The following stories from the December 26, 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 REASONABLE BALANCE
The utility of general aviation aircraft is readily apparent during the holidays as families fill the seats, load baggage compartments, and head off to visit loved ones far away. Experienced pilots can quickly determine whether the weight to be carried is acceptable, based on the aircraft's "useful load." It is harder-but equally important-to know that the aircraft is loaded within acceptable center of gravity
(CG) limits. Click here
to download a review of these terms and the discussion of weight and balance in Chapter 3 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
The CG is defined as a "a point at which an airplane would balance if it were suspended at that point." What is the effect of the CG moving forward or aft? See the answer
to Question 3 of "25 Questions" in the December 2001 issue of AOPA Flight Training
. If you load the airplane beyond its CG limits, you risk compromising its stability and handling characteristics. An aft-of-limits condition could prevent you from recovering from a stall or a spin. Unexpected changes in aircraft behavior surprised one student who recounted his "Learning Experiences"
in the March 2003 AOPA Flight Training
Loadings don't have to be extreme to exceed limits as related in the "Small airplane, big student"
dialog between Rod Machado and a private pilot in the September 2001 AOPA Flight Training
. Remember also that the CG may change as fuel is burned! Will an airplane that is acceptably loaded before takeoff remain so throughout the flight? To know, compute weight and balance for your expected conditions at both the beginning and conclusion of your flight.
Don't become the kind of pilot Richard Hiner of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation warns CFIs about in his December 1999 "Instructor Report"
article, saying, "The last time many pilots do a weight-and-balance calculation is for their checkride. They have a vague notion of what their airplane will carry, and they assume that as long as they don't load an iron anvil into the baggage compartment, the CG is reasonably in range." Then see the September 2003 "Safety Pilot" feature "Loaded"
by ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg for some insights into the risks they take.
Orville and Wilbur Wright first grappled with CG and stability, as discussed in the October 2003 AOPA Flight Training
feature "Seeking Out Stability."
Let their discoveries-and the lessons learned by many pilots thereafter-guide your preparations for safe and efficient flying. My ePilot - Training Products UPGRADE FROM VIDEOTAPE TO DVD WITH KING SCHOOL OFFER
Got a King Schools ground school course on videotape gathering dust in the closet? King Schools will buy back your course at half its current value when you purchase a new course of the same title on DVD. For more information see the Web site
or call 800/854-1001. My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam Question:
If the straight-line distance to a destination is less than 50 nautical miles, but the required distance (because of a prohibited or restricted area) is greater than 50 nm, is the flight considered cross-country for the purpose of logging flight time? Answer:
No, it must be a straight-line distance between two points. FAR 61.1(b)(3)(ii) defines cross-country flights, for the purpose of obtaining a certificate or rating, as those that include a point of landing that is a straight-line distance of more than 50 nm from the original point of departure.