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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 32AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 32

The following stories from the August 12, 2005, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online.

My ePilot - Instrument Interest
Perhaps you regularly fly on an instrument flight plan, but how much of that is in actual instrument meteorological conditions (IMC)? How much is in night IMC? Mark R. Twombly did the math in his 1996 AOPA Pilot column " Pilotage: In the dark in the clouds" and learned that his percentage of flight time in the clouds was about 8.4 percent. He further broke it down into night IMC, which equaled 2.3 percent of his total hours for one year. "Based on accident statistics, night IFR is some of the riskiest business a single pilot can undertake, and night IMC approaches are even riskier," he writes. Twombly suggests making time for some night IMC work during recurrency training.

My ePilot - Renter Interest
Even if you rent regularly from an FBO and often rent the same aircraft, you should still be cautious during every preflight because you do not know who else has flown the aircraft or what it has been through. For example, be wary if you see oil inside the cowling. "Unfortunately, many engines just leak. And when you don't own the airplane, it's hard to keep track of an engine's traits," Peter A. Bedell writes in " No Dumb Questions: Are Oil Leaks OK?" in the May 2000 AOPA Flight Training. Bedell recommends asking if the FBO analyzes the engine's oil during oil changes because this can provide insight into the condition of the engine.

My ePilot - Professional Pilot Interest
Removing the control lock-it's just one of the many items on the checklist that, if left unchecked, can have serious ramifications. Always make sure the controls are free and correct. This might sound like something that simply needs to be drilled into each student pilot, but that little oversight also has tripped up professional pilots, as Ralph Hood points out with three examples in " Professionally Speaking: One little item" in the August 2005 AOPA Flight Training.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
If you think you had it rough during those early sessions learning how to take off and land your training aircraft, think of what the tires endured. Side loads during crosswind takeoff runs and touchdowns. Hard landings and bounces. It's amazing that they still look so good. But are they still as good as they appear? You have been taught to look for cuts, bulges, scuffs, and worn-out tread. And your preflight-inspection checklist advises you to "check for proper inflation." But to really know whether aircraft tires are ready for duty, you may need to be doing even more.

What is the correct tire pressure for your aircraft? Is it the same for the nosewheel as for the mains? If you have ever checked the pressure of your aircraft tires, or noted when they were last inflated, you are in a small but prudent minority. "Inflation problems dramatically reduce tire life. Even a slight amount of over- or under-inflation will accelerate wear and increase stress on the tire. A lightweight digital or dial-type tire gauge is a handy addition to your flight bag and is a much more scientific method than trying to guess whether the tire 'looks a little low.' Don't forget temperature effects. If the last time you checked pressure was August, you can be sure it won't be right on winter's first frosty morning," Dave Hensley cautioned in the "Instructor Report" column of the February 2004 AOPA Flight Training.

Tires do not suffer the worst stress during those challenging landings (unlike pilots). It is during fast taxiing, sharp cornering, or pivoting around a brake-locked wheel that a tire may be put to the test, C. Hall "Skip" Jones explained in "Rolling an Airplane" in the January 1998 Flight Training.

Surprised? Then take a glance back at Marc E. Cook's lively analysis of the demands that pilots put on tires and how designers cope. You will find it in the September 1997 AOPA Pilot article titled "Rubber Wonders." After that, you are sure to approach your next flight with new respect for "the little black donuts" on which your trainer rolls.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
Dauntless Software is known to the aviation community as developer of knowledge test prep, pilot logbook, checkride prep, and other programs. But it also maintains on its Web site a community section that features a grab bag of freebies such as checklists, VFR and IFR cross-country planning spreadsheets, weight-and-balance calculators, a VOR navigation simulator, and more. Checking what was available for the Piper Archer II and III, we found four checklists (Dauntless solicits contributions from the pilot community), a Safety Card suitable to give to passengers, and a pilot's operating handbook and performance planning spreadsheet for simulators only. To view free items, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

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: While practicing takeoffs and landings at my local airport, I frequently have close encounters with birds that fly around the airport traffic area. What is the recommended procedure for avoiding a bird strike?

Answer: According to section 7-4-1 of the Aeronautical Information Manual, a pilot should climb to avoid a bird strike because bird flocks will typically fly downward. If you observe a large flock of birds while in flight, consider reporting their current position, altitude, and general direction of flight to the nearest ATC facility or FSS, as well as to airport management. If you are involved in a bird strike incident, you can report it using an online electronic form. For more information on bird strikes and how to avoid them, read AOPA's subject report, Bird/Wildlife Strikes.

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