The following stories from the August 31, 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
Somewhere between the perfectly stabilized final approach and the despairing go-around exists the real world of landings. Student pilots learn how to judge whether a final approach is unfolding well enough to fly right down to touchdown. If it isn't, there's no shame in executing a balked landing and setting up for another pattern. See the July 25, 2003, Training Tips article "The gospel of go-arounds."
Don't conclude that a final approach should be abandoned at the first sign that it is off the mark. Pilots have many resources for keeping an approach tidy. How is your airspeed? Make sure that your trimming technique leaves you correctly trimmed at the airspeed you set after rolling out on final. A few extra knots could have crept onto the airspeed indicator as you busied yourself with other tasks. How's your glide? Try adjusting glidepath with small power changes, then "split the difference" to maintain the proper descent rate. Don't re-trim; let pitch changes induced by throttle adjustment maintain the airspeed. If larger glidepath adjustments are needed, reduce or even idle the power and execute a forward slip [see the February 24, 2006, Training Tips article "Forward slips, sideslips"] until you're back on the proper glidepath. Consult your pilot's operating handbook for cautions against slipping with flap deployments.
Sometimes a final approach starts on the correct glidepath but deteriorates. Why? Wind velocity often slows, and its direction (and therefore, any crosswind component) can change on descent. Thermal turbulence may be encountered. Distracted behavior such as fixating on an instrument or radio (often while pushing or pulling on the yoke) can occur. Keep an open mind and be ready for quickly changing conditions on final. "Air movements wander like water in a creek," Ralph Butcher wrote in his November 2006 AOPA Flight Training "Insights" column. See the examples he provides and the techniques he recommends for handling them.
Landing is the ultimate delicate dance. Some of its variables are more tangible than others, as a pilot discovered upon seeking "expert advice" on technique in the AOPA Aviation Forums. Practicing and critically analyzing your results, and following the advice of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Advisor Ups and Downs of Takeoffs and Landings, will bring success.
My ePilot - Training Product
'GETTING THE MOST FROM YOUR FLIGHT TRAINING'
Mention the phrase "save money on flight training," and you've got a student pilot's attention in a hurry. Darren Smith, a CFII and ATP who has written several books about flying, is the author of a 126-page book that purports to help you become a better pilot while paying the least, getting the most, and finishing as quickly as possible. Smith includes advice on getting started, how to select a flight instructor, getting into the airlines, and an introduction to radio communications. The nitty-gritty advice on saving money is found in the sections on ground and flight instruction. The book sells for $9.99 and is available from Pilotmall.com.
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: If my planned route of flight will cross or run parallel to a military training route, what do I need to know to stay clear of military aircraft?
Answer: If you're flying VFR, see-and-avoid procedures are extremely important. Whenever possible, use flight following from air traffic control and query the controller as to the current status of the airspace. Military airspace can be "hot" or "cold" at any time, despite what the charted operation times say. Military training routes (MTRs) are generally established below 10,000 feet msl, and their route width can vary for each route, sometimes extending several miles on either side of the charted centerline. MTRs will have a prefix of IR or VR—flights on an IR route will be operated IFR, and flights on a VR route will be operated VFR. Routes with no segment above 1,500 feet agl will be identified by a four-number designation. Routes that include one or more segments above 1,500 feet agl will be identified by a three-number designation. For more information, read "Craniums Up! How to avoid a close encounter of the military kind" and the Aeronautical Information Manual .