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The following stories from the May 15, 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.


Abeam the numbers

Timing is everything. That’s certainly true if a landing approach is to work out perfectly and avoid such problems as floating before touchdown, as the subject of the May 8 “ Training Tip” explained. But timing isn’t important only during the final approach, roundout, and flare. Precise timing is required throughout the entire pattern, with the payoff coming when you finish with a great landing. Timing is especially important when you transition from straight and level to a descent when you are abeam the numbers.


“This leg should be approximately 1/2 to 1 mile out from the landing runway, and at the specified traffic pattern altitude. During this leg, the before-landing check should be completed and the landing gear extended if retractable. Pattern altitude should be maintained until abeam the approach end of the landing runway. At this point, power should be reduced and a descent begun,” explains Chapter 7 of the Airplane Flying Handbook . Then what happens? “The downwind leg continues past a point abeam the approach end of the runway to a point approximately 45 degrees from the approach end of the runway, and a medium bank turn is made onto the base leg,” the chapter continues.


That’s the basic idea, and it’s a time-tested way to learn traffic pattern procedures. But airport operations may require a modified method, as flight instructor and aviation humorist Rod Machado explains in a discussion of “When to descend” on the AOPA Flight Training Web site.


The term abeam has other uses too. “When landing at a towered airport, you may be asked to report your position abeam the tower,” Elizabeth A. Tennyson wrote in the September 2000 AOPA Flight Training’sAviation Speak.” “Your aircraft is abeam a given point when that point is approximately 90 degrees off your left or right side.”


Add “abeam” to your aviation glossary. It will add quality to your flying!


Powerful Learning offers IFR review study

Powerful Learning has introduced a new study software: the “IFR Pilot Review System.” The software is designed for pilots who already have an instrument rating but want to prepare for an instrument proficiency check or flight review. It includes a full IFR library, a database of FAA knowledge test questions, virtual flashcards, and more. The program is available on CD for $75 or as a download for $65.

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 was practicing touch and goes at a nontowered airport last weekend when I heard a pilot on the radio ask for a radio check. Someone replied, “Five by five.” What does this mean?


Answer: The quality of a radio check is measured in two ways. The first number represents the strength of the signal. The second number represents the readability or audio quality of the transmission. Both measurements are made on a scale of one to five, with one being low quality and five being excellent quality. For additional insight into radio communications, take a look at this AOPA Flight Training article.

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