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AOPA ePilot Custom ContentAOPA ePilot Custom Content

The following stories from the November 16, 2007, 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.

My ePilot - Helicopter Interest
Joe Rahn, a staff pilot with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP), has a dream job—one that combines "flying and wildlife." Rahn is one of several full-time pilots who work for the agency's aircraft division. He transports FWP wildlife and fisheries biologists to rugged mountains, high-country streams, and remote prairies to do field research. Rahn flies a Bell Helicopter OH-58 Kiowa that has been outfitted for wildlife field research, according to a report in the "Missoulian." Read more.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
The best way to arrive and depart nontowered airports is the subject of an ongoing debate in the AOPA Aviation Forum and the source of many questions from student pilots. From avoiding traffic conflicts to making your way safely into the pattern, questions fly. What kind of traffic pattern entry must I fly if I arrive from the side of the airport opposite the pattern? When is it correct to descend to traffic pattern altitude? What's wrong with flying a straight-in final approach?

Etiquette, communications, and recommended traffic flows are examined in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Operations at Nontowered Airports Safety Advisor . Vigilance is critical both in the air and on the ground. Note on Page 3 of the Safety Advisor the traffic-spotting method described for the aircraft just before it taxies for takeoff. If your airport's taxiway and runup area layout does not allow a clear view of the traffic pattern, maneuver your aircraft to scan the pattern carefully before claiming the runway. Scan all around; just because your airport employs left traffic doesn't guarantee that everyone is complying. Remember that go-arounds are frequently caused by an aircraft taxiing out for takeoff as another is on short final approach to land.

Not all conflicts arise out of misbehavior or negligence in the traffic pattern, especially at very busy nontowered airports [see "Looking for Traffic" in the March 1999 AOPA Pilot]. Sometimes pilots make mistakes when reporting their position. If you are unable to spot traffic that has reported its position on the common traffic advisory frequency, try scanning a wider area to find your missing traffic.

A pilot seeking advice online asked how to handle various arrival scenarios at a small, difficult-to-spot airport. The AOPA Pilot Handbook can help. Note the accompanying cautions: "Never descend into the traffic pattern at an airport. Also, avoid any straight-in approaches at nontowered airports. Both situations are extremely hazardous, as chances of seeing other traffic are greatly diminished (e.g., low-wing aircraft descending on top of high-wing aircraft or aircraft on a straight-in approach not seeing [or being seen by] aircraft in the pattern, etc."

Adhering to the recommended methods isn't just procedure for its own sake. It's the safest way to come and go.

My ePilot - Training Product
Sporty's has updated its Indestructible Instrument Plotter-so called because it's made of a material that won't warp or break-to work with the new low altitude en route charts. The FAA recently reconfigured the low altitude en route charts so that there are now 36 charts with nine mileage scales. The Sporty's plotter measures distance and course, as well as calculating holding pattern entries. The plotter includes 10 individual mileage scales and a compass rose. The holding pattern diagram can be overlaid on the chart to determine holding pattern entries in seconds. The plotter sells for $4.95 and can be ordered online or by calling 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.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: If I'm making a long cross-country flight that will cover hundreds of miles, what is the best way to get in-flight weather information?

Answer: Flight service's En route Flight Advisory Service (EFAS), better known as Flight Watch, provides routine weather information, pilot reports, and current reports on the location of thunderstorms and other hazardous weather as observed on weather radar. Flight Watch can be contacted on 122.0 MHz. In order to properly hail Flight Watch when you make your initial call, use the name of the controlling flight service station if you know it. If you don't, just broadcast "Flight Watch" and your aircraft's identification and approximate position. Use the nearest VOR as an easy locator. (You must tell them where you are because you may be within radio range of more than one facility.) Additional insight into this subject is discussed in "What's the Weather."

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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