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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 41AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content --Vol. 6, Issue 41

The following stories from the October 8, 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 - Experimental Interest
The Sportsman 2+2, a kit-built aircraft manufactured by NewGlasair LLC and NewGlaStar LLC, can transform from tailwheel to tricycle gear and now to amphibious floats. Amphibious floats increase the Sportsman's gross weight from 2,350 to 2,500 pounds. The aircraft takes off on water within 1,300 feet, touches down at about 40 knots, and has a range of 600 miles at a cruise speed of 110 kt, according to the company. The Sportsman, which can seat two adults and two children, comes in standard and pre-built kits. For more information, visit the Web site.

My ePilot - Other Interest
The Department of Homeland Security awarded American Eurocopter a five-year contract for $75 million to supply more than 55 EC120 helicopters to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. The helicopters, which will be produced in Columbus, Mississippi, will enable the agency to conduct low-level surveillance and security patrols to detect and deter illegal activity along U.S. borders. The helicopter is one of the quietest in its class, allowing it to fly over wildlife areas within the agency's scope of operation, according to the company. For more information, visit the Web site.

My ePilot - Own/May Own Interest
The FAA has issued a proposed airworthiness directive for Garmin GTX 330, 330D, 33, and 33D Mode S transponders. Similar to an earlier mandatory service bulletin, AD 2004-CE-23-AD would require a software upgrade. The proposal stemmed from concerns about interrogating aircraft not being able to pick up the aircraft in question. The comment deadline is November 15. See the Web site.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
Flight activity at airports tends to settle into a familiar routine. But unusual events like natural disasters can turn a quiet airport into a nerve center for rescue or relief efforts. All pilots are responsible for knowing how to interact efficiently with the participating aircraft.

When Hurricane Jeanne became the fourth severe storm to slam Florida in 2004, helicopters became major players in relief operations. At times like this, fixed-wing pilots are expected to use their knowledge of how to operate with helicopters in the airport vicinity. If such an event happened in your area, there could also be a notice to airmen such as the one put into effect in Florida, encouraging pilots not involved in relief efforts "to avoid navigating through and/or loitering within common knowledge disaster areas in order to avoid causing interference with disaster relief efforts under way."

In ground studies you learned right-of-way rules applicable to aircraft, discussed in the May 2, 2003, "Training Tips". You could face a question about them on your private pilot knowledge test or flight test, such as: How would you interact with a helicopter if your aircraft and the helicopter were both taking off or landing at the same time? At a tower-controlled airport, guidance is provided in Chapter 4 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM): "Insofar as possible, helicopter operations will be instructed to avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft to minimize overall delays; however, there will be many situations where faster/larger helicopters may be integrated with fixed-wing aircraft for the benefit of all concerned." At a nontowered airport, "each pilot of a helicopter or a powered parachute must avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft," states one of the flight rules in Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.

You already know how to avoid wake turbulence (see "The Weather Never Sleeps: Wake Vortices" in the August 2002 AOPA Flight Training) when taking off or landing behind larger aircraft. Helicopters can generate hazardous rotor downwash. See AIM Chapter 7 for tips on how to avoid it.

How you adjust to a sudden change in the type or volume of activity at your airport could have a direct impact on rescue or relief operations. Do your part to get help to those who need it!

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
If a trip to a remote backcountry airstrip isn't in the cards this year (let alone the training required to operate in such a challenging environment), you can still dream. Orion Air Ground Videos, a division of Airstrip Trailhead Preservation Task Force, offers four online mountain flying videos. You can buy a three-day subscription to view one video for $7.95. Destinations depicted include Big Creek and Cabin Creek in Idaho, Bandera State in Washington, and Meadow Creek and Schafer in Montana. Some of the video footage includes real-life distractions (like downdrafts) encountered by the pilots. But remember, watching a video about flying into a mountain airstrip doesn't qualify you to load up the Skyhawk and attempt it yourself. See the Web site for more information.

Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Final Exam
Question: Is the wind direction reported by an automated surface observation system (ASOS) given in reference to true or magnetic north? And do you know how many ASOSs there are in the United States?

Answer: Like the numbering of runways, wind direction is given in degrees relative to magnetic north when the information is transmitted locally by radio (and via telephone) or it goes to Flight Watch. More than 1,000 U.S. airports now have an AWOS (automated weather observation system), an ASOS, or, at some of the bigger airports, an ATIS (automatic terminal information service). All of these systems measure, collect, and broadcast data to help meteorologists, pilots, and flight dispatchers prepare and monitor weather forecasts, plan flight routes, and provide necessary information for takeoffs and landings. For more information, see "Don't Always Tell It Like It Is" from the August 2004 edition of AOPA Flight Training.

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