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AOPA ePilot Flight Training Edition Volume 10, Issue 17 — April 23, 2010  

In This Issue:
Research aims to increase women pilot ranks
FAA launches runway safety initiative
AOPA comments on FAA‘s first officer proposal





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 obstacle elevations on aeronautical charts are true altitudes.”


The flight training information on AOPA Online is widely distributed, so helpful hints and resources can be found everywhere. The Pilot Information Center keeps a stable of flight training information on its pages. Topics include flight training scholarships, stalls and spins, choosing a flight school and instructor, and more. See all the options and ways that AOPA is supporting you in your flight training.


Did you know that student pilots who join AOPA are three times more likely to complete their flight training? Membership includes unlimited access to aviation information by phone (800/USA-AOPA, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time) or from AOPA Flight Training Online or AOPA Online. If you're not already a member, join today and get the pilot's edge. Login information is available online.


Research aims to increase women pilot ranks

Why aren’t more women flying? Research conducted under a Wolf Aviation Fund grant is aimed at finding out. Colorado pilot Penny Hamilton was awarded the grant to partially fund national research to conduct in-depth interviews with female general aviation students and pilots regarding their flight training experiences. According to the FAA, only 6 percent of all pilots in the United States are women. Read more >>

FAA launches new runway safety initiative

The FAA announced a new initiative April 14 at Sun ’n Fun aimed at enhancing runway safety. Called “If you cross the line, you’ve crossed the line,” the campaign reminds pilots to stop short of hold-short lines. It encourages pilots to follow all taxi instructions and to taxi carefully. Taxiing onto a runway without clearance to cross, take off, land, or position and hold puts pilots, passengers, and aircraft in jeopardy. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation and FAA have been working together to promote runway safety for several years. To learn more about runway safety, check out the resources on the FAA’s Web site, and take the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Runway Safety online course.

AOPA evaluates proposed first officer requirements

Offering airline-specific endorsements for commercial pilots serving as first officers in Part 121 air carrier operations may address concerns about those pilots’ eligibility, training, and qualification without negatively impacting general aviation operations, AOPA told the FAA April 9. The FAA asked whether it should continue to allow the commercial pilot certificate to be the minimum requirement for hiring new first officers at an airline in an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in February. While several of the proposals—including requiring an air transport pilot certificate or additional flight hours—could have a negative impact on the GA industry by deterring new pilots from beginning training, the concept of offering airline-specific endorsements would target specific skill sets needed for Part 121 operations without negatively impacting GA, AOPA said in its formal comments. Read more >>

Sun ’n Fun gets $7.5 million grant for new academy building

Officials from the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In and the Polk County (Florida) School board broke ground on a new $7.5 million building that will house the Central Florida Aerospace Academy. The aviation-oriented high school and career academy is currently located on the Sun ‘n Fun campus. The 58,000-square-foot facility will house up to 500 high school students when completed. It is set to open in August 2011 and will be located next to the Florida Air Museum. The Aviation Education Foundation, a not-for-profit organization in Naples, Fla., provided a $7.5 million grant for the building, and also will donate up to $500,000 to purchase furniture, fixtures, and equipment, Sun ‘n Fun officials said. Read more >>

Danger descends with ceilings

Thunderstorms may make more noise, but low ceilings and visibility are quietly dangerous: They can catch pilots unaware or lure them to fly farther into dangerous weather. Don’t get caught off guard by descending ceilings or fall prey to the temptation to fly a little farther into deteriorating weather. Brush up on your meteorological knowledge with the AOPA Air Safety Foundation interactive course WeatherWise: Ceiling and Visibility .

Inside AOPA

Know airspace or bust

From national security to habitat conservation, many factors play into the designation of an area as special-use airspace. Do you know the difference between a warning area and an alert area, or when you can fly in a military operations area? Make sure you’re familiar with all the types of airspace that lie along your path—and all the rules that govern them. Test your knowledge in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation quiz “ Special-Use Airspace,” underwritten by the AOPA Insurance Agency.

Meet the AOPA Insurance Agency team

To create an even more customer-focused environment, the AOPA Insurance Agency recently transitioned to a team-based structure. AOPA Insurance Agency President Janet Bressler believes this reorganization will provide an enhanced customer experience, which connects a customer with a specific service team to handle all his or her needs. Meet the team leaders >>


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.

Picture Perfect

Pilots love to take photos, and they love to share them with other pilots. Now you can upload your flying photos to our online gallery, “Air Mail.” Share your special aviation images, or view and rate more than 5,500 photos (and growing). Photos are put into rotation on the AOPA home page!



Want something to do this weekend? Planning an aviation getaway? See your personalized online calendar of events . We’ve enhanced our calendar so that with one click you can see all of the events listed in the regions you selected when personalizing ePilot . Now you can browse events in your region to make planning easier. You can also bookmark the personalized calendar page to check it as often as you want. Before you take off on an adventure, make sure you check our current aviation weather provided by Jeppesen.

To include an event or to search all events in the calendar, visit AOPA Online. For airport details, including FBO fuel prices, see AOPA’s Airport Directory Online.

Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics

The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Sacramento, Calif., May 1 and 2; Pensacola, Fla., and Houston, Texas, May 15 and 16; Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Kansas City, Mo., and Albany, N.Y., May 22 and 23. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.


Can’t make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.

AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars

AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars are scheduled in Blacksburg, Va., April 26; Danville, Va., April 27; Morris Plains, N.J., and Richmond, Va., April 28; Hampton, Va., April 29; Morganton, N.C., May 1; Jamestown, N.C., and Poughkeepsie, N.Y., May 3; Smithfield, N.C., and Cohoes, N.Y., May 4; New Bern, N.C., and Rochester, N.Y., May 5; Newton, Mass., and Madison, Wis., May 10; Windsor Locks, Conn., and Milwaukee, Wis., May 11; Manitowoc, Wis., May 12. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

Got news? Contact ePilot. Having difficulty using this service? Visit the ePilot Frequently Asked Questions now at AOPA Online or write to [email protected].

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Editorial Team: ePilot Flight Training Editor : Ian Twombly | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton Marsh
Production Team: Daniel Pixton, Lezlie Ramsey, William Rockenbaugh, Mitch Mitchell

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