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‘CTAF’ doesn’t mean uncontrolled
Any pilot who thinks that operations at an airport without an operating control tower are uncomplicated because air traffic control is absent quickly finds out otherwise. The lesson doesn’t always come easily. A decision you make about how to come and go at a nontowered airport may even subject you to on-air comment from a fellow pilot. Fair or unfair, you’ll learn from the experience. But stay focused on your flying. Revisit the situation or seek advice after you are safely back on the ground.
You learned that communications at an airport without an operating control tower are carried out on a designated frequency: the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF). The Aeronautical Information Manual offers this description: “A CTAF is a frequency designated for the purpose of carrying out airport advisory practices while operating to or from an airport without an operating control tower. The CTAF may be a UNICOM, MULTICOM, FSS, or tower frequency and is identified in appropriate aeronautical publications.”
Basic procedures are straightforward: “Pilots of inbound traffic should monitor and communicate as appropriate on the designated CTAF from 10 miles to landing. Pilots of departing aircraft should monitor/communicate on the appropriate frequency from start-up, during taxi, and until 10 miles from the airport unless the CFRs (FARs) or local procedures require otherwise.” Making those broadcasts is known as the “self-announce” method, employing standard phraseology, of which examples are provided. The chapter also discourages certain radio practices that have entered use at some airports. For example: “Pilots stating, ‘Traffic in the area, please advise’ is not a recognized Self-Announce Position and/or Intention phrase and should not be used under any condition,” it says.
Occasionally someone goes a bit rogue in the pattern, endangering others. What happens then? In his blog entry titled “ Turkey of a pattern,” AOPA Air Safety Foundation President Bruce Landsberg described witnessing such an occurrence, and discussed how he reacted after spotting an unsafe maneuver. His blog generated lively discussion in the AOPA Aviation Forum.
But don’t think radios can solve all conflicts at nontowered airports. Stay watchful for your fellow pilots flying no-radio aircraft (see the September 3, 2004, “ Training Tip”). They’re your aviation partners too—and they rely on your vigilance to help keep everyone safe.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Chances are flying has taken a bit of a back seat recently to the stresses of the holiday season. To stay sharp and engaged during the time off, try learning from the mistakes of others and reviewing the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s online accident database. Unfortunately aviation accidents can and do happen, so it’s important to know what some of the common factors are to be able to avoid them. The foundation’s database is a study in what not to do in airplanes, which brings good lessons for us all.
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.
Four Cessna Pilot Centers (CPCs) have gained approval under FAR Part 41 to use a new sport/private pilot training curriculum, Cessna announced Dec. 14. The four flight schools are Air Fleet Training Systems Inc., Fairfield, N.J.; Pensacola Aviation Center, Pensacola, Fla.; Snohomish Flying Service, Snohomish, Wash.; and Trade Winds Aviation (doing business as Skyworks Inc.), San Jose, Calif. The new curriculum, announced in September, was developed in conjunction with King Schools Inc. The Web-based system keeps track of every aspect of a pilot’s training, and updates can be made instantly. Instructors can customize the program to meet the requirements of the local training environment.
Remos Aircraft announced Dec. 10 that it has received a significant capital infusion from its investors that will strengthen the company going into 2010. The German manufacturer of light sport aircraft, a privately held company, had filed a proceeding known as a “notice of insolvency” earlier this month. The action was necessary because of a German law that requires businesses to notify the courts of possible financial problems. The notice pertained only to the company’s manufacturing arm, based in Pasewalk, and did not affect its sales or flight training networks in the United States. Read more >>
In Saudi Arabia women aren’t allowed to drive cars, and they certainly aren’t allowed to fly. But Nawal Alhawsawi, a native of the conservative country, has broken the barriers and become one of the first Saudi women to earn a pilot certificate in the United States. Alhawsawi, a former journalist in her home country, met a U.S. soldier and emigrated to America, where she eventually made her dreams come true and took flight. “It's just like I imagined,” she said. “When you go up there, in the middle of the clouds, and see the whole Earth below you, it's just so beautiful. I get the same feeling of joy and excitement every time I take off.”
