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AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 9, Issue 3AOPA Online Members Only -- AOPA ePilot Custom Content -- Vol. 9, Issue 3

The following stories from the January 19, 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 – Renter Interest
If your flying budget won't let you fly as often as you feel necessary to stay proficient, read Julie K. Boatman's article, "The One-Hour Pilot Tuneup," in the June 2006 AOPA Pilot. While most pilots agree proficiency can't be maintained by flying once a month, Boatman provides tips from AOPA members on how VFR and IFR pilots can work toward proficiency, or at least knock off the rust, even when time or finances limit you to one flight hour a month. She also provides a profile of a sample proficiency flight. ( See more suggestions from other AOPA members.)

My ePilot – Piston Single-Engine Interest
Are you prepared for an engine failure? Bruce Bohannon, who has set time-to-climb and altitude records in the single-engine Flyin' Tiger, has had at least 20 engine outs—in part because he pushes his aircraft to the extreme—according to Alton K. Marsh in "The Prop Stops Here," in the August 2006 AOPA Pilot. But Bohannon prepares for those possibilities by simulating engine outs at different points in the traffic pattern and at various altitudes. Read Marsh's article to see Bohannon's advice, along with tips from instructors the world over.

My ePilot – Other Interest
It can take off and land in your driveway, and it can jump more than 150 feet vertically into the air. It is the CarterGyro Demonstrator/Trainer created by Carter Aviation Technologies. The gyro registered a 2.25-G load on vertical takeoff during a recent test flight, according to test pilot George Mitchell, who said, "It's not something you do with the average gyro." But this isn't your average gyro. The company started with a stock autogyro kit, then put on their own specially designed propeller, rotor, and landing gear. The landing gear has a 14-inch stroke that is supposed to absorb the impact of a 6-G landing but has only been tested to 3.5 Gs. "We now have a vehicle that can safely take off from your driveway, fly 200 miles, and then safely land and take off from a truck stop to refuel, or a restaurant to eat, or a hotel where you can spend the night," said Carter President and CEO Jay Carter Jr. The CarterGyro is serving as the precursor to the Personal Air Vehicle prototype, which the company hopes to unveil later this year.

My ePilot – Student Interest, Training Tips
An altitude that assures terrain clearance at all times is a basic safety factor pilots use when planning a flight. A phenomenon called CFIT causes many accidents, especially at night. "CFIT, which stands for controlled flight into terrain, is defined by the FAA as an airworthy aircraft that is under the control of a qualified pilot and is flown into terrain, like water or obstacles, with inadequate awareness on the part of the pilot of the impending collision. From 1995 to 2004, there were 267 fatal accidents as a result of CFIT in night VFR conditions," explained the Quiz Me section of the June 23, 2006, AOPA ePilot.

As a pilot, you shoulder the responsibility under federal aviation regulations to inform yourself fully about a planned flight. A good way to begin your safe-altitude research is to note maximum elevation figures (MEFs) within the sectional chart grids through which your course line passes. Consider MEFs in adjoining grids for extra safety. MEFs represent "the highest elevation, including terrain and other vertical obstacles (towers, trees, etc.) within a quadrant. A quadrant on sectionals is the area bounded by ticked lines dividing each 30 minutes of latitude and each 30 minutes of longitude. MEF figures are depicted to the nearest 100' value," explains the Aeronautical Chart User's Guide, which you can download from AOPA Online.

Next, study the Airport/Facility Directory and notams for details and recently released information on obstructions and their lighting. "Two kinds of physical obstacles confront a pilot when planning or conducting a flight. First are the obstacles in the vicinity of the airport; they require us to be sure we can obtain the aircraft performance needed to safely take off or land over them. The second type of obstacle consists of those we must overfly or circumnavigate during the en route phase of the flight," explained the August 8, 2003, Training Tips article "Obstruction Avoidance."

Once airborne, stay safe by updating your altimeter setting often. Remember that quickly changing weather can bring rapid rises or falls in barometric pressure. Err on the high side, thus thwarting CFIT when choosing an altitude, day or night.  

My ePilot – Training Product
Paper logbooks are tangible records of your progress as a student pilot and have served that purpose efficiently for decades. As we move toward a paperless society, however, more and more computer-based logbook options are popping up. AVLogbook's online version offers several features that go beyond the ability to log a flight, such as tracking medical renewals, flight reviews, day and night currency, and instrument competency. Student pilots can make logbook entries that indicate they have received instruction, and then record maneuvers and instructor name, enter cost associated with the training, or print an endorsement page that an instructor can sign. You can then keep the printed pages in a three-ring binder of endorsements for a permanent record of your training. AVLogbook costs $18 per year to subscribe; a Pilot ProPack version, with additional tools for commercial pilots, independent CFIs, and designated pilot examiners, is available for $24 per year. 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'm just starting to learn my way around decoding and understanding textual weather reports like METARs. Does AOPA have resources to help me learn more on this important subject?

Answer: AOPA has a list of METAR/TAF abbreviations that decodes their meanings. And the AOPA Air Safety Foundation offers an online Safety Quiz to help pilots confirm that they not only understand the weather codes, but also how they may apply to making a go/no-go decision. Also, this article from the January 2005 issue of AOPA Flight Training discusses the bigger forecasting picture and helps in understanding where the weather information is coming from, so that the resulting briefings will make more sense.

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