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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 50AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 7, Issue 50

The following stories from the December 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 - Turboprop Interest
Fly or own a Conquest II equipped with S-Tec's Magic 2100 Digital Flight Control System? If so, you soon could be flying above 29,000 feet. That's because S-Tec's system has received approval for reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM) operations. "This is terrific news for Conquest II owner/operators because flying at RVSM-approved flight levels increases safety and efficiency-two of the biggest benefits this flight control system offers," said S-Tec President Michael McMillan. RVSM became effective in the United States on January 20 and changed the vertical separation between aircraft at high altitudes from 2,000 to 1,000 feet. RVSM increases airspace capacity and has become the worldwide standard.

My ePilot - Renter Interest
Have you ever cracked open the pilot operating handbooks on any of the aircraft you rent? Studying the performance figures and techniques in a POH isn't just for students-even seasoned pilots can polish their flying skills by practicing what's spelled out in that book. "These guides provide important numbers-the envelope your aircraft operates within-that is if you care to open them," writes Nathan A. Ferguson in "Out of the Pattern: Into the POH" in the May 2002 AOPA Pilot. Learn how the POH has evolved from its short, simple beginnings as an owner's manual to today's user-friendly, information-rich book. The next time you go flying, practice takeoffs, landings, and climbs, precisely following the POH's specifications. Read the companion article on the same Web page, "Putting it into Practice," by Julie K. Boatman to see how she tested her skills using the POH.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
The December 2 and December 9, 2005, Training Tips described the importance of flying a precise initial departure after takeoff, then leveling off expeditiously at cruise altitude for a prompt transition to en route navigation-especially at a busy airport where inbound traffic could be arriving on both sides of your departure corridor. Traffic conditions warranting, air traffic control could keep you on an assigned initial heading (perhaps with an altitude restriction) for some time before saying, "Proceed on course, altitude at your discretion." Will you be ready to begin navigating your course from an unexpected point in space? This took a new pilot by surprise as described in the May 14, 2004, Training Tips.

One way to avoid having a traffic-separation vector complicate your flight is to practice such departures with your instructor on dual cross-countries, or even when departing on local training flights. Also remember that picking large, prominent visual checkpoints that will be quick to appear once you get headed back in the right direction simplifies everything. "You can follow railroads (aka 'the iron compass') from one town to the next or take the interstate (aka 'IFR-I fly roads'). The trick here is to pick easily identifiable checkpoints and to remember that what looks prominent on a chart may be practically invisible from the cockpit," wrote Thomas A. Horne in the May 1997 AOPA Pilot column "Measure of Skill: Navigation Necessities."

Altitude is your ally when looking for checkpoints. Even if you are still receiving radar traffic advisories from air traffic control, climbing is now at your discretion. "All that is required of the VFR pilot is to inform the controller that you are leaving your cruising altitude and climbing or descending to some other altitude. The controller likely will respond with 'Roger, maintain VFR,'" explained columnist Mark Twombly in the April 2005 AOPA Flight Training commentary "Continuing Ed: Traffic Advisories."

Another pointer: Keep track of how much time you spend flying away from your desired course, so you can establish your position on your sectional chart. Handling a hectic departure is routine if your situational awareness prepares you for it, letting your sharp navigational skills speed you on your way.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
Flight schools that have been pricing aviation training devices may want to consider the newest personal computer-assisted training device from Aviation Supplies and Academics. The On Top Basic ATD meets FAA requirements for a loggable training device, when flown under the supervision of a flight instructor, for 10 hours toward an instrument rating, up to six instrument approaches, holding procedures, intercepting and tracking navaids for instrument currency, 2.5 hours toward the private pilot certificate requirements, and any number of hours for proficiency training. The $3,995 retail price includes software, Cirrus II flight console with throttle quadrant, Cirrus rudder pedals, AV-1 avionics stack, user manual, and instructional guide with integrated ground/flight training syllabus. PC and monitor are not included. For more information, see the Web site.

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: Why is there often a difference between the magnetic variation for an airport and the VOR located at the same airport?

Answer: An airport's magnetic variation is determined by the isogonic line oriented toward magnetic north and is depicted for pilots as a magenta dashed line ( download the chart user's guide) on sectional charts. According to the National Aeronautical Charting Office, when a navaid is first constructed, the antenna is physically oriented to true north and then adjusted to magnetic north, matching the isogonic line and your magnetic compass in the airplane. The Airport/Facility Directory lists what the magnetic variation for the VOR is. The Earth's magnetic variation is constantly changing. The isogonic lines are adjusted accordingly on sectional charts, but the VOR will not be realigned until the tolerance is as at least +/- 6 degrees, creating the difference you've noticed. For those pilots who use GPS equipment for navigation, the databases do make appropriate adjustments for the most up-to-date magnetic variation. For additional information on magnetic variation, see AOPA Online.

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