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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 8, Issue 2AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 8, Issue 2

The following stories from the January 13, 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 - Instrument Interest
What's the key to safe instrument flying? Skills, knowledge, and judgment are all a must, but judgment plays a critical role. "You may know all about ILS approaches, for example, and be able to fly one with great precision," writes Thomas A. Horne in "Secrets for staying alive" in the December 1998 AOPA Pilot. "But if you're low on fuel, passed up an airport with better weather, and are now shooting an ILS to minimums at an airport surrounded by high terrain, you flunk the judgment test." Horne explains how gradual immersion into instrument flying, practice, and common sense can help reduce your risk. Check out Horne's seven secrets to safe instrument flying.

My ePilot - Light Sport Aircraft Interest
The special light sport aircraft (SLSA) market can expand in a new direction now. The FAA announced that it has accepted the consensus standards for weight-shift-control LSAs, which clears the way for trikes to be sold as ready-to-fly LSAs. Consensus standards for gliders have yet to be approved.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
This is the time of year when it seems like everyone has a cold, including yourself. And if it is anything like the last one you had, it could mean days or even weeks of recovery and congestion. If you have read the discussions about aeromedical factors, you are familiar with the warnings about not flying while sick. Resist the temptation to dismiss this warning when faced with the rare opportunities to pursue your flight training during a long stormy winter.

Changes in ambient air pressure, combined with blocked ears or sinuses, are a recipe for serious problems if a pilot (or a passenger in an unpressurized aircraft) becomes afflicted. Problems usually occur during descent. "When the pressure outside your head is greater than the pressure in it, you feel like somebody has run a hot knife into your cheek. The pain can be excruciating, and I know of several accidents that have happened because of this," Senior Aviation Medical Examiner Al Parmet wrote in the March 1998 Flight Training feature "Medical Briefing: Don't Fly With a Cold."

This subject is discussed in Chapter 8 of the Aeronautical Information Manual. Note the chapter's warning about trying to use medicine to combat the problem: "An ear block is prevented by not flying with an upper respiratory infection or nasal allergic condition. Adequate protection is usually not provided by decongestant sprays or drops to reduce congestion around the Eustachian tubes. Oral decongestants have side effects that can significantly impair pilot performance."

A related issue is fatigue. If you are on the mend, but illness has left you weak and exhausted from lack of sleep or an unrelenting work schedule, you are not yet ready to return. Flying and fatigue don't mix, as discussed in the February 21, 2003, Training Tips article. See the article's review of the "I'm safe" acronym that pilots use to gauge their personal fitness for flight. Applying it to your piloting will help you protect yourself, and your future passengers, from the harmful effects of flying when your condition is in question.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
Instrument pilots, instrument students, and pilots who simply want a better understanding of the air traffic control system may want to check out the latest "Air Facts" DVD from Sporty's. Understanding ATC-An Instrument Pilot's Perspective offers a look behind the scenes via a visit to Indianapolis Center and Syracuse Tracon. Meet controllers and take a look at the equipment they use as part of the ATC system. The DVD explains what controllers expect from pilots operating in the IFR system and what you should expect from them in all phases of flight. It is available for $25. A set of all 31 "Air Facts" titles on nine DVDs sells for $100. For more information, see the Web site 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: Occasionally I've heard pilots and air traffic controllers add the word "heavy" after the airplane call sign. Why do pilots and controllers do this, and what does the designation represent?

Answer: Advisory Circular 90-23F, titled Aircraft Wake Turbulence, helps answer your questions. Pilots and controllers are to use the "heavy" designation if the airplane they are flying is capable of a takeoff weight greater than 255,000 pounds. This classification is important for air traffic controllers in providing appropriate wake turbulence separation to aircraft receiving traffic advisories. The other classes of aircraft are large and small. An aircraft whose potential takeoff weight is greater than 41,000 pounds but not more than 255,000 pounds is considered large. An aircraft whose takeoff weight is equal to 41,000 pounds or less is considered a small aircraft. For additional information on wake turbulence and how to avoid it while flying, view Chapter 7 of the Aeronautical Information Manual. Also, view AOPA Online for more information on the dangers of wake turbulence.

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