The following stories from the August 29, 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 - Piston Single Engine Interest ~ THREADING THE NEEDLE AND GETTING STUCK
Pilots flying in mountainous areas should receive training in mountain flying operations prior to attempting such flights. The pilot of a Cessna 182J learned this lesson when attempting to land at a private airport outside of Gold Beach, Oregon, on September 9, 2001. Read what went wrong
in this report prepared by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, exclusively for ePilot
readers. My ePilot - Jet Interest FAA ALLOWS G-V PILOT TRANSITION TO NEW G550
Gulfstream Aerospace has announced that pilots already type rated in the Gulfstream V will be able to fly the company's newest large-cabin jet, the Gulfstream G550, after completing a five-day transition course. Pilots are also required to complete 14 hours of training on the head-up display and Gulfstream Enhanced Vision System (EVS), unless they have already qualified. But pilots who train to fly the G550 may also elect to take a two-day course to fly the G-V. The G550 recently received FAA certification. My ePilot - Instrument Interest ~ ARE YOUR CHARTS CURRENT?
The FAA is updating IFR approach charts, IFR high- and low-altitude en route charts, and some sectional, world aeronautical, and VFR terminal charts on September 4. Also, the FAA is updating Airport/Facility Directories. AOPA's Airport Directory Online
will reflect the changes. Make sure your charts are current before you fly. My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips HAZY DAYS OF SUMMER
Haze-every pilot must take it into consideration when evaluating weather information. Whether included in a METAR observation or a pilot report (pirep) as a cause of reduced visibility, haze is sometimes the only bad news on an otherwise potentially excellent day for flying. But don't let that lull you into underestimating the phenomenon.
What is haze? The National Weather Service defines it as "a suspension in the air of extremely small, dry particles invisible to the naked eye and sufficiently numerous to give the air an opalescent appearance," wrote Jack Williams in his October 1999 AOPA Flight Training
column, "The Weather Never Sleeps."
You may know from your studying that "good" weather such as high pressure and associated atmospheric stability-as explained in Williams' March 2003 column
-create the conditions most conducive to dense accumulations of haze. He cautions: "Just because the air is stable, don't assume that flying is going to be great. True, the ride could be smooth, but you could run into poor visibility." And that's even without a cloud in the sky!
So while it may be generally true that high pressure systems are "good" and lows are "bad" for VFR flying, remember to consider exceptions to the rule. Is the high now sitting above your region becoming a "blocking high"? That could mean a long stretch of bad flying weather, as AOPA Pilot
Editor-at-Large Thomas A. Horne explains in his August 2003 article, "Air Blocks: Why Some Highs are Bad News."
The risk is not just getting lost or violating minimum visibility requirements for flying under visual flight rules-although that is serious enough. You can review the VFR requirements provided online in Section 4
of AOPA's Handbook for Pilots
Haze, just as surely as a cloud encounter, could cause spatial disorientation and loss of aircraft control if all outside visual references were to disappear. For more on what could happen in such a situation, see Christopher L. Parker's August 2002 AOPA Flight Training
article, "The Oldest Trap in the Book."
Bad weather can develop when conditions seem favorable to flying, and this possibility can make go/no-go decisions challenging-or even difficult. Learn from one pilot's discovery of that truth in "Learning Experiences"
in the January 1997 Flight Training
. Then use AOPA's wealth of insights about haze to stay clear of trouble in your own flying. My ePilot - Training Products ADD A CESSNA 152 TO YOUR VIRTUAL TRAINING FLEET
It's great fun to pilot a Learjet 45 or Boeing 737 through the virtual landscape of a PC-based flight simulation program. But what if you crave to polish your skills on something that you actually fly in real life-say, a trusty Cessna 152? Flight1.com sells a Cessna 152 add-on to "Microsoft Flight Simulator" in its "General Aviation Collection." It features both a 3-D virtual cockpit and a 2-D instrument panel with interior views; you can use either or switch between them. You also get to hear authentic 152 engine noises, switch clicks, and gyro sounds. The download is available for $19.95. Flight1.com also sells add-ons of other aircraft such as the Piper Archer II and the Cessna 310. See the Web site
for more details. My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam Question:
Can you tell me how I find an airport's traffic pattern altitude (TPA) if that information is not included in the Airport/Facility Directory
Traffic pattern altitudes can range between 600 and 1,500 feet agl. Some airports that have mixed traffic may have several TPAs-for example, one for light aircraft, another for heavier aircraft, and perhaps a third for helicopters. Chapter 4-3-3 of the Aeronautical Information Manual
(AIM) states that 1,000 feet agl is the recommended pattern altitude unless established otherwise. It is the airport management that "establishes otherwise." The A/FD lists traffic pattern altitudes that are different from the 1,000-foot general recommendation. So, if no TPA is listed for a particular airport, the 1,000-foot recommendation would apply. However, sometimes airport management decides to set or change a traffic pattern altitude (within the parameters of 600 to 1,500 feet) and the new TPA is not listed in the A/FD. AOPA's Airport Directory Online
updates this information with airport surveys and questionnaires. But, if in doubt, you should call the airport.