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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 45AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 45

The following stories from the November 11, 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 - Student Interest, Training Tips
When pilots first learn to land an airplane, achieving consistency is the challenge. Usually the most stubborn problem is landing too far down the runway. Fixing this isn't always easy, but careful examination of your technique can provide the solution.

How is your airspeed on final approach? Just a few extra knots over recommended airspeed can result in floating past your touchdown aim point. Airspeed's OK? Check power. If configuration and airspeed are on target but the runway still disappears under the nose, indicating that you are above the glidepath, you may be carrying excessive power. During a normal touchdown, idle power is the goal. The forward slip, described in the June 7, 2002, "Training Tips," is another altitude-losing resource at your disposal.

Think about the way you fly traffic patterns during practice sessions. If your downwind leg is flown too close to the runway, you'll rush things. Widen out, giving yourself time for reconfiguring, retrimming, and checking your position. "When to turn to the base leg? Most instructors say you should wait until the approach end of the landing runway is at a position 45 degrees behind you. You don't want to fly too far from the runway on downwind, but you also don't want to turn to the base leg prematurely and be too high. This would tempt you into a steep, high-airspeed descent on base and final-something you want to avoid. A nice, steady, stabilized rate of descent at a constant airspeed is the goal-and the secret to good, consistent landings," Thomas A. Horne wrote in the May 2003 AOPA Pilot feature "Pattern Perfection." Still not working? Go around and try again-this is always a valid option.

"If you get in the habit of landing long and fast, some day you're going to be forced into landing on a runway that is shorter than you're used to, and even though that runway isn't really short, your technique will make it short," wrote Budd Davisson in his October 2003 AOPA Flight Training feature "Precision Touchdowns: Land Exactly Where You Want To." For an in-depth look at this important phase of flight, download The Ups and Downs of Takeoffs and Landings Safety Advisor from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Web site.

Take the methodical approach to licking long landings now and you will avoid faulty approaches later, when you take on more challenging aircraft, winds, and runways.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
A solo cross-country trip can create a lot of head-scratching when it's time to plan for the flight. What to bring? What not to bring? Should you stow a water bottle in the backseat or up front in the copilot's seat? What if it rolls off the seat and becomes wedged beneath a rudder pedal? Sporty's offers a solution. The Seat Back Organizer is a flight bag that is secured to the copilot's seat back. The things you might need in flight-books, pens and pencils, flashlights, handheld GPS or transceiver-are kept in one place and within reach. The bag sells for $69.95. Order online from Sporty's 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: What is a "braking action report," and how do I receive one for an airport?

Answer: Chapter 4 of the Aeronautical Information Manual describes braking action reports and advisories. Braking action reports are made by pilots or by airport management, as necessary, to report surface conditions at an airport. Pilots can receive this information from ATC or during preflight planning by checking distant notices to airmen, or notams. The description used when giving a report should be "good," "fair," "poor," or "nil" along with the location where the conditions were experienced. In notam format you may see the description written as "BA GOOD" or "BRAG" for good braking action, "BRAF" for fair, "BRAP" for poor, and "BRAN" for nil. Some airports provide "runway friction reports" instead of braking action reports, which are given as MU values. MU values don't correspond officially to any braking action description, but they can give you an idea of runway condition. A MU reading of 40 or less is a level when braking action will begin to deteriorate and directional control will become increasingly difficult. For additional information on braking action and runway friction reports, download the Safety Brief from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Web site.

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