Test your knowledge of airport signs
When you head out on a cross-country to a new airport, know the signs that will guide you from runway to ramp. Airport signs and pavement markings can be tricky, especially at larger airports, but the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Runway Safety Flash Cards, provided courtesy of the foundation and the FAA Office of Runway Safety, can help you better understand the markings that help keep you safe and out of the way of other aircraft on the ground. The front of each card displays an airport sign or pavement marking, while the back provides a description and information on the required pilot action. Feeling confident? Test your knowledge of airport signage and taxi procedures with an AOPA Air Safety Foundation safety quiz.
Become a fan of ‘AOPA Flight Training’ magazine
Maybe you already subscribe to AOPA Flight Training magazine and read it every month. But are you a fan? Log on to Facebook and join the conversation happening every day on the AOPA Flight Training magazine fan page. Now you can even upload a photo from that special flight training moment and tell a short story about why it’s important to you. We’ll publish some in upcoming issues of the magazine. So log on and interact directly with AOPA Flight Training today.
Online course helps you ‘say it right’
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has a cure for a case of ‘mic fright.’ The foundation’s interactive course Say It Right: Mastering Radio Communication can help you communicate properly, efficiently, and effectively from the cockpit. It covers the role of miscommunication in accidents, provides interactive exercises and real-world audio samples, offers an optional track for IFR pilots, and shares valuable insights from ATC, including an amusing video confession that reveals the most misused word in aviation.
No hotel change or cancel fees with AOPA Online Travel
Take the worry out of travel. Book through AOPA Online Travel and take advantage of the “No Change or Cancel Fees” offer on hotels. Travel changes can and do happen, and you shouldn’t be penalized for it. The AOPA Online Travel program, powered by Orbitz, offers increased flexibility if your travel plans change. Plus, a portion of all the revenue generated is returned to AOPA, which allows the association to continue its efforts to maintain the freedom, safety, and affordability of general aviation. Book your hotel today.
Wildfire collapsible bicycle
Ever wonder how you’ll get from the airport into town for lunch when you land on a long cross-country? Sometimes there are courtesy cars, but why not make your own plans and travel with the Wildfire collapsible bicycle? The bicycle fits into the back of an airplane, has an electric motor for pedal assist or full operation, and best of all, you get a tax credit. Read More >>
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 best way to remove frost or ice from my airplane?
Answer: If you are not pressed for time, have your flight school or FBO put the airplane in a heated hangar for an hour or so to allow accumulated ice to melt off. Deicing fluid can be used if you need to get the job done quickly and don’t mind spending a few dollars. Be sure to check your aircraft’s pilot’s operating handbook to determine the correct type of fluid and application guidelines. For additional insight, take a look at the winter flying subject report from the AOPA Pilot Information Center.
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 calendar 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 San Jose, Calif., Baltimore, Md., and Detroit, Mich., Jan. 9 and 10; Costa Mesa, Calif., Jackson, Miss., and Charlotte, N.C., Jan. 16 and 17; San Antonio, Texas, and Seattle, Wash., Jan. 23 and 24; Rochester, N.Y., Portland, Ore., and Sevierville, Tenn., Jan. 30 and 31. 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 Mesa, Ariz., and Reno, Nev., Jan. 11; Tucson, Ariz., and Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 12; Milpitas, Calif., Jan. 13; Santa Rosa, Calif., Jan. 14; San Diego, Calif., Jan. 25; Costa Mesa, Calif., Jan. 26; Ontario, Calif., Jan. 27; Burbank, Calif., Jan. 28; Little Rock, Ark., Feb. 1. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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Editorial Team : ePilot Flight Training Editor : Ian Twombly | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton Marsh