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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 37AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 37

The following stories from the September 16, 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 - Piston Single-engine Interest
Cherokee Six and Cessna 210 pilots could see Chelton's AP-3C autopilot in their aircraft. Chelton has received FAA supplemental type certificate approval to install the autopilot in these two aircraft. It already has been approved for various other Cessna, Beechcraft, and Piper models, plus the Grumman AA5 and Mooney M20-and you'll find it in our/your Commander Countdown Sweepstakes airplane. Chelton says the autopilot will give pilots vertical nav steering when it is used with an electronic flight instrument system (EFIS), Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) GPS, or flight management system. For more information, see the Web site.

My ePilot - Multiengine Interest
Whether traveling for business or pleasure, why not enjoy some of your down time building multiengine hours? With AOPA's Airport Directory Online advanced search function , you can quickly and easily find airports that rent multiengine aircraft. Just select "multiengine" in the rental aircraft drop-down box and search. You'll find more than 600 airports listed in alphabetical order by state. Limit the results by selecting a specific state or radius of an airport identifier. You can also search for airports with nearby lodging, attractions, restaurants, and more.

My ePilot - Other Interest
Finding places to soar just got even easier with the Soaring Society of America's revamped Web site. The site features an interactive map that provides information on more than 140 soaring locations across the country. Select a state and then scroll over the glider symbols to get the location and name of the soaring club. The site also offers an introduction to soaring for those who've always wondered what it would be like to fly without an engine. FAST (Fly A Sail Plane Today) provides an introductory flight lesson in a glider. Locations that offer the FAST program are marked with an "F" on the interactive map.

My ePilot - Sport Pilot Interest
Checking out light sport aircraft (LSA) and learning about the sport pilot certificate is a little more convenient for Florida pilots now that has opened a Sport Aircraft Center at South Lakeland Airport. The center will provide sport pilot flight training along with service and sales. The company will offer the German-made C42 and Breezer. The Russian Sigma is scheduled to be at the center once it receives certification. The Florida center also will assemble and test fly LSA aircraft imported into the United States to be distributed by For more information, visit the Web site.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
An orderly, predictable traffic flow expedites airport arrivals and departures. Tower-controlled airports require that the arriving pilot monitor terminal information broadcasts and comply with instructions from air traffic control. The procedure at nontowered airports is to determine the correct runway and traffic pattern for landing and communicate on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF). Frequently, you can monitor the CTAF and figure out which way aircraft are taking off and landing from a distance. But to get a more complete picture of the situation, or if there is no local traffic on the air, call and request an airport advisory.

The more information that you can pick up, the more prepared you will be to deal with your arrival. It is also safer. "Learn the active runway and winds. Tune in the airport's AWOS (automated weather observation system) or ASOS (automated surface observation system) to get the details on surface wind strength and direction. Windsocks, wind tees, and segmented circle symbology can give this information if there's no one manning the unicom or CTAF, or if the pattern is empty," wrote Thomas A. Horne in the May 2003 AOPA Pilot feature "Pattern Perfection."

Remember, this is a nontowered airport. The fixed-base operator providing you with active-runway information is not an air traffic controller and cannot require you to land on a runway that you consider inappropriate, if, for example, winds favor another. "The unicom operator does not provide a clearance to land. This person is usually a desk clerk at the FBO who is scheduling airplanes, selling products, processing charges, and answering the phone in addition to providing airport advisories over the unicom frequency. Chances are the person isn't even a pilot," wrote former AOPA Air Safety Foundation Vice President of Training Richard Hiner, recounting the tale of a student pilot's misunderstanding in the December 2000 AOPA Flight Training Instructor Report column.

What if the winds have changed but pilots are continuing to use a less-than-optimal runway? It only takes one person to suggest switching runways. Why not be the trendsetter? Rod Machado discusses this form of "pattern democracy" in a lively correspondence with a flight instructor in his February 2004 AOPA Flight Training "Since You Asked" commentary. Let his wise words on this and other points work for you. To get a thorough overview about nontowered fields, download the Operations at Nontowered Airports Safety Advisor from the AOPA Online Safety Center.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
What's more aggravating than a stuck microphone that jams the frequency? If your aircraft's microphone is the culprit, it's the realization that your conversations have been broadcast for all to hear. Sporty's Radio Check is designed to alert you to a stuck mic or lost transmission. Attach it anywhere on the panel and turn it on; its red indicator light will flash when you activate the push-to-talk switch to confirm a good transmission. A red light when you are not talking signals a stuck mic. If you don't see the red light come on when you push the PTT, you are not transmitting. Radio Check runs on a 9-volt battery (not included) and sells for $69.95. 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: While preparing for my first dual cross-country flight, my flight instructor told me I should be prepared to file a VFR flight plan. My ground school instructor said that filing a flight plan is not required, so why should I do it?

Answer: While it is true that filing a VFR flight plan is generally not required (unless otherwise specified by the FAA), it is recommended. A completed flight plan ( download the form) documents where you intend to fly and helps you to consider, ahead of time, the available information concerning your flight. Equally important, your flight plan serves as a trigger for concern if your arrival is overdue, and it enables search and rescue operations to locate you and your aircraft quickly in the event of an emergency. Just remember to activate your flight plan when you take off and close your flight plan after landing. Check out AOPA's flight planning resources, including AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner, which is free to all AOPA members. And for a great article on filing flight plans, see AOPA Online.

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