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The following stories from the December 25, 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.


Aviation wish lists

When you made the decision to take on the challenge of learning to fly, personal comfort and serenity weren’t the first notions that came to mind. But cockpit comfort and a relaxed state of mind accelerate learning. And because you spend considerable time outside during winter months performing preflight inspections, comfort counts there too, helping get preflight chores done effectively and thwarting temptation to skip details.


If your wish list still has unchecked items after the holidays, take those new gift certificates and address your needs yourself. From coping with cold to creating clearer communications (with your instructor and on the radio) a comfortable pilot trainee makes better progress than one who is cold, cramped, or confused. So make sure you have a warm pair of gloves for your winter preflights, and check out other products that can improve your comfort year-round.


You may have noticed, as one of the oldest sayings in aviation proclaims, that a crowded, noisy cockpit is not the ideal classroom. Using a headset to improve communications makes a night-and-day difference. “An aviation headset often is one of the first major purchases that a student pilot makes—and one of the most important. Headsets not only promote more effective communication, but they also provide invaluable hearing protection,” explains the AOPA Flight Training Headset Buyer’s Guide. Check out this resource page on AOPA Flight Training Online for other gadgets and gear that could ease your passage.


Not all the items on a student pilot’s wish list are tangibles. The holiday break is a good time to raise any questions you have about your progress. Do you feel the need for a second opinion about your skills, or a stage (phase) check? (Jill Tallman discusses this idea in the June 2004 AOPA Flight Training .) That’s a perfectly fair request, as Rod Machado explained to a doubting student in the May 2007 AOPA Flight TrainingSince You Asked” column.


Some trainees worry that they sometimes get butterflies. The presence of uneasiness in the stomach is experienced sometimes by all pilots. Not a bad thing, as Richard Hiner confides in the magazine’s June 2005 Instructor Report.


Take stock, and then move forward! Happy holidays from all your pilot friends at AOPA.


Flyboys IFR/VFR Kneeboard

A good kneeboard is a must-have item in flight training. The Flyboys IFR/VFR Kneeboard from Marv Golden features eyelets for securing checklists, charts, flight plans, and anything else you might need to have handy. There are pockets for items that need to be found quickly and pen slots so one is always handy. According to Marv Golden, these kneeboards have been used by the military extensively, so their quality is well established. It sells for $31.95.


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: When looking at a sectional chart, why do some lakes have dashed blue borders and others have solid blue borders?


Answer: A shoreline marked by a dashed blue line indicates a fluctuating shoreline. Seasonal variations may cause lake or pond levels to rise and fall. When planning a flight over or near such a line, pilots should be aware that the actual shoreline and overall shape of the lake or pond may vary significantly from what is depicted on the sectional chart. To see more VFR sectional chart symbols, check out an extensive legend 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.

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