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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 35AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 35

The following stories from the September 2, 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 - Personal/Recreational Interest
Teenage cousins Ben Dunkerley and Nick Reed recently returned from a cross-country trip that took them from New Hampshire to California and back in their grandfather's Aeronca Champ. Does their cross-country flight sound familiar? It's what two brothers did in author Rinker Buck's Flight of Passage memoir. And that's where the 17-year-olds got the idea, according to the Portsmouth Herald. The cousins' first attempt to begin their journey in early July was cut short because of a mechanical problem. But they finally set off July 20, armed with money for avgas, some clothes, sleeping bags, and sectional charts, among other things. The boys often camped under the airplane. Read more about the boys' adventures online.

My ePilot - Renter Interest
As a renter pilot switching from aircraft to aircraft, it is difficult to get to know the quirks of the many airplanes you fly. But as Thomas B. Haines points out in "Out of the Pattern: Getting to Know You," in the October 2002 AOPA Pilot, it is possible for you to minimize the surprises the airplane could throw at you in flight by asking some simple questions before you take it for a spin. Ask the instructors who regularly fly the airplane about some of its characteristics, check out the squawk sheet, and talk to the mechanics and pilot who just finished flying it. And Julie Boatman explains how she gets to know rental aircraft in "Putting It Into Practice: Getting a feel for it," a sidebar to Haines' article. If the rental aircraft is equipped with a Garmin 430 or 530 GPS receiver, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's new VFR minicourse is just the ticket to get you comfortable pushing the buttons.

My ePilot - Turboprop Interest
Piper Cheyenne II owners can upgrade to a glass cockpit with S-Tec now that the company has received FAA approval to have MAGIC electronic flight instrument system (EFIS), electronic instrument display system (EIDS), and MAGIC 2100 digital flight control system (DFCS) installed on the aircraft. Packaging options include two-, four-, or six-panel systems. For pricing information, contact Greg Plantz, S-Tec director of sales, via e-mail or call 262/895-6450.

My ePilot - Experimental Interest
The Zenith Aircraft Company has tried to make it even faster to build its STOL CH 801. Now the company is offering a quick-build kit, which supplies everything from the firewall back and provides the maximum pre-assembly of kit parts as permitted under the 51-percent rule of the amateur-built experimental category. With the quick-build kit, the airframe is pre-jigged, the parts are pre-aligned, and the holes have been drilled. Plus the wings are already assembled, and the fuselage and tail sections are riveted together. The quick-build kit costs $31,950. See the Web site.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
If landing is one of the toughest maneuvers to learn about flying, timing a proper roundout and flare is the tricky part of learning to land. Sound like your particular struggle? Take heart. Sometimes all it takes is making a small adjustment to your technique. For many student pilots, that adjustment means learning where your eyes should be focused during different stages of placing the aircraft on the runway. Make this your goal, and see your landings improve.

When the aircraft approaches the runway during final approach, there is a strong tendency after glancing downward, or slightly ahead of the aircraft, to judge height above the runway, not to look sufficiently forward again when starting the roundout and flare. This is a recipe for problems. "If the pilot attempts to focus on a reference that is too close or looks directly down, the reference will become blurred and the reaction will be either too abrupt or too late," according to the discussion of estimating height and movement on page 8-4 of the Airplane Flying Handbook . The chapter also takes up what happens when a pilot falls victim to the opposite problem: looking too far ahead.

Another challenge during the landing is brought about by the fact that visibility over the nose will be greatly restricted or nonexistent during a normal flare. Proper eye placement during this phase will keep you from making the common error of moving about or stretching your neck to see over the nose. Learn the "sight picture" for your aircraft and a helpful flare-management technique offered by columnist Ralph Butcher in his commentary "Insights: Pie in the Sky" in the December 2004 AOPA Flight Training.

If you would be aided by prolonging the time to practice the transition from final approach to flare, suggest to your instructor that you follow columnist Rod Machado's advice: Use a slight amount of power in the flare instead of idling the throttle for touchdown. "I've used this technique with great success over the years. Students seldom take more than an hour in the pattern to acclimate themselves to the flare," he wrote in the December 1999 AOPA Flight Training, adding, "Perhaps the biggest drawback to this time-distorting technique is that it has no effect on the Hobbs meter." For additional information about this critical phase of flight, read the Ups and Downs of Takeoffs and Landings Safety Advisor from the AOPA Online Safety Center.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
Sporty's has a knack for discovering fixes to cockpit inconveniences and bringing them to the marketplace. The latest is the Approach Plate Stiffener, a plastic sleeve designed to keep approach charts flat-not droopy-so that an instrument pilot or student can fly with both hands and still read it. Place the Approach Plate Stiffener into a yoke-mounted chart clip, then insert the chart. The plastic sleeve takes up no extra space and won't interfere with the yoke, Sporty's says. The Approach Plate Stiffener costs $6. Order online or call 800/SPORTYS.

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: I often hear the terms unicom and traffic being used by pilots flying at the local nontowered airport. Why are they using both, and when should I use them?

Answer: At many nontowered airports, the unicom and the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) share the same frequency. The airport FBO staff usually responds to unicom transmissions and provides airport advisory information, such as current wind conditions and runway in use, to pilots on this frequency. However, they are not required to do so, nor are there any standards for these advisories. Radio transmissions using the term traffic are addressed to pilots flying in the airport environment and are used primarily to provide situational awareness and collision avoidance. These transmissions should include the airport name, aircraft model, N number, and position in the traffic pattern. For more information, download Operations at Nontowered Airports from the AOPA Online Safety Center.

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