The following stories from the May 5, 2006, 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 - Light Sport Aircraft Interest
AMPHIBIOUS AIRCRAFT RECEIVES EXEMPTION FOR LSA CATEGORY
The FAA recently granted an exemption for Czech Aircraft Works to offer its amphibious Mermaid aircraft in the special light sport aircraft (LSA) category. The exemption was necessary for the Mermaid to enter the LSA market because it has retractable gear. The aircraft meets all of the other LSA consensus standards. The exemption applies only to Czech Aircraft Works' Mermaid; a copy of the exemption must be supplied to each person who buys the aircraft, and it must be carried on board the aircraft. The Mermaid also will have a special placard, and sport pilots planning to fly the aircraft must receive special ground and flight training.
My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
VISUAL PILOTS, INSTRUMENT WEATHER
When you reach the stage within the private pilot training program that covers controlling and maneuvering an airplane solely by reference to instruments, you will be doing a lot more than merely meeting one more aeronautical experience requirement. The minimum three hours of flight training in this topic should make up a brief but attention-getting mini-course on the perils that a non-instrument pilot straying into instrument meteorological conditions will face.
To satisfy the experience requirement, you must log "three hours of flight training in a single-engine airplane on the control and maneuvering of an airplane solely by reference to instruments, including straight and level flight, constant airspeed climbs and descents, turns to a heading, recovery from unusual flight attitudes, radio communications, and the use of navigation systems/facilities and radar services appropriate to instrument flight." A true encounter with instrument conditions could easily require a non-instrument pilot to perform all those tasks.
The point of this training is that something called "spatial disorientation" makes it hard-or impossible-for a pilot not trained in instrument flying to keep control and escape to safety. "What is spatial disorientation? Technically, it is an erroneous sense of one's position and motion relative to the plane of the Earth's surface. Practically speaking, it's an incorrect sense of position, attitude, or motion in relation to what is actually happening in the airplane. Still a little confused? One of my students put it nicely when he said that it's just not knowing which way is really up when you're flying," explained Richard J. Hackman, O.D., in the February 2002 AOPA Pilot feature "Which Way Is Up? Spatial Disorientation-A Primer."
While training, sample a variety of flight conditions: smooth air, turbulence, day dual lessons, night dual lessons. Start with short periods, then build up your ability to stay "on the gauges" longer. Remember that learning to believe your instruments is essential. For more ideas about your basic instrument training, and other reference materials, see the February 8, 2002, Training Tips.
The practical test will require you to demonstrate three or more of five instrument-flying tasks. But let the training prove the importance of using your judgment and situational awareness to protect you from ever having an inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions.
My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
LEARN MORE ABOUT AIRSPACE, WEATHER WITH SPORTY'S DVD
Need a tutorial-or a refresher course-on airspace or weather? Sporty's latest DVD, Airspace and Weather Format Review, combines the two topics in one resource. The program uses 3-D graphics and animation to illustrate today's complex airspace. It explains the various classes of airspace and their operating rules, dimensions, and charting symbols. Included is a discussion of temporary flight restrictions, national security areas, military intercept procedures, and the Washington, D.C., ADIZ and its laser-based Visual Warning System. The weather portion of the DVD examines the ICAO weather formats and abbreviations of METARs and TAFs. Viewers will learn to read and interpret aviation weather reports and extract additional clues that they provide about atmospheric conditions. The program also covers the basics of ASOS and AWOS reports and includes an interactive on-screen weather decoder for more than 1,500 weather contractions. The DVD sells for $29.95 and may be ordered online or by calling 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 the difference between a VASI and a PAPI?
Answer: A visual approach slope indicator (VASI) and a precision approach path indicator (PAPI) are designed to provide visual descent guidance information during an approach to a runway. The lights in both systems are usually placed on the left side of the runway and visible from about five miles during the day and up to 20 miles at night. Typically these systems provide a glidepath of 3 degrees unless adjustments need to be made for obstacle clearance. One difference between the two systems is in how the lights are arranged. A VASI may consist of two, four, six, 12, or 16 light units arranged in bars referred to as near, middle, and far. Typically you'll see a two-bar format with either two, four, or 12 light units containing red and white lights. A PAPI has only a single row of either two or four light units containing red and white lights. A PAPI also provides a pilot with trend information on an approach. To view examples of these two systems and to learn how to interpret the lights you see, review Chapter 2 of the Aeronautical Information Manual. For more information on the VASIs and the PAPIs, visit AOPA Online.