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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 5, Issue 45AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 5, Issue 45

The following stories from the November 7, 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 - Student Interest, Training Tips
A student pilot planning a solo cross-country flight is selecting checkpoints along the route ( click here to download Chapter 14 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, from AOPA Online). For the first, he has penned a hash mark on his chart where two roads intersect west of a long lake. Is this a good choice?

If he takes off and immediately turns on course, sure. But what if air traffic control vectors him elsewhere, for traffic? What if it's hazy? What if a bump knocks his chart to the floor during the climb?

His flight instructor offers a suggestion: Why not use the lake itself as the checkpoint? It can be spotted instantly and positively identified. Better, if checkpoint #2 fails to show up, the lake will be visible astern for reorientation or a return home. That should satisfy the practical test standard of an "easily identifiable en route checkpoint" to the examiner administering your private pilot checkride some day soon. "The airplane, your workload, the day's visibility, and other conditions will weigh heavy on what you should call an easily identifiable checkpoint. Your examiner wants to see you display good judgment above wishful thinking," writes Dave Wilkerson in his July 2002 AOPA Flight Training commentary "Checkride: Cross-country testing."

When you're studying your chart, think about prominent land forms or man-made structures in the area. What stands out on the chart may be innocuous on the ground, or vice versa. Mostly you will navigate with sectionals, sometimes terminal area charts. World Area Charts (WACs) are less user-friendly. "The symbology is nearly identical (although less detailed) to that of the sectional and terminal charts, but WACs are little used in flight training because their extremely large area of coverage and tiny geographical details are most useful only for very long flights," explained David Montoya in his June 2002 AOPA Flight Training feature "Art of the Chart."

Heading into unfamiliar territory? Glean some hints about checkpoints by researching aerial photos as suggested in the August 2003 AOPA Flight Training feature "View from Above."

In the November 2003 AOPA Flight Training, you'll find a pilot's discussion of checkpoints in "Flight Forum". Then jump to Wally Miller's September 2003 AOPA Flight Training feature "Getting from Point A to Point B" for the rest of the cross-country flying story. Choose your checkpoints carefully, and have a great flight.

My ePilot - Training Products
When instrument students begin learning to fly real-world approaches, radio communications presents a new set of challenges. To meet those challenges, Sporty's Pilot Shop has updated its Chicago O'Hare IFR audio program and put the presentation on audio CD. The program features a flight in Sporty's Piper Aztec from southeastern Ohio to Chicago O'Hare International. Hear the preflight planning, as well as actual pilot/controller exchanges, explanations, and IFR tips along the way. The 80-minute CD sells for $12.50. Order online or call 800/SPORTYS.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: Now that daylight savings time has ended for the year, my after-work flight training is flown partly in daylight, and partly in darkness. For the purposes of logging day and night hours, when does "night" begin as defined by the regulations?

Answer: For the purposes of logging time, according to FAR 1.1, "night" means the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the Air Almanac and converted to local time. The U.S. Naval Observatory has a helpful table that will calculate this exact time for any location. Remember, however, that the regulation for "night currency" defines "night" differently. To meet the night takeoff and landing experience requirement in FAR 61.57, "night" means the period of time beginning one hour after sunset and ending one hour before sunrise. So, if you want to use your night takeoffs and landings to meet night currency requirements, be sure you wait at least an hour after sunset to do them.

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