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The following stories from the April 23, 2010, 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.


Terms and conditions

A seemingly simple knowledge test question can probe your knowledge on more than one level, but a student pilot who has carefully studied the material won’t be fazed. Consider this sample question from the private pilot knowledge test: “Altimeter setting is the value to which the barometric pressure scale of the altimeter is set so the altimeter indicates:

A) calibrated altitude at field elevation.
B) absolute altitude at field elevation.
C) true altitude at field elevation.”


First, note that the term for which a proper definition is desired is altitude, and the condition for applying the term is field elevation. From hitting the books you recall that a pilot must consider several types of altitude. “Altitude in itself is a relevant term only when it is specifically stated to which type of altitude a pilot is referring. Normally when the term altitude is used, it is referring to altitude above sea level since this is the altitude which is used to depict obstacles and airspace, as well as to separate air traffic,” says Chapter 7 of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (7-6) . It discusses five altitude terms that mainly concern pilots: indicated, true, absolute, pressure, and density altitude.


Memory aids may help you remember the meanings. Indicated altitude is just that—the altimeter’s indication at the current altimeter setting. Pressure altitude is what you get when you set standard pressure (29.92 inches hg) on your altimeter. Density altitude is an important calculation telling how air density at any level is affected by nonstandard temperature and pressure. See the May 31, 2002, “ Training Tip”. True altitude is defined as the “vertical distance above sea level.” Think of it as the true yardstick measure. Absolute altitude is the vertical distance of an aircraft above ground level, and is an exception to the above rule that altitudes are usually referenced to sea level.


Now let’s review that test question. Discard answer A; this is not an altitude term used in the text. Don’t be misled by the similar-sounding, more commonly used term calibrated airspeed. Answer B fails because at field elevation absolute altitude is zero. The correct answer is C. Note the aeronautical handbook definition of true altitude states that “airport, terrain, and obstacles elevations on aeronautical charts are true altitudes.”


Sporty’s Pilot Shop enhances electronic products

Sporty’s Pilot Shop’s recreational pilot, private pilot, and instrument rating courses have been updated with the company’s shift to mobile. For $49.95 extra with every course price, pilots can access the video portions of the courses through multiple handheld devices, such as an iPhone, iPad, and many other smartphones. The videos have been optimized for use through wireless networks and for use over cellular phone networks.


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: I am a private pilot without a current medical. Is it possible for me to log pilot-in-command flight time?


Answer: This question is perhaps one of the most frequently asked at AOPA and the short answer is yes. This question is specifically addressed in the Federal Aviation Regulations Part 61.51, “ Pilot logbooks.” Section (e)(i) allows a sport, recreational, private, commercial, or airline transport pilot to log pilot-in-command flight time when the individual is the sole manipulator of the controls in an aircraft in which the individual is rated or holds privileges. The important distinction is between logging pilot-in-command flight time and acting as pilot in command. The regulation just referenced is for logging pilot-in-command flight time and in that case a current medical is not necessary as long as another pilot on board the aircraft can act as pilot in command. The acting pilot in command would be required to hold a current medical, assuming the operation required it. For more on the topic, including several real-world scenarios, read the AOPA subject report, Logbooks and Logging Time.

Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail [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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