The following stories from the June 2, 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
INSTRUMENT OPS THROUGH MIDWEST TO CHANGE IN JUNE
Pilots flying IFR through the Midwest should be prepared for some routing changes starting June 8 when the FAA's Midwest Airspace Enhancement project takes effect. The project is an airspace flow and route redesign that changes terminal arrival and departure corridors along with 158 preferred routes, most of which are in high-altitude airspace, in order to alleviate delays at Cleveland Hopkins International, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, and instrument operations at surrounding GA airports. AOPA participated in user meetings to mitigate the effect the redesign would have on GA. Download a list of the new routes.
My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
S-TURNS ON FINAL
A pilot generated some vigorous responses with a question to the AOPA Online Aviation Forum about an unexpected instruction that he received in the traffic pattern of a tower-controlled airport: "I had my first request to 'make a big S-turn to your left for spacing.' I immediately turned about 80 degrees left, leveled off, and heard 'cleared to land.' Did I overdo it? Just how big are S-turns on final expected to be?"
Answers flowed in, as did a few "war stories." Perhaps the key to understanding the situation is to ask: What was the maneuver designed to accomplish?
A request to fly S-turns on final (or a 360-degree turn on the downwind leg) is designed to increase the separation between aircraft established in a landing sequence. Perhaps a landing aircraft has taken too much time clearing the runway. Perhaps an overtaking aircraft is making a faster approach than the tower controller expected, and things are getting a bit tight. The controller is resorting to nonstandard-but generally accepted and understood-measures. But the outcome will depend on how well the pilot executing the delaying maneuver grasps the situation. [For other nonstandard procedures that controllers sometimes use, see the list provided in the comprehensive article "Operations at Towered Airports," from the November 1998 Flight Training.]
To a new pilot, especially one whose training extolled the virtues of stabilized approaches, the idea of aggressive maneuvering at low airspeed and altitude is unnerving. So remember that if instructed to perform this kind of maneuver, gentle coordinated turns will do the job. Don't come up with a substitute method of your own. "Unexpected maneuvers or non-standard patterns create collision hazards-avoid them. An alternative that seems obvious but is surprisingly under-employed is to slow down! For inexperienced pilots, the urge is strong not to deviate from speeds, configurations, and power settings that you were taught for the pattern," noted the June 17, 2005, Training Tips. The controller may well approve your offer to simply reduce airspeed a bit.
Suppose he doesn't, and you're feeling unable to comply with the request. There is another resource at your disposal, as posted in a thank-you note by the pilot who raised the original question: "When in doubt you can always tell the tower you'd rather to go around." Always good advice when the squeeze is on.
My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
ASA OFFERS TOOL TO HELP YOU FIND, PURCHASE AN AIRPLANE
Sometimes the toughest part about buying an airplane isn't securing the money-it's figuring out what type of bird is going to work best for you and the type of flying that you generally do. Is it a two-seater that's easy on the fuel consumption? Or should you go for the four-seater so that you can make longer trips with more passengers? And once you narrow it down, which manufacturer has the right airplane for you? James E. Ellis examines this and more in the third edition of his book, Buying and Owning Your Own Airplane, published by Aviation Supplies and Academics. ASA says the latest edition reflects the huge impact of the Internet since the second edition was published, noting that there are numerous Web sources of information now to be explored. Other updates include a look at the new generation of general aviation aircraft developed during the 1990s and an examination of fractional ownership programs. The book sells for $19.95 and can be ordered online.
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: Do all weather products give wind information relative to true north?
Answer: No. According to Advisory Circular 00-45E, weather reports and forecasts such as a METAR, TAF, or winds aloft forecast (FD) all report winds with respect to true north. An automatic terminal information service (ATIS) broadcast or an automated weather reporting station will report wind direction with respect to magnetic north, as stated in Chapter 4 of the Aeronautical Information Manual. A tower controller may provide wind direction information for their airport location by obtaining wind information from a direct readout dial, wind shear detection system, or automated weather observing system, meaning the wind information will also be in reference to magnetic north. For additional information on wind direction, see AOPA Online.