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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 49AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 49

The following stories from the December 9, 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
Many pilots stop flying during the winter months, but cold, clear days offer increased aircraft performance and excellent visibility that are perfect for those $100 hamburger hops. To help keep you flying all year round and to protect and winterize your aircraft, the specialists in AOPA's Pilot Information Center provide a winter flying subject report that includes tips on cold weather operations, aircraft icing, caring for your aircraft, and more. And to help keep you safe, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation provides insight into aircraft icing and changing weather.

My ePilot - Instrument Interest
What's your first reaction when you think you've had a radio failure? "Once you realize that you're out of touch with ATC, don't panic," counsels Marc E. Cook in "Too quiet in the cockpit" in the October 1998 AOPA Pilot. "Determine the nature of the problem." Cook recommends discovering if you can transmit or receive, checking the radio settings, trying another radio, and checking the hand mic. If you determine that you have a complete radio failure, start planning your escape. Cook also suggests trying the radios occasionally, monitoring your electrical items, and having a portable GPS ready.

My ePilot - Light Sport Aircraft Interest
Starting in January, anyone purchasing a StingSport light sport aircraft can add another level of safety-airbag restraints. SportairUSA will be offering the AmSafe Aviation Inflatable Restraints system for the pilot and passenger as an option for $4,875 on all StingSport aircraft. The airbag is contained in the lap belt portion of the seat restraint. SportairUSA has completed testing, confirming that the system meets ASTM standards and does not interfere with the flight controls. The company said it would examine the demand for the airbag restraints to determine if it should become a standard feature. Another safety feature that comes standard on the StingSport is the Ballistic Parachute Recovery System.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
The November 25, 2005, and December 2, 2005, Training Tips gave suggestions on how to maintain directional control on the runway, then climb precisely along the extended runway centerline to altitude. The next trick is to level off and establish the aircraft in cruise flight. Leveling off may seem like a mere transition between climb and cruise, but don't underestimate the know-how involved, nor the importance of doing it right. Leveling off skillfully lets you turn to navigation and communication promptly, free of distractions and altitude excursions.

In a low-powered trainer with a fixed-pitch propeller, your level-off begins when you lower the pitch attitude from climb to cruise and then, after a brief interval of acceleration, set cruise power. To make the process easy and precise, a good rule of thumb is to "lead" your level-off by 10 percent of your vertical speed. "If you're climbing at 500 feet per minute, begin your level-off at 50 feet before your target altitude for a smooth transition," wrote Julie K. Boatman in the July 2002 AOPA Pilot feature "Out of the Pattern: Precision Pilot." See her tips for avoiding distractions that cause pilots to fail to maintain an assigned altitude and suggestions for other good practices for pilots of any experience level.

Why maintain climb power for a time after lowering pitch? "Maintaining climb power after the level-off enables the aircraft to reach cruise speed more quickly, and it reduces the amount of trimming required. It's perfectly acceptable to trim while the aircraft is still accelerating, but remind students the level-flight trim setting changes with speed, so they will have to make a final trim adjustment when the airplane stabilizes at its cruise airspeed," Christopher Parker advised CFIs in the June 1997 Flight Training column "Instructor Tips: Cruise Challenges."

Now you are ready to run the cruise checklist, which typically includes these items: setting cruise power, retrimming, and leaning the fuel/air mixture ( download Chapter 5 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge). The same leveling-off technique works after a descent or when changing cruise altitude for better visibility or a smoother ride.

Leveling off is a brief phase of flight but no less demanding of good piloting than any other flight operation-and just as satisfying to perform well.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
There's more to the prepurchase inspection of an aircraft than turning it over to a mechanic and hoping for the best. Denny Pollard's new book, Handbook of Aeronautical Inspection and Pre-Purchase, takes you through the process from a mechanic's point of a view, showing you common pitfalls and traps for the unsuspecting would-be aircraft owner. (Does the phrase "fresh annual" give you a sense of security? It shouldn't, says Pollard.) The author of the self-published book is an airframe and powerplant mechanic with inspection authorization. The book sells for $25 and may be ordered online from Trafford Publishing.

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: If I perform the required takeoffs and landings for carrying passengers at night, does that mean I'm current to carry passengers during the day?

Answer: Yes, as long as the night landings were completed in the same category, class, and type of aircraft you plan to fly during the day. The regulation 14 CFR 61.57 provides the recency of experience requirements for acting as pilot in command. To carry passengers during the day, you must have completed three takeoffs and three landings as sole manipulator of the controls in the same category, class, and type (if a type rating is required) within the preceding 90 days. The landings must be completed to a full stop if being completed in a tailwheel airplane. To carry passengers at night, all of the same day requirements apply. In addition, all of the landings, regardless of the airplane you're flying, must be completed to a full stop during the period beginning one hour after sunset and ending one hour before sunrise. For additional information on pilot-in-command currency, see AOPA Online.

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