The following stories from the November 30, 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 - Student Interest, Training Tips
One item in a weather report or forecast that draws a pilot's eye right away is the wind. How strong, and from which direction? A nice gentle headwind, or a rugged crosswind that will test our technique? It's easy to look at wind data and fix the reported speed and direction in your mind. But rarely is the wind out of a fixed direction. If it is, rarely does it stay that way for long.
Any pilot who has glanced down at an airport windsock after getting the winds from an automatic terminal information service (ATIS) broadcast, tower controller, or automated weather reporting station may notice discrepancies between reported winds and actual winds. The sock may even be swinging smartly-standing out straight one moment and sagging the next, indicating variable direction and velocity. "When planning your arrival based on an ATIS broadcast, note the time that it was prepared, stated at the beginning of the report. On a gusty day the broadcast may include variations in wind direction and speed," advised the Jan. 7, 2005, "Training Tips" article "Check the Sock."
Don't let variable wind conditions catch you by surprise! When scanning METARs during your preflight weather check for winds at your point of departure and destination, make wind variability a point of special attention. How will you know what's up? "If the wind varies more than 60 degrees and the wind speed is greater than 6 knots, a separate group of numbers, separated by a "V," will indicate the extremes of the wind directions," explains Chapter 11 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge .
Whatever the magnetic bearing of the runway you will be using for takeoff or landing, variable winds suggest that crosswind correction will be needed, perhaps in rapidly changing measure. Anticipating that, brush up on your technique by consulting the helpful feature "Wing Low, Opposite Rudder" in the October 2004 AOPA Flight Training. Note the rule of thumb given for estimating the crosswind component on the fly. And heed this additional recommendation: If you find yourself on approach with full control deflection but unable to maintain alignment with the runway-go around!
My ePilot - Training Product
'AVIATION SCHOLARSHIP DIRECTORY 2008'
There's a lot of scholarship information floating around-if you know where to look. Therein lies the problem: Where do you find this information? Heather M. Cook, editor of Phoenix Flight Publications, has compiled a new directory to help you get started. Aviation Scholarship Directory 2008 includes information about 517 scholarships available for flight training, advanced ratings, mechanic and technical training, college degrees, specialized training, and more. The author, who "has won all nine scholarships she has ever applied for," offers advice on how to write a winning scholarship essay, what to expect when applying for a scholarship, and how to get great letters of recommendation. The 312-page soft-cover book sells for $24.99 and may be ordered online; an e-book version is available for $19.99, as is a year's worth of updates for $14.99.
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: During one of my solo cross-country flights the other day, I ran into some unexpected weather conditions that hadn't been mentioned during my preflight weather briefing. I wanted to notify someone of the conditions I was encountering, but I could not remember how this is done.
Answer: Pilot weather reports (pireps) can be given to the ground facility with whom you are communicating, for example, EFAS, AFSS/FSS, ARTCC, or terminal ATC. One of the primary duties of EFAS facilities, radio call "Flight Watch," is to serve as a collection point for the exchange of pireps with en route aircraft. Pireps provide valuable information regarding the conditions as they actually exist in the air, which cannot be gathered from any other source. They can confirm the height of bases and tops of clouds, locations of wind shear and turbulence, and the location of in-flight icing to name a few things that a pilot might come across while en route. When a pirep is filed, the ATC or FSS facility will add it to the main distribution system to brief other pilots and provide in-flight advisories. Read more in the Aeronautical Information Manual Chapter 7: Safety of Flight and check out AOPA Air Safety Foundation's SkySpotter online course, which teaches all about pireps.
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.