The following stories from the August 24, 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
Busy airports bring to mind traffic patterns brimming with aircraft, rapid radio transmissions, and continuous takeoffs and landings. Less obvious are the effects that bustling airports have on a pilot as a flight begins, especially if your training usually occurs at a quiet airport or if you have experienced a single airport's operating methods.
Starting right at the hangar or tiedown spot, heavy traffic highlights a pilot's safety awareness. Fuel trucks, other ground vehicles, line crewmembers, aircraft passengers, or other pedestrians will likely be nearby. Give the area careful scrutiny. Don't content yourself with shouting the traditional "Prop clear!" before turning the key. "Did you happen to look behind the airplane before you strapped in? What's behind the tail? If you want to become the airport's most despised citizen, make a habit of ignoring whoever or whatever is behind you when you start the engine," Budd Davisson wrote in the October 2000 AOPA Flight Training etiquette discussion "Listen to your mother: She taught you to be a good pilot."
Looking down the taxiway at a long departure line or a packed run-up area may tempt you to get an early start on the pretakeoff checklist. Don't--that's distraction and the stuff mishaps are made of. "The only items that should be checked while taxiing are the brakes (the effectiveness of which should be determined before taxiing much farther than the length of your aircraft) and the indications of three instruments that can only be checked while the aircraft is in motion," Barry Schiff counseled in his "Proficient Pilot" column in the January 2003 AOPA Pilot.
Position your aircraft thoughtfully inside the run-up area, letting others come and go conveniently. When you call the tower and declare yourself ready for takeoff, be truly ready! No dawdling or fiddling with instruments and radios out there. Listen for words like "immediate" or "expedite" in your clearance. (Check out the advice and links provided in the May 26, 2006, Training Tips article "What did that mean?") After liftoff, be ready to fly an assigned heading or make an early turn away from the departure course. (Review wake turbulence avoidance in the January 24, 2003, Training Tips.)
Performing pilot chores swiftly, without cutting corners, is the plan when the airport rush is on.
My ePilot - Training Product
AVJOURNAL ANNOUNCES ENHANCEMENTS TO ONLINE LOGBOOK
Since the online logbook program AvJournal was launched a year ago, PrizeFlight President and AOPA member Adam Bell reports that the program has undergone a series of upgrades and new features based on feedback from users. Among the changes: an import feature that allows pilots who have been tracking flight time in a Microsoft Excel file or other logbook application to upload that data quickly and easily into AvJournal. The aircraft profile function has been improved: "We weren't too friendly to the helicopter and glider pilots. Now most any aircraft should be able to be defined, and users can report on flight data many different ways," Bell says. A tailwheel currency item has been added to the currency notification and settings, and a warning label is now displayed when a currency item is set to expire within 30 days. A monthly subscription to the program is $3.95; a year's subscription is $39.95. AOPA members can get a 25-percent discount off the yearlong subscription by entering the coupon code SECUREIT.
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've noticed that a few airports in my area have a parachute symbol depicted. Other than just monitoring the local airport frequency/common traffic advisory frequency when flying within a parachute operations area, how can I find more details about the jump operations before making my flight?
Answer: The FAA's Airport/Facility Directory lists parachute jumping areas by state. Each listing provides the jump location, distance, and radial from the nearest VOR/vortac; maximum altitude for the jump zone; and relevant remarks. Typically jump activity is busiest on weekends and holidays, but jumps can occur anytime during the week. FAR Part 105 provides guidance and outlines the requirements of parachute operations. In order for parachute jump areas to be depicted on navigational charts, they must have been in operation for at least one year, operate year-round (at least on weekends), and have logged 4,000 or more jumps each year. Read more in the AOPA Flight Training magazine article "Jumpers Away."