The following stories from the February 2, 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 – Light Sport Aircraft Interest
AEROTREKKING—ADVENTURE FLYING FOR SPORT PILOTS
Wish you could fly low and slow—really low and slow—over the ground, almost becoming a part of the scenery? Southwest Aerotrekking Academy claims it might have the solution. "Aerotrekking is the art of low-level flying by following the contour of the ground," according to the company's Web site. The company uses weight-shift-control light sport aircraft to teach aerotrekking, and it also provides a three-week sport pilot training course in weight-shift-control aircraft. Not sure if this is something up your alley? The company offers a short video clip of what aerotrekking is like on its home page.
My ePilot – Helicopter Interest
COMPANY OFFERS SAFETY REVIEW CARDS FOR ROBINSON COPTERS
Heli-Safety recently announced that helicopter pilots can order safety procedure review and study cards through its new Web site. The cards can be used to review emergency procedures and to brief passengers during preflight and warm-up for Robinson R22 and R44 helicopters. "We have found that some pilots rarely have time to review emergency procedures for the helicopter they are operating," said Heli-Safety President Richard Ehrenberg. He explained that using the cards could help prevent critical items from being left out during passenger briefings.
My ePilot – Student Interest, Training Tips
Since your first flight lesson, you have been performing preflight inspections of your training aircraft. It's a familiar, satisfying prelude to flying. Usually everything checks out fine and the word is "go." Occasionally you detect a problem—a flat or worn tire, leaking or contaminated fuel, brake fluid pooled on the ground or dripping from the main gear. Glitches crop up just often enough to remind us never to take preflights for granted. Otherwise, it's easy to fall into the trap of preflighting without paying attention, or not really knowing what to look out for.
Sound familiar? "Many student pilots go through a preflight ritual but have no idea why they do some things. It's just something their instructor told them to do. If you find yourself going through the motions without knowing why, it's time to ask an instructor or even a mechanic what the purpose of the action is all about," Peter A. Bedell advised in "A Prelude to Takeoff" in the May 2000 AOPA Pilot.
Thorough preflighting—whether of a familiar or unfamiliar aircraft—can head off more than just mechanical problems. Cowl plugs start appearing when cold weather assaults airports, so don't forget to remove them before flight. A previous pilot may have left the baggage door unsecured—you'd be surprised how often this goes unchecked. Is the oil door open or the dipstick untightened? It happens—good reasons to apply sterile cockpit rules (described in the July 9, 2004, Training Tips) to the serious business of preflighting.
The preflight's complete? Take a last look, as Mark Twombly suggests in his June 2005 AOPA Flight Training commentary "Continuing Ed: Beyond Kicking the Tires." "A last look is just what it says. After finishing the standard preflight inspection and loading the airplane, step back, take a deep breath, and change your focus to allow for a big-picture view of the airplane. It's amazing what conscientious pilots have forgotten in the rush to get going, even though they've done a preflight—chocks snugging up against a main landing gear tire; a pitot tube cover still in place with a long, hanging streamer; and even a tow bar attached to the nosewheel. A good last look will save you from joining that hapless club."
My ePilot – Training Product
FLYAGOGO.NET TEAMS UP WITH FREEPILOTLOG.COM
Flyagogo.net, a free flight-planning Web site, has partnered with Freepilotlog.com to offer a free online logbook for users. The logbook site integrates with the online flight planning site so that you can easily get current information about other airports, graphically display flight plans, and more. Users can log in using their flyagogo.net accounts without having to create separate accounts.
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 preparing for my solo long cross-country flight and have noticed my planned route will take me directly through a military operations area. Am I allowed, as a student pilot, to fly through this area?
Answer: You are legally allowed to fly through a military operations area (MOA) without an ATC clearance. Because of the unique military activities performed in these areas, extreme caution should be exercised if the MOA is active. The chart covering your flight will have a listing of MOAs outlining their hours of operation. Before entering a MOA, consider contacting flight service for advisories on the frequency listed on the chart or listed in the FAA's Airport/Facility Directory appropriate for that area. Additional information on MOAs can be found in the Aeronautical Information Manual and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's online course, Mission: Possible—Navigating Today's Special Use Airspace.