The following stories from the September 29, 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 - Helicopter Interest
HELICOPTER TEAM SEEKS U.S. AND WORLD RECORDS
The World Record Helicopter Team flew an OH-58 military helicopter round trip from Brown Field in San Diego to Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Savannah, Georgia, earlier this month in hopes of setting a U.S. round-trip transcontinental record. According to the team, they covered more than 4,000 nautical miles in three days and five-and-a-half hours total elapsed time, including an overnight stay because of thunderstorms. The team also has submitted a claim for a coast-to-coast world record for the first half of its trip from San Diego to Savannah. The records are still in the claim process with the National Aeronautic Association. The team hopes to fly a helicopter around the world next summer to beat a previous record set in 1996. Proceeds from the team's record flying attempts go to the Christian Foundation for Starving Children.
My ePilot - Other Interest
BALLOONIST TAKES DIFFERENT APPROACH TO FLYING
The next time you see a cluster of balloons flying through the sky, you just might find John Ninomiya in a harness attached to the end of them. Ninomiya, a hot-air balloon instructor with about 700 hours, has been flying cluster balloons since 1997. He's completed 47 cluster balloon flights, each taking place in the early morning or late-afternoon hours and lasting about one hour-just like conventional ballooning. So far, he's reached an altitude of 21,400 feet over a rural area in Riverside County east of Los Angeles. (Yes, he was equipped with a transponder, aircraft radio, and had advance permission from Los Angeles Center.) He is scheduled to make a cluster balloon flight on October 21 during the Shenandoah Valley Hot-Air Balloon and Wine Festival in Millwood, Virginia. View a photo of Ninomiya on a cluster balloon flight.
My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
LARGE AIRPORT OPERATIONS
What issues come to mind when you think about flying in and out of airports that serve large aircraft? Size and complexity, for one. Knowing how to taxi from runways to ramps and back-taking care to avoid a runway incursion-is of paramount importance. Studying the airport diagram in AOPA's Airport Directory Online is a great way to prepare.
Wake turbulence-it's a concern for general aviation pilots operating in proximity to larger aircraft. When landing behind a large aircraft, or taking off after it, visualize its wake generation and the wake's likely drift under existing wind conditions. Stay above the other aircraft's flight path; this means getting airborne during takeoff before the other aircraft's rotation point and landing beyond its touchdown point, especially if you have been cleared to follow a large aircraft on approach. In such cases, the air traffic controller's instructions include the phrase "Caution, wake turbulence." Consider hazards originating on nearby runways, such as wingtip vortices that could drift into your path from a parallel runway. See the January 24, 2003, Training Tips article "Staying Clear of the Wake."
Large aircraft also present hazards on the ground. Give wide berth to any large aircraft that seems active. Keep a sharp lookout for nearby aircraft movements while you perform checklists. "Prop and jet blast forces generated by large aircraft have overturned or damaged several smaller aircraft taxiing behind them. To avoid similar results, and in the interest of preventing upsets and injuries to ground personnel from such forces, the FAA recommends that air carriers and commercial operators turn on their rotating beacons anytime their aircraft engines are in operation. General aviation pilots using rotating-beacon-equipped aircraft are also encouraged to participate in this program, which is designed to alert others to the potential hazard," recommends Chapter 4 of the Aeronautical Information Manual.
Tower controllers at busy airports may use "taxi into position and hold" clearances to save time. Just after one aircraft takes off or lands, another is cleared onto the runway but must hold for takeoff clearance until the preceding aircraft is safely off. An effective method is explored in "Accident Analysis: Surface Operation Smarts" in the October 2002 AOPA Flight Training. But be sure to understand the pitfalls of this method, and remember, as pilot in command you have the authority to decline a taxi-into-position-and-hold clearance if you feel uncomfortable. For more information about towered airports, download the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Operations at Towered Airports Safety Advisor. Know the flow, and reap the rewards of large airport ops!
My ePilot - Training Product
AIRCRAFT SPRUCE INTRODUCES HOLDING PATTERN AID
Holding procedures are an integral part of training for the instrument rating, and learning how to correctly enter and maintain a holding pattern is an important concept. Aircraft Spruce has introduced an aid designed to help you visualize a holding pattern and determine how to enter it correctly. The Holding Pattern Aid is a transparent gyro overlay that has a printout of teardrop and direct entry patterns. Place the arrow on the radial that you were instructed to hold, and the holding pattern is overlaid on your heading indicator. The package of four overlays includes two right-hand and two left-hand peel-and-stick entry diagrams that you can affix to the window when you're not using them. The package sells for $8.96 and can be ordered online or by calling 877/4-SPRUCE.
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 a P-lead?
Answer: A P-lead is a wire that grounds a magneto to prevent it from working. When performing a magneto check during your runup prior to takeoff, one of the items you are testing is the P-lead. A disconnected P-lead on either magneto means that the ignition cannot be shut off in flight or on the ground. No drop in rpm during your magneto check could be an indication of a broken P-lead. To learn more about P-leads, magnetos, and the entire ignition system, read "The Magneto Check: What are you looking for?" from AOPA Flight Training.