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The following stories from the December 21, 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
Recent Training Tips focused on arrival procedures at nontowered airports, but that's only half the story. You also need to know the proper way to depart nontowered airports. Leaving the area means following the safest way out and adhering to recommended departure procedures as well as any specific local guidelines that may be in effect because of terrain, obstructions, or noise abatement programs. See the Nov. 29, 2002, Training Tips article, "No noise is good noise," for information on noise abatement.

While preparing to depart, you should be monitoring the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) and scanning the pattern for conflicting traffic. You also need to have a plan before you taxi onto the runway and commence the takeoff roll. Don't improvise the departure; safety depends on avoiding unexpected maneuvering. "If departing the traffic pattern, continue straight out or exit with a 45-degree turn (to the left when in a left-hand traffic pattern; to the right when in a right-hand traffic pattern) beyond the departure end of the runway, after reaching pattern altitude," advises Chapter 4 of the Aeronautical Information Manual.

To make a safe departure, you need to know how other aircraft might be arriving in the area. "Depending on your intended route, you can take your leave of most airports without crossing part of a potential arrival path. It just takes a little planning and sound knowledge of the airport traffic pattern and common arrival corridors," Julie K. Boatman wrote in the December 2005 AOPA Pilot feature, "Up and Out"-an article written partly in response to suggestions from a pilot who wrote: "The most egregious things I see every day are departing pilots flying through the standard arrival route after takeoff!" (See the article's "Three to go" tips for a smooth departure.)

When is it proper to switch from the CTAF on departure? AOPA's Handbook for Pilots counsels, "Monitor the appropriate frequency and establish and maintain communications from start, during taxiing, and until 10 miles from the airport, except when federal aviation regulations or local procedures require otherwise."

Like a safe traffic-pattern entry, a good departure is a well-planned piece of flying.

My ePilot - Training Product
In the market for a new timepiece? If so, be sure to consider the AOPA 24-hour pilot watch, available from Sporty's Pilot Shop. The watch's face features large, luminescent numbers and displays the words AOPA Pilot and AOPA's distinctive wings. A second, 24-hour movement is indicated with a red hand that can be used for setting Zulu time. The AOPA 24-hour pilot watch can be ordered online or by calling 800/SPORTYS (800/776-7897).

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: What does it mean to "swing the compass"?

Answer: If you had a perfect compass in a totally nonmagnetic airplane, and there were no wind pushing you around, your compass heading would be the same as your magnetic course. That never happens, however, because of the deviation caused by the fact that every compass is slightly different and reacts to the airplane it's installed in differently. Airplanes are full of metal and stray electronic and magnetic currents that coax the compass into saying things that aren't entirely true. That's why you need a compass deviation card-the deviation is what you come up with from "swinging" your compass on a compass rose. Swinging the compass (see Chapter 12 Section 3 Paragraph 12-37 of Advisory Circular 43.13-1B) tells you which compass indication actually points you toward magnetic north. The compass deviation card tells you, "For 270 degrees, steer 272 degrees," and so forth. Additional information on the magnetic compass is discussed in the Flight Training article, "Which way is west?"

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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