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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 8, Issue 23AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 8, Issue 23

The following stories from the June 9, 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 - Piston Single Engine Interest
You've seen wild approaches to landing: pilots diving for the runway or even seemingly trying to tame a bucking bronco on final. (Maybe you've flown those approaches yourself.) AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Thomas A. Horne offers some tips to help you consistently fly a smooth approach. In "Flying Final," in the July 2003 issue of AOPA Pilot, Horne says the key is "knowing how to control pitch, power, and configuration to achieve an optimal airspeed and descent profile." Once you find the settings that work well, Horne suggests you jot them down to use as target values. "It's always best to stick to a target configuration and power setting for each and every 'normal' approach," he says. "Make sure you have target values for short-field, soft-field, and spot landings in your bag of tricks, too."

My ePilot - Light Sport Aircraft Interest
Pacific Aerosystem has created an option for disabled pilots on the Sky Arrow 600 Sport that allows a pilot to work the rudders with a control stick on the left side of the cockpit. The hand control is always connected to the rudder; however, the handle can be removed to make it easier for ingress and egress or for a pilot who wants to use the rudder pedals directly. The rudder control stick also includes throttle control. Another throttle also is located on the left side of the aircraft for operation without the option. Pitch, bank, trim, and radio push-to-talk controls all are on a control stick on the right. Handbrakes come standard on the right side of the cockpit. Sky Arrows sell for about $75,000, and the disabled pilot option runs $3,338. For more information, visit the Web site.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
Have you ever made a decision to fly based on your weather briefing and soon discovered that you made the wrong decision? Perhaps some fluky weather came along, but more likely, you overlooked or underestimated a warning that lurked in the information you received.

If you found the experience discouraging or unnerving, take heart: It happens to all pilots at times and is part of the learning process. In the long run, the lessons you learn from making a bad call will serve you well. An immediate benefit is learning to apply caution when evaluating seemingly obvious weather conditions. Another is knowing that on any flight, things can change in a hurry, whether forecast or not.

None of this is to say that your decision to fly or stay on the ground must perfectly predict all possible short-term weather. The standard against which you will be judged, as given in the Private Pilot Practical Test Standards, has two parts. First, you must be able to evaluate weather information from a number of sources (especially those on the list in the Weather Information Task in Area of Operation I, Preflight Preparation). Second, you must make "a competent go/no-go decision based on available weather information."

A good rule to go by is that "competent" starts with skeptical. Deciding not to fly because of doubts about the weather is a decision that tends to torment pilots when a calm, sunny day shows up instead. But that's better, and safer, than the alternative. Whenever you fly, make mental notes of how closely actual conditions match up against the forecast. Remain alert for changes, updating your weather briefing regularly. Updated briefings were the subject of the July 8, 2005, Training Tips.

That's good practice before and during a flight. A seemingly sound decision made at the beginning of a flight may have to be modified, as Thomas A. Horne described in his October 2001 AOPA Pilot feature, "The Rolling Go/No-Go Decision." Stay receptive to new information, thereby staying "competent" to make decisions about the conditions for your flight.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Products
For ease of mind in the traffic pattern and elsewhere, you should always know the crosswind component that you're about to face. Sometimes this is difficult to calculate on the fly, as it were, using the charts provided in a pilot's operating handbook. Sporty's Crosswind Calculator is designed to help you compute crosswind and headwind components just before takeoff and landing. The "whiz wheel" design lets you make these determinations just by knowing the runway in use, wind direction, and wind speed. It sells for $12.95. Order online 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: What flight experience is required to be in my logbook?

Answer: Federal Aviation Regulation 61.51 discusses pilot logbooks. This regulation outlines what aeronautical experience should be recorded, what information is required in the entry, and other specifics on logging time. It states that you must maintain a record of all training and aeronautical experience used to meet the requirements of a certificate, rating, or flight review covered in Part 61. Therefore, the training you complete with your flight instructor (both on the ground and in the air) as well as your solo time should be recorded so it can be used toward the requirements for the pilot certificate you seek. In addition, once you obtain your pilot certificate, your recent flight experience, as required by Part 61, would also be required to be recorded. For additional information on logbooks and logging time, see AOPA Online.

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