The following stories from the October 20, 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 - Light Sport Aircraft Interest
MAN TO LOSE WEIGHT FOR WORLD-RECORD ATTEMPT
What does it take to fly a weight-shift-control light sport aircraft (LSA) to an altitude of 40,000 feet? Kristof Cappoen, who hopes to break a current world-record, is training for the feat at 15,000 feet, helping engineers modify the Rotax-powered Tanarg LSA he plans to fly, and learning how to identify air patterns and avoid the jet stream. Oh, and he personally has to lose 40 to 50 pounds (not that he's overweight or out of shape) to accommodate the weight of essential equipment needed on board the aircraft for the record-breaking attempt. The record he needs to surpass is 31,890 feet, which was set in France by a microlight weight-shift-control aircraft in 1994, according to the National Aeronautic Association.
My ePilot - Own/May Own Interest
If the frequency you fly slows down once the weather turns sour, use that extra time on the ground to give your airplane some TLC. Did you know that an oil-stained aircraft belly is a prime spot for corrosion? After getting your aircraft shined up, give it a good inspection for corrosion. Read what to look for in the AOPA Pilot Information Center's aircraft corrosion subject report, which includes links to articles from AOPA Pilot. A subject overview defines the different types of corrosion.
My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
WHAT'S THE OUTLOOK?
It's a brief, often cryptic sequence at the end of a long, detailed area forecast (FA). But the terse categorical outlook that appends the "VFR Clouds and Weather" section of an FA can speak volumes about whether a flight planned for the near future has a chance of launching.
Here's an example of a categorical outlook (OTLK). It appeared in an FA for the Northeast on AOPA's online weather when a complex weather system was approaching last week:
SERN NH...BKN060 TOP FL250. BECMG 1618 BKN015-025 BKN080 TOP 120
BKN CI. OTLK...IFR CIG.
VT-RMNDR NH...BKN050 OVC080 TOP FL250. 20Z BKN030-050 TOP 160 BKN
CI. WND SE G25KT. OTLK...MVFR CIG WND.
The OTLK for southeastern New Hampshire was for instrument conditions due to low ceilings. The OTLK for Vermont and the remainder of New Hampshire was for marginal VFR (MVFR) conditions due to ceilings. And there was "WND"-that's wind. How much wind? "The cause of LIFR (low IFR), IFR, or MVFR is indicated by either ceiling or visibility restrictions or both. The contraction "CIG" and/or weather and obstruction to vision symbols are used. If winds or gusts of 25 knots or greater are forecast for the outlook period, the word "WIND" is also included for all categories including VFR," explains Chapter 7 of the Aeronautical Information Manual. That much wind in a forecast is worth knowing about, as Thomas A. Horne's "Wx Watch" feature "Windwise" in the April 2005 AOPA Pilot confirms.
When getting weather information six or more hours before a flight, request an outlook briefing from flight service. "The briefer will provide available forecast data applicable to the proposed flight. This type of briefing is provided for planning purposes only. You should obtain a standard or abbreviated briefing prior to departure in order to obtain such items as adverse conditions, current conditions, updated forecasts, winds aloft and notams, etc.," explains the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. Download the chapter on weather theory.
It could be that the outlook briefing helps you make decisions regarding route of flight, altitude, and, possibly, the no-go decision in a timely way. So don't overlook the outlook briefing, and the categorical outlook in an FA, when researching weather before a flight. Read the fine print, and know the score!
My ePilot - Training Product
ONLINE COURSES FOCUS ON GLASS COCKPITS
Planning to get checked out in a glass-cockpit aircraft? Two new transition training courses are now available from Max Trescott, author of G1000 Glass Cockpit Handbook. The VFR course begins with a system overview and how to use the primary flight display, moving through radio operations, the engine indicating system, the multifunction display, flight planning, and autopilot use. Each section is followed by a short quiz. An IFR course is available. Each is $59.95 and can be downloaded from the Web site.
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: I was on a cross-country flight the other day. A thin layer of fog was lying over the top of a lake, which partially obscured the visibility in and around the immediate area. Is fog considered a cloud?
Answer: Although a non-flier would not typically identify fog as a cloud because it touches the ground, fog is indeed classified as a cloud. Its formation can be quick and possibly put you in the position of having to divert to an alternate airport. There are different types of fog that will be discussed during your training. For additional information on foggy conditions, review "All Fogged Up" from the May 2001 issue of AOPA Pilot.