement system does not give pilots the usual constitutional due process rights and hearing procedures fundamental to our civil and criminal systems. That means a pilot must know how to handle him- or herself correctly the first time, or risk losing the privilege we all work hard for," said Piety. For that reason, he is enrolled in the AOPA Legal Services Plan, which makes aviation legal assistance and representation available to him as an AOPA member. The plan provides members with services they may need, no matter how infrequently they fly—like reviewing their hangar, tie-down, and lease agreements. For more information or to enroll, see the Web site or call 800/USA-AOPA (800/872-2672).
Inadvertent IMC training for helicopter pilots
FlightSafety International has expanded the number of locations that offer its "Surviving Inadvertent IMC" training program for helicopter pilots. The training is available at FlightSafety’s Learning Centers in Fort Worth, Texas; Tucson, Ariz.; Lafayette, La.; and West Palm Beach, Fla. The course is designed to help helicopter pilots avoid, prepare for, or recover from inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions. It is non-aircraft specific and includes ground and simulator sessions. For more information, see the Web site.
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: I recently completed my private pilot training and all my time so far has been in a Cessna 172. I would like to rent a Piper Warrior at my flight school. My CFI says to plan on at least a two-hour checkout flight. What is the minimum amount of time the FAA requires for a checkout flight?
Answer: Believe it or not, the FAA does not require any rental checkout flight. It is certainly a good idea to become familiar with a new airplane, however, and AOPA recommends all pilots get a checkout from a competent flight instructor when transitioning to a new airplane. Most likely, your flight school’s insurance policy requires the school to perform a rental checkout flight. A pilot writes about the challenges he faced during a rental checkout in an aircraft he was familiar with—but at an airport far from home with a CFI he’d never met—and offers tips to smooth the checkout experience in this article from AOPA Flight Training .
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.
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Shaping aviation’s future
AOPA Aviation Summit, Nov. 5 through 7, in Tampa, Fla., will give you an unmatched opportunity to exchange ideas with the key industry and government leaders whose decisions are shaping general aviation’s future at a pivotal time in our history. Many of the world’s top aircraft and avionics manufacturers, as well as policymakers, will take part in the three-day conference, and you will have a rare chance to influence the debate on vital topics such as user fees, airport security, and the future air traffic control system—all of which directly affect our freedom to fly. Plus, you’ll be able to learn valuable lessons from pilots with decades of flight experience. Read more >>
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 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