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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 20AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 20

The following stories from the May 14, 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 - Student Interest, Training Tips
A new pilot wrote in with a suggestion to write an article about departing from Class C and B airports. You see, his first flight into Class C airspace (see description and procedures in Chapter 3 of the Aeronautical Information Manual) did not go well. Arriving wasn't the problem; he knew what to expect. But the departure went awry.

Planning an on-course heading of 063 degrees, he did not anticipate being assigned a different initial heading out of the radar-controlled environment. He mistook the instructions. This was compounded when, after being scolded for flying 065 degrees instead of the assigned 165 degrees, he became distracted and violated an altitude restriction. "The idea of being told to depart on a heading that was more than 100 degrees from my intended track never occurred to me," he wrote.

Why the different heading? Possibly for traffic. Say you are departing a tower-controlled airport in Class C airspace. Another, faster aircraft is waiting to take off after you. You might receive an initial vector designed to clear the departure course for the next takeoff. After traffic was no longer a factor, you would be instructed to "proceed on course."

Once alert to such possibilities, the departure procedure is not complicated. "Most busy airports-usually Class B or C-have a clearance delivery frequency," wrote David Montoya in the January 1999 AOPA Flight Training feature "ATC Communications." "Before you call ground control, you should contact the clearance delivery controller. For VFR departures, the request is similar to that for taxi clearances. You tell the controller who you are [your aircraft's N number], where you are on the airport, and where you want to go; i.e., 'west departure' or your destination airport." You will be assigned a transponder code and a departure-control frequency (if more than one is in use), and you will be instructed to contact ground control when ready to taxi.

"After takeoff from a Class B or C airport, the tower will hand you off to (radar) departure control," explains Robert N. Rossier in the July 1997 Flight Training feature "High Anxiety, Avoiding the Blue Airport Blues." Read the article to see his other tips for flying into and out of blue airports.

The story ends happily. After the flight the pilot contacted the approach/departure facility to discuss what happened. The controller was "very helpful," allowing the pilot to identify his own error of inexperience: "I guess that because I wanted/expected to hear 063, I somehow mistook 165 as 065," the pilot concluded. A learning experience-one which, handled professionally by all, advanced learning and helped a new pilot keep up his confidence.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
Douglas Ritter is widely known in aviation circles as an authority on survival skills and equipment. He founded the nonprofit Equipped to Survive to promote awareness of survival emergencies. Now he has designed a pocket-size pack to hold some 15 items that could prove indispensable while waiting for help following an off-airport landing. They include a fire starter, tinder, whistle, reflective signal mirror, a compass, and much more. The gear comes in a pouch that weighs less than 4 ounces. The Pocket Survival Pak by Adventure Medical Kits retails for $27.50 and is sold online at and A portion of each purchase goes to Equipped to Survive.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: How often is a VOR aligned with magnetic north?

Answer: The National Aeronautical Charting Office (NACO) provides an answer on its Web site under "Frequently Asked Questions." In response to the question, "Why is there a difference between the magnetic variation for the airport and the VOR located at the same airport?" NACO says, "Although periodic maintenance is performed as needed, a re-slaving to match the isogonic value requires a total navaid shut down, realignment, and a re-certification flight check. Only when the navaid is out of tolerance by at least +/-6 degrees will a re-slaving procedure be initiated allowing the navaid and airport magnetic variation to match again."

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