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The following stories from the September 11, 2009, 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 -

SRT Helicopters approved for M-1 visa program

SRT Helicopters, provider of high-risk operational services and training for rotorcraft users and aviation organizations, became the first Part 61 flight training school in the United States to be approved for the M-1 Visa Student and Exchange Visitor Program. The M-1 visa provided through SRT will allow foreign students to reside and train in the United States for up to 12 months. Read more >>

- My ePilot -- Turbine Interest -

Raisbeck developing Lear 60 fuselage locker

Raisbeck Engineering announced last week it is developing an aft fuselage baggage compartment for the Learjet 60. According to the company, preliminary flight tests show the compartment meets the primary goal of zero increase in drag and no performance penalty. Raisbeck is known for innovative and reliable performance modifications, and the company already offers exterior lockers on the Learjet. The goal of the Learjet 60 locker is to offer 25 cubic feet of storage and an additional 300 pounds of baggage capacity.


In the glide

Precious little of a powered-aircraft pilot’s flight time is spent in true power-off gliding flight. Don’t let that fact obscure the need to become completely at home with your aircraft’s handling and performance in a glide as you train. Many pilot trainees first experience brief glides during normal landing approaches, when they idle the throttle after the runway is “made” and before roundout, flare, and touchdown. You can sample more extended glides when descending from cruise flight, but take care to avoid shock cooling of your engine. In any glide, use carburetor heat (see the July 10 “ Training Tip”) as recommended for your aircraft.


Another chance to learn about your trainer’s behavior in glides is to experience some power-off approaches early in training. Power-off approaches can help improve all your landings, as was explained in the Jan. 5, 2007, “ Training Tip,” which also reviewed the control coordination requirements of glides, compared to powered flight. “Yes, it's just as easy to make power-on approaches at this stage. Nevertheless, judging the airplane's power-off glide potential is a valuable skill for students to have, especially if they must make an emergency landing someday. A second benefit is that this clears any lingering question students have about what would happen in the event of a powerplant failure, thus making for a student who is more confident and at ease,” flight instructor and aviation humorist Rod Machado explained on AOPA Flight Training Online.


That “second benefit” he refers to will come in handy when you begin practicing simulated emergency landings in preparation for demonstrating the emergency operations task on your private pilot practical test. If it’s necessary to glide a distance to reach your landing site, be sure to set up the recommended best-glide airspeed to satisfy the practical test task.


Power’s off, but you’re still too high on approach? Gliding may be combined with another maneuver, such as a forward slip. (See Chapter 8 of the Airplane Flying Handbook .)


Make learning how to get maximum gliding performance out of your trainer a goal as you work toward your pilot certificate.


‘Practical IFR Flying’ CD

Instrument-rated pilots are invited to view a CD that focuses on methods and techniques to make single-pilot IFR flying simpler, easier, less stressful, and safer. Practical IFR Flying by Chuck McGill also discusses helpful things your instructor never taught you, and how using current technology can reduce your risk in IFR flight. McGill is the 2009 CFI of the Year for the Western Pacific Region, and has more than 11,000 flight hours in more than 85 different makes and models of general aviation aircraft. The CD sells for $39.95 and may be ordered online from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co.


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.


Question: Are the traffic pattern altitudes listed in the Airports/Facilities Directory compulsory? In other words, is it a violation of the regulations to fly higher or lower than the traffic pattern altitude?


Answer: Traffic pattern altitudes can range between 600 and 1,500 feet agl. Chapter 4-3-3 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) states that 1,000 feet agl is the recommended pattern altitude unless the airport recommends otherwise. Sometimes airport management decides to set or change a traffic pattern altitude (within the parameters of 600 to 1,500 feet) for obstruction clearance, noise abatement, and the like. While the AIM is not regulatory, it is recommended that you follow its guidance and the traffic pattern altitude shown in the Airports/Facility Directory. AOPA's Airport Directory Online keeps this information updated through airport surveys and questionnaires.

Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail to [email protected] or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don't forget the online archive of "Final Exam" questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.

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