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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 15AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 15

The following stories from the April 9, 2004, 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 - Turboprop Interest
A new single-engine turboprop has entered the U.S. market. Pacific Aerospace Corp. of Hamilton, New Zealand, has received an FAA type certificate for the PAC 750 XL. The airplane is powered by a 750-horsepower Pratt & Whitney PT6-34 engine and has a useful load of 4,400 pounds. The company plans to deliver its first U.S. aircraft in June. See the Web site.

My ePilot - Experimental Interest
Four Winds Aircraft now has 50 hours on its newly engineered Four Winds four-door aircraft kit that is producing nearly 180 knots TAS in early testing. The aircraft was first flown on February 27 and has since been taken on demonstration tours around Florida. The kit will cost $58,000 for a complete airframe, less avionics, interior, and engine. A 300-horsepower engine such as the Lycoming IO-540 or Continental IO-520/550 is recommended; the airframe can handle up to an 800-shp turbine engine. There are 34 orders for the aircraft. See the Web site.

My ePilot - Other Interest
A Seattle-area glider pilot died on April 1 in a midair collision involving two gliders about 6 miles northwest of the Arlington Municipal Airport in Washington state. Killed was Wil Burhen, 40, an expert glider pilot and mentor to other pilots, according to a story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The second pilot, 24-year-old Paul Adriance, parachuted from his damaged glider and escaped with minor injuries. Adriance walked six hours to a naval transmitting station in the cold and dark after freeing himself from his parachute in a tall tree, according to a Web site maintained by the Evergreen Soaring Club. Evergreen alerted authorities when the two failed to return about 7 p.m. The glider pilots were flying together and in radio contact as they searched for lift.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
Every student pilot practicing landings in the airport traffic pattern occasionally experiences the problem of overshooting the final approach. See "Instructor Report: The Asymmetrical Traffic Pattern" in the April 2001 AOPA Flight Training.

Excessive speed is one cause. Becoming distracted when you reconfigure for landing, thus losing awareness of your progress over the ground, is another. But for beginners, wind is the usual culprit. Suppose you are on a left downwind for Runway 33, preparing to land in wind from 280 degrees at 10 knots. This means there will be a crosswind component of 8 kt from the left on final-see the February 27, 2004, "Training Tips". But it also means that there is an 8-kt crosswind component from the right on the downwind leg! If you have not corrected for that, you will gradually drift in toward the runway while flying downwind. Compounding the problem is that when you turn to the base leg heading of 60 degrees, the tailwind component increases, and so does your groundspeed. So there you are-closer to the runway than you want to be, moving faster over the ground than expected. It's a perfect recipe for an overshoot, often followed by a sloppy, unstable final approach, rough landing, or worse.

At that point, what would you do? "Perhaps the most important lesson a student can learn-and an instructor can teach-is how to abort an approach safely and go around," wrote Christopher L. Parker in "Flying Safe-The Last Half Mile" in the October 1997 Flight Training.

Learning how to keep a continuing check on your position in the pattern and make appropriate drift corrections takes practice, but there are techniques that will give you an edge. In the August 2001 AOPA Flight Training feature, "Looking Down: Ground Track in the Pattern," Budd Davisson makes a suggestion. "Try this experiment: The next time you fly when there's any kind of wind across the runway, take a look behind you as you turn crosswind. Are you still on the extended centerline?" His point is that if you catch drift early, it will remain in your thoughts while you divide your attention between the numerous pattern-flying tasks.

As is true of mastering so many piloting skills, small adjustments made early make all the difference. Perhaps you are only a few seconds of timing away from turning your traffic patterns into works of art that are beautiful to witness and a joy to perform.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
For those times when you need to dial up the weather somewhere and don't have the right Airport/Facility Directory at hand, anyAWOS provides access to any automated weather observation systems (AWOSs) in the continental United States via one toll-free number (877/ANY-AWOS; 877/269-2967). Dial the number and key in the airport's three-letter identifier. (You'll listen to a brief advertisement while the connection is made.) The company says it will continually update its database. If your airport has a publicly accessible AWOS but isn't included, send an e-mail or see the Web site for more information.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: I'm getting ready to take the knowledge test for the private pilot certificate. I'm curious as to what the average test score is-or even the pass rate-for this test. Where can I find this information?

Answer: The FAA tracks this information and posts the results on its Web site. You can view the pass rates as well as the average test scores for each type of knowledge test administered in 2003.

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