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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 5, Issue 22AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 5, Issue 22

The following stories from the May 30, 2003, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information customized to their areas of interest by updating their member record file online.

My ePilot - Experimental Interest
The FAA has approved an option that allows builders of GlaStar kits to significantly reduce building time. New Glasair's Jump Start kits meet the FAA's 51-percent rule for amateur-built aircraft while reducing building time by 50 percent, according to the company. With the new kit, the composite fuselage structure arrives at the builder's shop completely assembled and mated to the steel tube cage with all structural bulkheads factory installed. Jump Start wings also come ready to bolt onto the fuselage. The company figures the new kit could save the builder from 350 to 400 hours. For more, see the Web site.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
No pilot should proceed too far into training before hearing about the birds and the bees-and how you may be transporting them aloft as stowaways hidden in the nooks and crannies of your aircraft. Spring is the time when such discoveries are most common, but at any time, an aircraft that has sat inactive should be regarded suspiciously. Intruders can be much smaller than a bird. "Looking through the AOPA Air Safety Foundation database over the past 25 years, we found more than 20 accidents attributed to insects in fuel vent lines, pitot tubes, carburetors, and other sensitive places. It's quite likely that there were some unexplained engine stoppages caused by insects blocking vents," advises AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg in his Safety Pilot column titled "Bugged," in the May 2003 AOPA Pilot.

Watch the goings-on at an airport with a good supply of tied-down airplanes on a spring day. You'll see birds import nesting materials through astonishingly tiny openings in engine cowlings and flight-control surfaces. Cowl plugs and pitot-tube covers help-but don't become complacent. Make the effort to find hidden surprises during preflight inspections, even if that means confronting ergonomic drawbacks of your aircraft's design. (Take the trouble to preflight a difficult-to-inspect aircraft whether or not you are checking for creatures dwelling within.) "If you can't see into the fuel tanks on a high-wing aircraft, use a step stool. The same is true if you need a little extra elevation to look for bird nests in the tail or if your arms won't reach the oil filler cap under the cowling," advises Kevin Donnelly in his July 2001 AOPA Flight Training feature, "Perfect Fit."

If your efforts result in a discovery, attempt to determine the extent of any damage. "Snakes, rodents, birds, and other creatures have caused havoc aboard flying machines of every variety. Such intruders can jam control cables, destroy electrical wiring, degrade fuel cells, and incite massive corrosion," notes Dave Wilkerson in his "Checkride" column in the November 2000 AOPA Flight Training.

Dennis Baer found out that his newly purchased aircraft had become "The Great Flying Wasp Condo" during a period of inactivity. Read his tale in the "Learning Experiences" department of the June 2002 AOPA Flight Training magazine. Then make a beeline for your airport, and enjoy the flights of Spring!

My ePilot - Training Products
Flight Dynamics, a provider of flight training software, has released the latest version of its Flight Trainer software series. The programs include navigation training, quizzes, and navigation simulations (ADF, VOR, HSI, and DME) for private and instrument pilots, as well as ground reference maneuver training and simulation (traffic patterns, s-turns, turns about a point, eights on pylons) for private and commercial pilots. The software shows the airplane in a given maneuver or course alongside several cockpit instruments and navaids with the appropriate indications for each phase of that maneuver. Pilots can package the training aids that they need for prices ranging from $34.95 (for the ground reference maneuvers only) to $119.95 (for the works). For more, see the Web site.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam

Question: On my sectional chart, there is a white box with magenta borders in a Military Operations Area. It shows the letters "CTC" followed by a frequency. What is this?

Answer: The white boxes with magenta borders are depicted on current sectionals. They are meant for VFR aircraft flying in that area, giving them information enabling them to contact air traffic control without the need for other publications. The letters "CTC" stand for "contact" and the information following is the facility and frequency that should be used. A good source of information on charts is the Aeronautical Chart User's Guide . You may also be interested in reading two articles from Flight Training magazine, "Chart Basics" and "How to Read a Sectional Chart."

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