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All pilots learn to have a healthy respect for summer’s thunderstorms. Part of a skilled pilot’s ability to analyze weather is recognizing conditions that can start storms growing along a proposed route of flight. Ideally, you are safely on the ground when thunderstorms are sprouting, but the unexpected can happen. Plan B is to give convective weather the widest possible berth. Where some VFR pilots err is in underestimating the risks of straying too close to a storm cell.
Turbulence is one of the hazards. Another is hail (METAR symbol: GR). Hail can be encountered at some distance from the cell where it formed. A pilot report (pirep) that includes hail is transmitted as an urgent pirep; hail of three-quarters of an inch in diameter or greater is included in convective sigmets (significant meteorological information) ( see Chapter 11 of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge).
“Hail offers a definite hazard to aircraft. Updrafts lift supercooled drops of water above the freezing level; they fall out of the updraft, are lifted again, and begin collecting layers of ice as they move inside the thunderstorm cell. The stronger the updrafts, the larger the hailstones can grow. They can range from the size of a pea to more than 5 inches in diameter. Hailstones can either be ejected from the thunderstorm—as far as 20 miles from the cloud—or grow too large to be lifted and fall to the ground. Hail most often falls ahead of the advancing thunderstorm cell. It is recommended that pilots avoid thunderstorms by at least 20 miles from the edge of a storm cloud,” was the response to an inquiry about hail in the May 9, 2003, ePilot.
If this revises your sense of what constitutes a minimum safe distance from a thunderstorm along your route, take some time and review the AOPA Pilot Information Center document “ Thunderstorm Avoidance,” especially the section titled “Avoiding Thunderstorms Enroute.” The AOPA Air Safety Foundation also has an entire section devoted to thunderstorm awareness, including an interactive course, a Safety Advisor, a printable quick-reference card, and a quiz.
Another point about hail: It can severely damage an aircraft. See the July 2001 AOPA Pilot “Never Again” for an account of the impression an encounter with hail made on a Cessna 172’s occupants—and the aircraft itself.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
"My flight instructor and I just don't click." Are you having problems with your instructor or your flight school? Talking about it could help clear things up. Before making a drastic move that could set back your training, read this article from the January 2004 AOPA Flight Training magazine.
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.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will host an aviation/aerospace career expo Nov. 4 through 5 at the Daytona Beach, Fla., campus. Participating employers include Alsalam Aircraft Co., The Boeing Co., Continental Airlines, European Aeronautic Defence and Space, Garmin International, Jamco America Inc., Naval Air Systems Command, Northrup Grumman Corp., Proctor & Gamble, and the U.S. State Department. For more information, see the Web site.
K-State adds Garmin G1000 training tool
Kansas State University’s Aviation Department has acquired a Garmin G1000 integrated avionics training suite that will be used to train students in the professional pilot and aviation maintenance programs. The suite will allow the college to offer an advanced avionics installation class and a G1000 troubleshooting class, according to Kurt Barnhart, head of K-State Aviation at Salina.
Finding AOPA at AirVenture
EAA AirVenture 2009 is just days away. If you plan to visit this year, make sure that AOPA is high on your to-do list. As you stroll through the gate and get your visitor’s map, look for AOPA’s Big Yellow Tent at a new location. You’ll find us at Booths 193 to 195 near Exhibit Hangar C. AOPA’s 2009 Let’s Go Flying Sweepstakes Cirrus SR22 will be prominently on display—and you’ll want to see the distinctive “GA Serves America” vinyl graphics. You won’t believe it’s a decal! Read more >>
Stop by AOPA’s Big Yellow Tent during EAA AirVenture to enter our grand prize drawing for a Goodyear Blimp adventure for two! The prize includes special guest certificates for a party of two to take an exclusive ride in the blimp along with all expense-paid U.S. domestic travel and accommodations. The ride will take place at one of three Goodyear Blimp bases (Florida, Ohio, or California as decided by Goodyear). The grand prize is valued at $2,000.
In most years, nearly half of all weather-related accidents happen as a result of continued VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Sadly, most of those crashes are fatal. Sadder still: Most are entirely preventable. Addressing such a vexing problem calls for creative outreach. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has answered that call with its latest Pilot Safety Announcement (PSA). The brief tongue-in-cheek video targets VFR pilots who don't respond to traditional safety outreach. Watch " Flying Blind," and be sure to share it with those in need of an eye-opener.
Mark your calendar for AOPA Aviation Summit
AOPA's annual convention has undergone an exciting transformation to the all-new AOPA Aviation Summit. This premier aviation convention is taking place in Tampa, Fla., Nov. 5 through 7 and will feature new experiences, events, and opportunities to test the technology that's relevant to the way you fly and interact with other pilots. Plus we have made it even more affordable than ever to attend. Registration is now open with reduced package rates and exclusive pre-registration discounts designed to add more value to your Summit experience. Together with special family discounts and family-friendly social events, it's the ideal destination for aviation enthusiasts of all ages. Bring the family and enjoy all Tampa has to offer including beaches, shopping, and even a dolphin cruise! Register today!
‘21st Century Flight Training’ from ASA
Does new technology in the cockpit require improved teaching methods? Sean Lane, author of 21st Century Flight Training, sets up new training models and teaching methods to help resolve “the inherent conflict between technically advanced aircraft and an increasingly complex flight environment, and general aviation accident trends,” according to publisher Aviation Sciences and Academics Inc. The book is aimed at both students and CFIs, and flight instructor candidates are led through the development of a complete set of lesson plans. The soft-cover, 472-page book sells for $29.95 and is available through aviation retail outlets or online from ASA.
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: During the run-up for my last flight lesson, we noticed that the oil temperature gauge was reading “0.” We had been taxiing for a while and it was a pretty hot day, so it should have been reading at least a little higher. We decided to cancel the flight and switch to a different airplane. Is the oil temperature gauge a required instrument, and should we have canceled the flight?
Answer: According to FAR 91.205, the oil temperature gauge is a required instrument. You and your flight instructor made the right decision to terminate the flight and get the faulty instrument repaired. For more information on inoperative instruments and minimum equipment lists, check out this AOPA subject report.
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.
AOPA CAREER OPPORTUNITIES
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We're looking for an Airport Support Network Director, a Director of Advocacy, an Aviation Technical Specialist, and a Fall Intern for the Air Safety Foundation. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
what's new online
For two families in northeastern Montana, ranching and flying go hand in hand. See how these hardworking ranchers use airplanes to help manage their spreads in a video and article in the August 2009 AOPA Pilot.
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 Pittsburgh, Pa., July 25 and 26; Costa Mesa, Calif., Atlanta, Ga., and Champaign, Ill., Aug. 15 and 16; Reno, Nev., and Allentown, Pa., Aug. 22 and 23; Fort Worth, Texas, Aug. 29 and 30; Phoenix, Ariz., and Sacramento, Calif., Sept. 12 and 13. 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 Oshkosh, Wis., July 29, 30, and 31; Germantown, Tenn., Aug. 31; Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 1; Maryville, Tenn., Sept. 3. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Got news? Contact ePilot. Having difficulty using this service? Visit the ePilot Frequently Asked Questions now at AOPA Online or write to [email protected].
Editorial Team : ePilot Flight Training Editor : Jill Tallman | ePilot Editor: Alyssa Miller | Contributor: Alton Marsh