The following stories from the September 8, 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 FAILURES: FINDING THE PROBLEM
An instrument failure in actual IFR conditions can be difficult to detect immediately. Retired TWA captain Barry Schiff shares a three-step method to help you discover which system or individual instrument has failed in "Proficient Pilot: Attitude Problems" in the February 2004 AOPA Pilot. "I could not locate an organized method of coping with the confusion and chaos that can result from insidious instrument failure. Each instructor seems to teach this subject in his own way," Schiff writes. "This led me to develop the following three-step plan of attack. I make no claim that it is a magic bullet, but it is better than no plan at all and is one that I have taught for years." Find out how your plan compares. You might learn something new.
My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
FLYING TOWARD FALL
As summer gives way to fall, think about what it means for your flight training. While there might be fewer daylight hours available for flying, it's much easier to work in those required night hours. The convergence of temperature and dew point in the evening, however, means fog, just as it did during the balmy days of July. But once the dew point slips below freezing, frost, with its nasty implications for the aerodynamic efficiency of airfoils, could form. See Tom Horne's column "Wx Watch: Dew Point Review" in the March 2003 AOPA Pilot. Remember to remove (or polish smooth) all frost on airfoil surfaces before your early morning flights. There's no such thing as an innocent coating of frost on a leading edge of a wing or tail; the disruption of airflow it can cause must be respected and eliminated. No problem because your aircraft is kept in a warm hangar? You're fortunate. But watch out for a trap: An airplane towed outside for a dawn flight could cool off enough to accumulate frost. So be wary!
There's good news about the onset of cooler conditions. Density altitude comes down along with air temperatures, letting you calculate (and experience) your aircraft's climb performance in its healthier realms-reassuring when operating out of high-elevation airports. You'll be surprised how much more quickly you reach cruise altitude. Thunderstorms appear less often this time of year. It stands to reason that in the absence of the convection that breeds thunderstorms, thermal turbulence (see the June 30, 2006, Training Tips) abates, promising flights that stay smoother longer.
The junction of summer and fall also heralds hurricane season. You might be surprised how these storms' possible tracks can raise concerns for pilots well removed from the center of the weather systems. See how a hurricane that struck in 2004 posed questions for pilots, as examined in the September 2005 AOPA Flight Training column "The Weather Never Sleeps: Handicapping Hurricanes."
As always, seasonal changes in flight conditions bring advantages and disadvantages. Find ways to make current conditions work for you as your training moves along.
My ePilot - Training Product
MAGNIFICO PLUS BOOSTS GPS DISPLAY
OfficeontheGogo.com, which specializes in accessories for personal digital assistants, recently introduced a magnifier designed especially for handheld GPS receivers and PDAs. The Magnifico Plus utilizes an acrylic lens to magnify your GPS display two and one-half times. Its clamshell design fits onto your GPS using two pieces of Velcro (included) that you attach to the GPS or PDA. Retracted, the magnifier can fit into a shirt pocket. The suggested retail price is $49.95; the unit is available for less at Aircraft Spruce & Specialty and Wicks Aircraft Supply.
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: If asked, who am I required to present my student pilot certificate to?
Answer: Under 14 CFR 61.3(l), each person who holds an airman certificate, medical certificate, authorization, or license required by Part 61 must present it for inspection upon request from the FAA; an authorized representative of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB); any federal, state, or local law enforcement officer; or an authorized representative of the Transportation Security Administration. Additionally, 14 CFR 61.51(i) states, upon a reasonable request from the FAA, NTSB, or any federal, state, or local law enforcement officer, a person must present his or her pilot certificate, medical certificate, logbook, or any other record required by Part 61. For information on ramp checks, visit AOPA's subject report online.