The following stories from the June 8, 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 – Student Interest, Training Tips
MANAGING SURPRISES SOLO
When you begin to solo, your flight instructor presents a clear and straightforward script for your flights alone. However, you wouldn't be going on this well-rehearsed mission unless the CFI believed that you could cope with any surprises. Whether it is handling an emergency with your aircraft, or an unexpected development such as a wind change or a sudden increase in traffic, you can handle it. "The goal of soloing is to prove, to the student and the rest of the flying world, that enough knowledge and skill have been implanted to allow command of the air," LeRoy Cook wrote in the May 2006 AOPA Flight Training feature "When will I solo?"
All the piloting tools you have learned are at your disposal now; you'll just have to make decisions completely on your own. You know that executing a go-around is prudent if a landing approach is not coming together or if traffic down below is not clearing the runway in time. Extending your traffic pattern or slowing down helps with spacing while airborne. Terminating the flight early if traffic seems to be getting uncomfortably heavy is a command decision—go ahead and make it if you feel that shortening the flight is best. The main thing to remember, if things take an unexpected turn, is to "Relax!" as recommended in the December 22, 2006, Training Tip, and fly with a smooth, confident touch while you sort out the complications. Don't rush your actions or attempt to get on the ground too quickly. This is a common mistake that causes mishaps.
Moderately challenging circumstances for solo are a good thing, but don't push it. Talk to your instructor about any discomfort you experience while soloing at your usual base. Finding a better place for conducting this training can enhance both learning and safety. "The solo environment matters. If there's a more suitable airport nearby, consider staging those first few solos from there, after a suitable period of dual familiarization," was the advice rendered in the April 2007 AOPA Flight Training Accident Analysis column, which focused on "First solo follies."
Most solos go according to plan. But if you find yourself face to face with the unexpected, relax, fly smoothly, and meet the challenge with confidence.
My ePilot – Training Product
KEEP A LIGHT HANDY WITH SPORTY'S MAGLITE
A good, sturdy flashlight is a handy addition to your flight bag that will prove its usefulness time and again—on night flights, checking hard-to-see areas under the cowling, and more. Sporty's offers a light-emitting-diode Mini Maglite with an accessory kit that includes a red lens—just right for cockpit use during night flights, as the red lens won't interfere with your night vision. The Mini Maglite is approximately six inches long and weighs just four ounces, so it won't take up much room. The flashlight with kit is $39.95. 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: Why should we reduce airspeed when we encounter turbulence?
Answer: Reducing the airspeed when flying in turbulence reduces the load factor on the aircraft. Here's why: In straight-and-level flight, all forces affecting flight are balanced. However, when the wing's angle of attack (AOA) suddenly increases, as it does in turbulence, you feel the increased load factor, or G-force, that pushes you back into your seat. Read more in the article "A new look at maneuvering speed" and in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Advisor, Maneuvering Flight—Hazardous to your Health?