The following stories from the April 27, 2007, 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.
When you learn to land your trainer, you'll practice approaches in a variety of landing configurations (see the April 2, 2004, Training Tip "Why The Flap?"). But most normal landings are made with flaps fully deployed because the aircraft can touch down in a full stall at the lowest speed with full flaps. A full-flap landing therefore shortens ground runs and reduces the time needed to slow to taxi speed.
When the wind is blowing, your priorities for making a good landing change. Effectiveness of the flight controls, which decays as airspeed lessens, must be maintained at a high level to deal with the effects of turbulence. True, a short ground run is still desirable—but not at the expense of aircraft control, so a slightly faster approach is the answer. "To maintain good control, the approach in turbulent air with gusty crosswind may require the use of partial wing flaps. With less than full flaps, the airplane will be in a higher pitch attitude. Thus, it will require less of a pitch change to establish the landing attitude, and the touchdown will be at a higher airspeed to ensure more positive control," explains Chapter 8 of the FAA's Airplane Flying Handbook.
Retracting flaps can be a distraction after landing. "Using partial flaps offers the best of both worlds: They stabilize the approach but cause minimal problems on the runway because they are not fully deployed, and therefore don't need to be raised," observed Alton K. Marsh, examining ideas about flap use in his August 2004 AOPA Pilot feature "The Flap About Flaps." His conclusion: "The debate isn't over. There are as many answers as there are pilots. Flaps were originally invented because of the large number of accidents involving stalls. They increase lift, decrease stall speed, and allow a steeper angle of descent over an obstacle without accelerating past the final approach airspeed. They keep you safe at slower speeds and when operating from shorter runways. Use 'em if you got 'em, but be aware there may be times when they hinder more than they help."
My ePilot – Training Product
WHIZ WHEEL 101
The E6B flight computer is equally adored and reviled by pilots. Many stuff these handy items away in a flight bag after the private pilot checkride, preferring to let GPS units and computerized flight planners do the heavy lifting when it's time to figure true airspeed and wind correction angle. That's a shame, because E6Bs are handy tools to have in the cockpit, and the manual versions never need batteries. If you suffer from E6B anxiety, Mike Arman has written a book for you. Mastering the E-6B Flight Computer promises to show the reader how to do it all—density altitude, fuel required, wind triangles, conversions between Fahrenheit and Celsius, and more. The book sells for $23.95. For more information, see 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 am planning my first cross-country flight and have reviewed the charts and Airport/Facility Directory, and I have created a flight plan. But what are the fuel requirements when planning for such a flight?
Answer: FAR 91.151, "Fuel requirements for flight in VFR conditions," states: "No person may begin a flight in an airplane under VFR conditions unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and, assuming normal cruising speed—(1) During the day, to fly after that for at least 30 minutes; or (2) At night, to fly after that for at least 45 minutes." You will find AOPA's Real Time Flight Planner helpful for your flight planning. Read more about VFR fuel requirements in the AOPA Flight Training article "Learn what you burn: Fuel management fundamentals."