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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 8, Issue 41AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 8, Issue 41

The following stories from the October 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
If you are planning to fly IFR to one last NASCAR race before the season ends in November or want to fly into a busy ski resort this winter, remember to get a slot reservation. The FAA has made some changes to its special traffic management procedures (STMP) for high-traffic events. Starting November 1, after you make a reservation for an arrival and departure slot, you will have to confirm that registration 12 to 24 hours before your slot time. Currently, it is between eight and 24 hours. Because many pilots request and confirm their reservation online, the FAA is planning to implement a security procedure in December: You will be required to reenter a randomly generated word shown on the computer screen before your reservation can be accepted. AOPA had advocated for the reservation confirmation because pilots had been booking multiple slots that they did not use. The association believes these changes should provide better access for all National Airspace System users. To find out if STMP is in effect for an event you plan to attend, see the Web site.

My ePilot - Helicopter Interest
Central Oregon Community College (COCC) in Bend, Oregon, has added a professional helicopter pilot option to its aviation program. Leading Edge Aviation at Bend Municipal Airport will provide the flight instruction. The flight school operates Robinson R22 and R44 models and Bell 206 helicopters. COCC will provide ground courses for college credit, allowing students to complete the program with an associate's degree as well as all flight certificates and ratings through instructor. The aviation program, begun in 2005, now has more than 60 students enrolled and "has grown past our expectations," said John Miller, COCC aviation program coordinator. "We are confident the same success will be seen from our helicopter program." For more information, see the Web site.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
BOX 13
Have you ever looked at Box 13 on the FAA's flight plan form and wondered who uses it and why? Perhaps it was explained to you that Box 13, which allows a pilot to designate an alternate airport (or airports) for a flight destination, does not apply to you. It is filled in by instrument-rated pilots filing an IFR flight plan when an alternate to the desired destination is required because of weather conditions.

But not so fast-Box 13 (download the flight plan form) can be of use to a student pilot too. "Because you are a VFR pilot does not mean you can't list an alternate on the flight plan. Most VFR pilots assume that no alternate is needed. But what if the winds are unfavorable at the original destination? Are you just going to hope that your skills and your aircraft can handle a 20-knot direct crosswind? It is better to land at an airport where runway alignment is more favorable. However, in-flight planning usually means a paper tornado in the cockpit. If winds are iffy at the destination, why not designate a VFR alternate on your VFR flight plan?" wrote Alton K. Marsh in his May 2001 AOPA Pilot feature "Ounce of Prevention: Quick and Legal Flight Planning." 

Clearly from that discussion, adding an alternate to your flight planning provides a measure of safety to your method and becomes a reason to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of airports you might someday designate as alternates. (Remember when planning solo flights that you may only land at airports for which your flight instructor has endorsed your logbook.) Considering alternates in advance will also make it easier to handle the diversion task on the private pilot practical test (download the practical test standards). A diversion is simply a decision to proceed to an alternate because of systems difficulties or weather conditions en route or at the destination. 

Once you've passed that practical test with flying colors, having the habit of considering alternates will boost your safety margins when, as a certificated private pilot, you begin giving rides to friends and family. So give Box 13 some attention the next time you plan a cross-country, or even a local flight.

My ePilot - Training Product
If you're learning to fly in a Symphony two-place aircraft, be advised that there's a student pilot kit developed just for you. The Symphony Student Pilot Kit, now available from Aviation Supplies and Academics, is based on ASA's Private Pilot Virtual Test Prep DVD course and The Complete Private Pilot Syllabus. It includes Bob Gardner's The Complete Private Pilot as the primary textbook, as well as ASA's FAR/AIM and Private Pilot Test Prep books. Finally, the kit comes with the Private Pilot Practical Test Standards, Private Oral Exam Guide, and Visualized Flight Maneuvers for High-Wing Aircraft, as well as a fiberboard E6-B flight computer, an Ultimate Rotating Plotter, and a standard pilot logbook. All materials are packaged in an ASA briefcase. The kit sells for $249. For more information or to order, see the Web site or call 800/272-2359.

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: Since starting my flight training, I have been amazed at the unique communications between ATC and pilots. I can't imagine how much practice it must take to become comfortable understanding and comprehending the fast-paced aviation talk. Do you have any suggestions to help me become more comfortable on the radio?

Answer: Gaining confidence in communicating with ATC starts with learning and using correct aviation phraseology on a regular basis. AOPA's subject report, ATC Communications, offers helpful hints on talking the talk. One of the articles, "Learning the Right Words," is specifically geared toward learning the basics. Additional information can be found in the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), Chapter 4, Section 2.

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