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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 8, Issue 49AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 8, Issue 49

The following stories from the December 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 - Personal/Recreational Interest
Dozens of pilots descended on Tangier Island last weekend to spread Christmas cheer during the Thirty-ninth Annual Tangier Holly Run. They delivered bags of fresh holly for residents to use as decoration because few of the trees grow on the Chesapeake Bay island. The annual event started with the late Edward H. Nabb flying one bag of holly to friends on the island and has grown to attract as many 40 pilots, according to the Delmarva Daily Times . Even Old Saint Nick was on hand to help deliver the holly-and some early Christmas presents to children.

My ePilot - Light Sport Aircraft Interest
Van's Aircraft RV-12, the company's first light sport aircraft (LSA), has racked up nearly 10 hours of flight test time since its first 30-minute flight on November 9. The company does not yet have accurate performance figures for the aircraft, but according to Dick VanGrusven, CEO of Van's Aircraft, the LSA flies well and has good climb performance and conventional slow flight and stall characteristics.

My ePilot - Helicopter Interest
A recent incident in which the pilot of a Eurocopter EC-135 tried to takeoff without disengaging the cyclic stick control lock, resulting in a hard landing, has prompted the FAA to issue a Safety Alert for Operators. The alert states that several accidents and incidents have resulted from pilots trying to take off without ensuring their helicopters were ready for flight. The FAA requests that operators and pilots take a look at their training programs and operational procedures, like checklists, to ensure that all preflight information is listed for pilots.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
What's your standard for passing the FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Test? A passing grade? Better? Don't kid yourself, results matter. Not only does achieving a high score on the knowledge test help present you to your flight-test examiner as a well-prepared applicant, but it also gives you a valuable asset-knowledge! There's also the matter of complying with a section of FAR 61.39, practical test prerequisites. The relevant portion states that an applicant for a flight test must be certified by his or her flight instructor as having "demonstrated satisfactory knowledge of the subject areas in which the applicant was deficient on the airman knowledge test." Be assured, an applicant who shows up for a flight test with a knowledge-test grade barely above 70 percent (the minimum passing score) will be in for some scrutiny. (A good resource for knowledge-test study is AOPA Online's library of Airman Knowledge Test Questions. Click on the appropriate test and get right to work!)

It's not uncommon for the knowledge test to be spoken of, sometimes even by flight instructors, as something to "get out of the way." This could mislead a new student pilot into underestimating the importance of the exam, as explained above. A new student also hears a wide variety of advice about when to take the test. Opinions vary on this point because there is no required moment in training for taking it, except that it must be taken and passed before taking the flight test. Also, the knowledge-test results "expire" after 24 months.

What to do? Some sound guidance is offered in the September 2003 commentary "Preflight" by AOPA Flight Training Editor Mike Collins: "When I'm asked, I suggest that beginning students study their choice of ground-school material concurrently with their flight lessons. Certain things, such as VOR and NDB navigation, can be much easier to comprehend when flight training can complement the bookwork. I think that an ideal time for most students to take the knowledge test is just before beginning their solo cross-countries; by then their flight training should have exposed them to all the knowledge-test subject areas." Aim high on your knowledge test, then maintain that standard throughout your pilot training.  

My ePilot - Training Product
If you have a holiday tree ornament commemorating your new home, your baby, or your grandchild, why not have an ornament that recalls your training airplane? Thanks to Sporty's custom airplane ornaments, you can order a leaded glass ornament with a silhouette of a low-wing, high-wing, taildragger, or twin-engine aircraft, and have it inscribed with the airplane's N number or with a one-line message of up to 20 characters. The ornament costs $29.95 and may be ordered online or by calling 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: I am interested in learning more about VFR chart symbols so I can better interpret them while planning a flight. What resource can I use to gain a better understanding of the symbols used?

Answer: If the chart legend does not depict the symbol, you can refer to the Aeronautical Chart User's Guide published by the FAA's National Aeronautical Charting Office. It includes a large section covering VFR chart terms and symbols that you can download. Topics include: aeronautical (airports and radio aids); topographic (populated areas and man-made versus natural obstructions/features); hydrography (shorelines, lakes, and streams); and relief (mountain contours, mountain passes, and quarries). Additional insight into chart symbols and airspace classes is available by downloading the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Advisor, Airspace for Everyone .

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