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‘Step on the ball’
It’s the most unassuming instrument on the panel, so diminutive that it resides within the case of another instrument. Consisting of a ball inside a liquid-filled tube, the inclinometer—located beneath the miniature airplane in a turn coordinator, or beneath the needle of a turn-and-bank indicator—shows whether an aircraft is slipping or skidding through a maneuver. “If aileron and rudder are coordinated during a turn, the ball remains centered in the tube. If aerodynamic forces are unbalanced, the ball moves away from the center of the tube,” explains the discussion of inclinometers in Chapter 6 of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.
That’s why advice to “step on the ball” is commonly offered to student pilots practicing maneuvers in training. But there’s a better instrument for performing the inclinometer’s function: you, the pilot. If you learned the finer points of using rudder to eliminate adverse yaw while practicing coordination exercises, slow flight, and stall recoveries, you have acquired the knack of sensing a slip or skid as an uncomfortable sideward force acting upon your body. This is the “feel” that experienced pilots possess. They don’t need a ball to alert them to uncoordinated flight—and that includes your designated examiner!
The inclinometer can serve other uses, such as diagnosing an out-of-trim aircraft. Mark Twombly explained how in the November 1999 AOPA Flight Training’s “ Flying Smart: What it looks like.” “Suppose you are in straight-and-level cruise at a steady airspeed and you've adjusted the pitch trim to maintain that airspeed and attitude. If you have to maintain some pressure on one of the rudder pedals to keep the wings level and the ball centered in the inclinometer, it's a good bet that the airplane's rudder is out of trim,” he wrote.
Inclinometers have been around for a long time, but not all airplanes have them. If you learn to fly in a technically advanced aircraft, you may notice the absence of an inclinometer, one of many innovations described in the April 2007 AOPA Flight Training feature “ Glass Class: Meet your TAA.” So, whatever you fly, hone the ability to feel the difference between an aircraft in coordinated flight and one that is slip-sliding through the sky.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Is a professional flying job in your future? Read AOPA's Guide to Flying Careers , written for those who envision themselves earning a living as a pilot, and learn about the possibilities.
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.
Two of the nation’s largest aviation associations, AOPA and EAA will be collaborating on issues and programs that protect, support, and grow general aviation as the result of a June 3 working session at the EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh, Wis. EAA Chairman/President Tom Poberezny and AOPA President Craig Fuller, along with senior staff from each organization, met to discuss how they can work more closely to support GA. They agreed to a collaborative, three-pronged commitment to protect GA interests, promote GA safety, and grow the GA community in the United States. “This is a logical collaboration that makes sense for the greater good of general aviation,” Fuller said. Read more >>
Pop quiz: How many pilots who begin flight training end up with their pilot certificate? The answer is startlingly low: about 30 percent. To help stop the flood of flight school dropouts, AOPA created the Flight Path program, a personal tracking system that offers users resources and information to keep them engaged during the training process. Best of all, everyone who tracks his or her progress through the site is automatically entered for a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship. The first winners were recently announced. Michael Schwab of Largo, Fla.; John Riggs of Beatrice, Neb.; Bryan Fletcher of Highland, Calif.; and Terry Russell of Wayland, Mich., are now $1,000 closer to finishing their flight training, thanks to Flight Path. Sign up today!
Fourth-generation pilot takes to the skies
Sarah Sill turned 16 on May 27, and she celebrated the day just as you’d expect a fourth-generation pilot to: She soloed a Citabria. Sill follows in the footsteps of her father, a US Airways pilot; her grandfather, who earned his instrument rating at age 65; and her late great-grandfather, who was a pilot for more than 40 years. Sill plans to take the family tradition even further by aiming for admission to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Read more >>
Airports easily navigated by day can become a bewildering array of lights after the sun goes down. VASIs and PAPIs and REILs, oh my! White and red, blue and green—who can keep straight what it all means? If you have not made a VFR night flight in a while, or if your mental approach path indicator is all red, follow the rotating beacon to " Airport Lighting: VFR," the latest safety quiz from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.
