The following stories from the February 16, 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 – Helicopter Interest
FAA ISSUES SAIB FOR ROBINSON R22, R44
During preflight, pilots who fly Robinson R22 and R44 aircraft should carefully inspect the lower skin-to-spar joint area within 10 inches of the blade tip. The FAA issued a special airworthiness information bulletin on February 9, and Robinson released a safety alert on January 4 notifying pilots that the rotor blade skin may begin to debond at the skin-to-spar joint on the lower surface near the blade tip. The FAA and Robinson state that thorough preflight inspections should allow early detection and prevent a catastrophic failure. "If unusual rotor system noise or vibration is detected in flight, land immediately and have blades inspected by a qualified mechanic," Robinson cautions.
My ePilot – Other Interest
U.S. SOARING TEAM TO HOST TRAINING CAMPS
What could be better than a week of soaring? The U.S. Soaring Team will be hosting three camps this year that focus on cross-country flying and racing. Each day features lectures, flying, and flight analyses. The April 7 through 13 camp in Perry, South Carolina, has filled up, but spots are still available for the camps scheduled for May 7 through 11 in Warner Springs, California, and August 20 through 25 in Harris Hill, New York.
VAN'S AIRCRAFT SURPASSES MAJOR MILESTONE
Hitting the 5,000-mark is gratifying for just about any human endeavor. But in the world of homebuilt aircraft—or even certified production aircraft—it's exceptional. On Valentine's Day, Van's Aircraft received word that RV-8 builder Steve Fromhals, of San Antonio, Texas, submitted the 5,000th "first flight" report. Later that same day, another report was received, bringing the total to 5,001. To put it in perspective, company officials figure that averages out to a new airplane in the air every 2.5 days since the company began shipping kits in 1973. It began with the RV-3, which remains in production today. Van's latest design, the RV-12, is designed for the light sport aircraft market and should be out by the end of the year.
My ePilot – Renter Interest
TIME TO BUY?
Are you flying rental aircraft more than 100 hours a year? If so, you might want to see if owning your own airplane would be more affordable. "Often pilots who are in a position to buy their first airplane are either in training or fresh out," explains Ian Twombly in "The road to ownership: Is it time to buy?" in the "Answers for Pilots" section of the September 2006 AOPA Pilot. If you think you are in a position to buy and would like information on how to get started, see AOPA' online guide for more information, or contact the experts in AOPA's Pilot Information Center (800/USA-AOPA).
My ePilot – Student Interest, Training Tips
WHAT'S THE WIND?
At all stages of a flight, the pilot receives clues about wind. What those clues mean to that pilot is the product of training. Even in the level cruise portion of a flight, don't ignore clues about winds aloft and surface winds. The unexpected sight of altocumulus standing lenticular (ACSL) clouds along the route might suggest the presence of strong winds and severe turbulence. (See the March 14, 2003, Training Tips article "Don't mess with mountain waves.") That would warrant checking in with Flight Watch for a weather update.
Smoke emanating from smokestacks gives evidence of the speed and direction of surface winds; so does blowing snow. Gusts may appear as ripple patterns on bodies of water or in the motion of trees bordering open fields. Knowing the character of the wind down below during cruise flight could be life-saving in case of an engine failure, because picking out an emergency landing field is only half the battle. The pilot also must know which way to approach to avoid overshooting.
Cross-country flying and related flight planning trains a student pilot to calculate the magnetic headings to fly to maintain the plotted course, given expected wind drift. If the actual headings flown are significantly different, or if groundspeed varies from planned values, what is the wind doing? When landing with an expected crosswind, you must be able to recognize that there will either be a headwind component or a tailwind component on the base leg. Did you plan your traffic pattern to compensate for its effects? Pilots learn about the effects of surface winds when practicing ground-reference maneuvers. "They aid the pilot in analyzing the effect of wind and other forces acting on the airplane and in developing a fine control touch, coordination and the division of attention necessary for accurate and safe maneuvering of the airplane," according to Chapter 6 of the Airplane Flying Handbook.
Let a designated examiner give you pointers on how the time-tested S-turns, turns around a point, and rectangular-course maneuvers should be flown in Dave Wilkerson's March 2003 AOPA Flight Training column "Checkride: Ground reference insights." Keep track of what the wind is doing, and you'll be ready to make the right decisions when it counts.
My ePilot – Training Product
MANEUVERS GUIDES FROM SPORTY'S
Whether you are at the private, instrument, or commercial level, visual references can be a great help when it comes to learning maneuvers. Sporty's has produced a series of guides adapted from the Sporty's Academy Maneuvers and Procedures Handbook, and each provides step-by-step instructions and diagrams for performing maneuvers required on the pertinent checkride. Recreational and Private Pilot Maneuvers Guide covers takeoffs and landings, stalls, slow flight, ground reference maneuvers, emergencies, and more; Instrument Pilot Maneuvers Guide provides information on holding procedures and precision and nonprecision approaches; and Commercial Pilot Maneuvers Guide includes power-off accuracy approaches, lazy eights, eights on pylons, chandelles, steep spirals, and more. You can order one for $16.95 each, or all three for $39.95. 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: My friend has gotten me interested in learning to fly. He is currently training for an instrument rating, while I am just getting started on sport pilot flight training. I have researched the FAA regulations and cannot find why my friend can log pilot-in-command time, but I cannot.
Answer: Your friend can log time as pilot in command (PIC), even though he is not instrument rated, because he is a certificated pilot with privileges to fly the aircraft he is flying. FAR 61.51(e) allows certificated pilots to log PIC time when they are the sole manipulators of the controls in an aircraft they have privileges to fly. With that said, the same regulation also allows a student pilot, like yourself, to log PIC flight time when working on your solo sport pilot aeronautical experience requirements (i.e., five hours of solo flight time for the airplane single-engine land rating). Additional information on logging time can be found at AOPA Online.