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The following stories from the February 20, 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.


‘Position and hold’

When is a clearance not a clearance? That’s not a trick question. It asks what you’ll do if you request permission for takeoff from a control tower, but the instructions you receive are to “taxi into position and hold.”

According to the Pilot/Controller Glossary in the Aeronautical Information Manual, the phrase is “used by ATC to inform a pilot to taxi onto the departure runway in takeoff position and hold. It is not authorization for takeoff. It is used when takeoff clearance cannot immediately be issued because of traffic or other reasons,” explained the June 14, 2002, Training Tip “ Safe ground operations.”

When tower-controlled airports get hectic, controllers need flexibility positioning aircraft for arrival and departure. They rely on pilots to understand the tools in the controllers’ toolbox, the “position and hold” instruction is one of those tools. Learn more from Question 4 in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Safety Quiz “ Pilot/Controller Glossary: VFR Operations.

In many cases, whatever situation prevented the granting of a takeoff clearance resolves itself before you finish taxiing onto the runway. If so, you’ll receive a takeoff clearance while you are still rolling along. But this is not always the case. If a preceding arrival required a long ground roll, or if that aircraft had to taxi some distance before being able to clear, you may be in for a wait.

Alertness is the name of the game, especially if traffic is inbound to the runway on which you are holding, as Chip Wright discussed in the August 2005 AOPA Pilot feature “ Runway Manners.” “At airports with control towers, controllers make liberal use of the ability to tell an aircraft to taxi into position and hold. The controllers are required to advise the departing aircraft of traffic on final, and each airport has its own comfort level for following the rule for how close the landing traffic can be when they allow the position-and-hold procedure to be used.” If you don’t receive your takeoff clearance shortly and there’s traffic bearing down, don’t just sit there! Request further instructions, as recommended in the FAA’s February 2007 “ Position-and-Hold Guidance for Pilots” document.

Stay alert—and always maintain your own traffic lookout before taxiing onto a runway, even when ATC is calling the plays.


Sporty’s offers weekly video tips

Sporty’s Web site is offering a free video tip each week on the pilot shop home page. The tips are culled from Sporty’s line of complete training courses. This week’s clip explains visual glideslopes. The clip will be updated each Monday, according to 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 have decided to work toward a sport pilot certificate. It’s very difficult to find a light sport aircraft to rent. Can I do some or all of my sport pilot training in a Cessna 172 or similar aircraft?


Answer: Yes. Certainly it would be most helpful to complete all of your training in the same kind of airplane, but unfortunately, not everyone has access to a light sport aircraft. In fact, you can do almost all of your sport pilot training in an airplane that does not meet the definition of light sport aircraft in FAR 1.1. The only flight time you would need to log in a light sport aircraft would be your solo flights and your checkride. You can learn all about the sport pilot regulations on AOPA Online.


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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