Embry-Riddle creates bird strike information center
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is launching a new research center to address the growing hazard of bird and wildlife strikes. The International Center for Aviation and Wildlife Risk Mitigation, to be based at ERAU’s Prescott, Ariz., campus, will bring together top aviation wildlife experts to share and develop new research solutions and serve as a resource to airports, ERAU said June 2. Archie Dickey, the center’s director and an associate professor of aviation environmental science at Prescott, created and has managed the FAA’s Web-based wildlife strike database since 1999.
Young Eagles events give kids a chance to spread their wings
A lifelong love of flying starts with a single flight. On June 13, thousands of kids will get a chance to fly as part of EAA's sixteenth annual International Young Eagles Day. The Young Eagles program provides free flights to young aviation enthusiasts, many of whom have never flown before. International Young Eagles Day is the most active flying day for the year-round program, which has flown nearly 1.5 million young people since 1992. Read more >>
Avoid that rundown feeling with new PSA video
Sometimes it's complacency. Sometimes distraction. Or maybe even simple airport unfamiliarity. Whatever the reason, general aviation pilots commit potentially disastrous (category A or B) runway incursions once every month, on average. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation and the FAA's Office of Runway Safety have teamed up to take aim at the problem in dramatic fashion: The foundation's latest Pilot Safety Announcement (PSA), a brief video modeled after public service announcements, puts you in the cockpit for a ride you won't soon forget. Check out the new PSA today.
Be part of the Summit excitement
Don’t miss out on AOPA’s first-ever Aviation Summit, Nov. 5 through 7 in Tampa, Fla. Aviation Summit represents an evolution of AOPA Expo, offering new events, opportunities, and social gatherings, in addition to everything you’ve come to expect from an AOPA event, including hot air balloons, jets, safety seminars, and today’s coolest aviation technology, gear, and destinations. Get your hands on everything you’ve ever thought about learning, trying, or buying! You’ll have many opportunities to talk with friends, make new ones, and indulge in “hangar talk” to pick up exciting tips and skills from your fellow pilots. Aviation Summit also will offer groundbreaking policy discussions where you can voice your opinion and affect the future of aviation. To find out more about the event, visit AOPA Online.
Carry the card that pays you to support GA
Thousands of AOPA members carry the AOPA WorldPoints credit card from Bank of America. They already know that by carrying and using the card, they earn their choice of rewards, keep AOPA dues low, and strengthen general aviation. Thousands of others still don’t know about the card and all it can do. Learn more >>
Cup Holder Organizer from Sporty’s
Cockpit organization is a never-ending battle, it seems, judging from the continual procession of products designed to keep your airborne office neat and tidy. The latest is the Cup Holder Organizer from Sporty’s Pilot Shop. The urethane foam container slips into a cup holder. It has three molded sections that can keep a cell phone, sunglasses, iPod, pens and pencils, and other small items in place. You get a set of two for $14.95. See the Web site or call 800/SPORTYS.
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’d like to add helicopter privileges to my private pilot certificate (airplane, single-engine land). Do I have to perform all of the same maneuvers I did for my initial private pilot checkride?
Answer: You won’t need to repeat your private pilot checkride, since you are already a certificated private pilot. The FAA’s Practical Test Standards contain a table, “Addition of a Rotorcraft/Helicopter rating to an existing Private Pilot Certificate,” that makes it easy to see what maneuvers and tasks you will be required to demonstrate during your checkride.
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.
what's new online
Sample not one but two aviation slide shows. The first is an array of shots from award-winning aerial photographers. The second takes you to the very last National Biplane Fly-In at Bartlesville, Okla., where 114 biplanes made their final appearance.
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!
AOPA career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We're looking for a Director of Airspace and Modernization, Aviation Technical Specialist, and 2009 Fall Intern for the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
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 Orlando, Fla., and Columbus, Ohio, June 27 and 28; Newark, N.J., July 11 and 12; Jacksonville, Fla., and Memphis, Tenn., July 18 and 19; Pittsburgh, Pa., July 25 and 26. 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