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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 8, Issue 51AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 8, Issue 51

The following stories from the December 22, 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 - Own/May Own Interest
When you're searching for a new-to-you aircraft, where to look can be the easiest part. Budget buys are featured in AOPA Pilot and a wealth of listings is available in Trade-A-Plane. Sometimes, the hard part is deciphering the ads you find. While abbreviations like SMOH and TBO are easy to understand, some of the more obscure ones could leave you scratching your head. Check out AOPA's tips for buying used aircraft for definitions of some common abbreviations found in advertisements.

My ePilot - Other Interest
The Soaring Society of America is getting back on track after it announced a financial crisis over unpaid taxes in August. So far, the association has filed its 2004 and 2005 tax forms with the IRS, and paid $208,000 in delinquent federal payroll withholding taxes and $56,000 in state withholding taxes. The organization borrowed the money from its SSA Foundation and will repay the debt with 8.25 percent interest. Alan Gleason, former SSA chief financial and administrative officer, was arrested in October on charges of alleged embezzlement but is now free on bail awaiting trial.

My ePilot - Student Interest, Training Tips
Have you ever noticed how little effort it seems to take when a skilled pilot maneuvers an aircraft? Climbs and descents seem to occur with no visible physical effort-suddenly you're level at a different altitude. Turns are smooth and skid-free, with no major manipulations of the controls visible. Observing this kind of pilot reveals a serene figure whose relaxed posture is both inspiring and reassuring.

Teaching yourself to relax while flying is more than just psychologically comforting-it makes you fly better. Smooth, well-coordinated control inputs are impossible if you are tensely clutching the control wheel or preoccupied with a fixation on an instrument to avoid busting an altitude or heading. Your instructor should be on the lookout for signs that tension is keeping you from flying your best. "When we first start instructing it's important we learn to look for nonverbal cues as well as listen to the verbal ones. Frustration, fear, misunderstanding, and a host of inner thoughts can be read in facial expressions and body language. A student doesn't have to say, 'Hey, I'm a little apprehensive here,' if he seems tense and has a death grip on the controls," wrote Budd Davisson in the October 2006 AOPA Flight Training Instructor Report column.

Often, all it takes is being reminded to relax to break the "death-grip" habit. If the tendency to clutch tightly remains strong, try this trick: Hold a pencil between your fingers in the hand that is gripping the yoke. "Most instructors solve the death-grip problem correctly: They make students let go of the yoke periodically to ensure that the airplane is in trim. If I had a dollar for every time that I've told a student to let go of the yoke, I'd be a millionaire," wrote Ralph Butcher in his aptly titled November 2004 AOPA Flight Training commentary "Insights: Airplane Strangulation."

Even a student pilot who is normally relaxed and happy in the cockpit may become prone to tension or fixation (read about it in the November 19, 2004, Training Tips) when fatigue sets in. So if you are not flying your best after a long day at the office or under the pressure of an approaching checkride, relax, take a deep breath-and release that iron grip on the aircraft!  

My ePilot - Training Product
If your logbook rides around in your flight bag, in your car, or elsewhere, there's always the possibility that it could get damaged. Aircraft Spruce and Specialty has introduced a line of lightweight logbook covers crafted out of nylon. Each includes a holder for two pens or pencils and a Velcro pocket that can hold gas receipts, licenses, or other papers. The covers come in two sizes and three colors. Prices are $21.50 (medium) and $23.95 (large). Order 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'm having a difficult time properly executing crosswind landings. Can you provide me with some suggestions on making better landings?

Answer: It takes two particular maneuvers-crab and side slip-to properly fly a successful crosswind landing. The crab is used to correct for wind drift so the airplane will track along the extended runway centerline once you are established on the final approach leg. On short final, you'll want to add the proper amount of rudder to keep the airplane's longitudinal axis parallel with the runway centerline while simultaneously applying aileron to lower the upwind wing in order to correct for drift and maintain alignment with the runway centerline. Once you transition into the flare, you may need to make small control adjustments to maintain these proper alignments. The proper combination of rudder and aileron is necessary to avoid subjecting the airplane to any side loads on the landing gear that could cause structural damage. Crosswind landings can be more of an art than a science, and practice can produce perfect crosswind landings, but only if you seek out the challenge next time the wind blows. For additional insight, review AOPA's Pilot Information Center subject report, "Windy Operations."

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