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The following stories from the February 13, 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.


Taxiing tactics

How do you stay on the proper path while taxiing at a busy, crowded airport? It starts, as discussed in the Feb. 6, “Training Tip,” with knowing the airport layout. Then be sure you understand your taxi instructions before you nudge your aircraft into motion.


You will follow procedures prescribed in Chapter 4 of the Aeronautical Information Manual. They state what to read back to the controller and whether your taxi instructions permit crossing runways along your taxi route. Here are the basics—and note the distinction drawn between taxi instructions and clearances. “When ATC clears an aircraft to ‘taxi to’ an assigned takeoff runway, the absence of holding instructions authorizes the aircraft to ‘cross’ all runways which the taxi route intersects except the assigned takeoff runway. It does not include authorization to ‘taxi onto’ or ‘cross’ the assigned takeoff runway at any point. In order to preclude misunderstandings in radio communications, ATC will not use the word ‘cleared’ in conjunction with authorization for aircraft to taxi.”


That’s a subtle safeguard. Readbacks are another: “When taxi instructions are received from the controller, pilots should always read back:

  1. The runway assignment.
  2. Any clearance to enter a specific runway.
  3. Any instruction to hold short of a specific runway, or taxi into position and hold.”

Write down your taxi route. Next, make sure you can comply. “If that means being stationary for a moment or so, don't sweat it. Even the most frazzled controller would rather you be later and straighter than have you risk an accident,” advised Chip Wright in the August 2006 AOPA Pilot feature “DIMS: Applying the ‘does it make sense question’ to your flying.”


Get your feet wet by sampling taxi scenarios you can practice in AOPA’s helpful online taxi resources. Also check out the FAA’s 17 best practices for airfield safety for pilots. They include these points on taxiing.

  • Maintain a sterile cockpit while taxiing.
  • Maintain appropriate taxi speed.
  • Have your head up and your eyes outside while taxiing.
  • Attend safety seminars and programs on runway safety.

Now you’re ready to roll!


Gleim Aviation Radio Receiver

Getting tongue-tied on the radio isn’t uncommon. Student pilots report that they are often able to improve their familiarity with “aviation speak” if they listen to other pilots. A quick (and free) way to eavesdrop on air traffic control is to listen to a Web site that streams audio transmissions. Another option is to park yourself near an airport and listen in on the action with a radio that picks up aviation frequencies. Gleim offers a transistor unit that is an aviation and FM receiver. It can be programmed to hold 100 frequencies in its memory and operates with two AA batteries that are included. It can be purchased from Gleim in a package with the Watching Airplanes course, or obtained from for $54.99.

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 I did my engine runup, I noticed that there was no drop in rpm when I switched mags. Why is that?


Answer: It sounds like you might have a hot mag, or a problem with the ignition switch itself. Essentially, a hot mag is a magneto with a broken P-lead. The P-lead goes between the start switch and the magneto. The P-lead functions to ground the magneto (turn it off). You need to report this to an airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic as soon as possible because this is a dangerous situation. If someone happened to turn the propeller by hand, it’s possible the engine would start. To learn more about your aircraft engine and its components, take the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Engine and Propeller online course.


Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail to [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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