The following stories from the June 1, 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.
My ePilot – Professional Pilot Interest
SOAR INTO THE FLIGHT LEVELS WITH AOPA CAREER PILOT
Building hours toward your dream job as a captain? AOPA can help. The new AOPA Career Pilot Web site is filled with tips on career development, professional training (crew resource management in the cockpit), and information to help you understand sophisticated jets and turboprops. Plus, industry news about new regulations and the airlines—who's hiring or ordering new aircraft—will keep you up to speed on the airline industry.
My ePilot – Student Interest, Training Tips
A GOOD DEMONSTRATION
Nothing helps a student pilot learn a maneuver or grasp an aeronautical concept like a good demonstration of the idea. When it comes to learning the dangers of emergency situations such as an inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), a convincing demonstration of what’s at stake saves lives.
What's at stake? Simply this: A pilot not trained to control an aircraft without visual reference to the ground is likely to quickly experience spatial disorientation and lose control after entering clouds. Flight into IMC by noninstrument-rated pilots continues to be the cause of many fatal aircraft accidents.
You will practice recovery from unusual flight attitudes—that’s what happens when an aircraft begins to go out of control in IMC—during the phase of your training focused on flight solely by reference to instruments. (See the May 5, 2006, Training Tip, “Visual pilots, instrument weather” for a discussion of basic instrument training requirements.) At the beginning of this practice, your flight instructor will demonstrate how easily your kinesthetic senses can be deceived into delivering signals that contradict what your flight instruments are telling you about the aircraft’s attitude. A pilot flying solely by instruments must disregard this false sensory information to maintain control.
Experiencing is believing. That’s where a quality demonstration makes the lesson stick. “You will experience the confusion that results when your mind and the flight instruments generate conflicting information. When vertigo occurs—and it will—concentrate on the attitude indicator until the sensation subsides. To do this safely, you must know how to validate the attitude indicator and make certain that it's working properly,” wrote Ralph Butcher in “ Flying Safe,” discussing instrument training in the December 1999 AOPA Flight Training. See his instructor technique for inducing spatial disorientation. Was your training as effective as this method?
Although spatial disorientation is demonstrated to student pilots in conjunction with their basic instrument training, it can be a factor at other times, as during night flight. (See “ Answers for Pilots” in the September 2003 AOPA Pilot.) That’s another reason to let a well-delivered demonstration motivate you to practice your instrument flying skills and avoid situations where spatial disorientation is a threat.
My ePilot – Training Product
CALCULATE WEIGHT AND BALANCE WITH DIGITAL LUGGAGE SCALE
You and two friends are planning a weekend beach getaway. You’ve carefully calculated the weight and balance, and you know to the pound how much useful load is available for fuel, passengers, and baggage. As your friends climb out of their car and bring their luggage to the airplane, you have a sinking feeling that maybe they’ve overpacked. Find out for certain with Sporty’s digital luggage scale, a lightweight, easy-to-use scale that measures items up to 60 pounds. The scale operates on four watch batteries (included) and sells for $29.95. Order online or call 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: With the summer flying season upon us, I want to know more about density altitude and how it affects aircraft performance. Does AOPA have any information on this?
Answer: Yes, we have a lot of information. Density altitude involves understanding the interaction of altitude, atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity. High density altitude refers to thin air, and low density altitude refers to dense air. Conditions that result in high density altitude are high elevations, low atmospheric pressures, high temperatures, high humidity, or some combination of these factors. Aircraft performance is best in dense air and deteriorates gradually as the density altitude increases. On a hot day at a high elevation, you’ll notice this particularly on takeoff, where you may need twice the runway than needed in cooler temperatures at lower altitudes to get off the ground, and the aircraft will climb very slowly. This is particularly important to know if you’re flying in mountainous terrain. Find out more in AOPA’s subject report, Density Altitude, as well as the Air Safety Foundation’s interactive online course on mountain flying.