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Storms ‘in the vicinity’
August produces first-class thunderstorms. Even on a day that starts quietly, a pilot may have to reconsider a flight, or take evasive action en route. To make good decisions, you need two kinds of information: How close could the flight come to the bad stuff? Does that distance tread on safety margins?
Brush up on weather-reporting terminology to help you decide on a plan of action. Barry Schiff probed pilots’ knowledge with this question in the December 2006 AOPA Pilot “ Test Pilot” column:
A pilot approaching an airport hears an automated weather report stating that there is a "thunderstorm in the vicinity" of that airport. This means that the cell is:
Which did you choose? The answer, and its published abbreviation, are found in Chapter 12 of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge: In a surface weather observation, “the notation ‘VC’ indicates a specific weather phenomenon is in the vicinity of five to ten miles from the airport.”
In flight, when storms are popping up, what’s the best course? “For most general aviation pilots, the safest (and best) option when confronted with widespread convective activity is to look for a place to land,” recommends the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Safety Advisor Thunderstorms and ATC.“ In many cases, that means turning around and finding a nearby airport. The nearest runway, however, may not be the best choice: Thunderstorms can move quickly, and it’s unwise to ‘race’ one to an airport in harm’s way. At a minimum, consider an airport 20 to 30 miles away.”
Not only do the storms sometimes race at more than 40 knots over the ground, but hail can fall up to 20 miles from the storm cloud. “Hail most often falls ahead of the advancing thunderstorm cell. It is recommended that pilots avoid thunderstorms by at least 20 miles from the edge of a storm cloud,” said the July 17, 2009, “ Training Tip: Hail.” Look for more advice in The foundation’s online course Weather Wise: Thunderstorms and ATC .
Stay informed, know the margin of safety, and act fast—even if a stormy day takes everyone by surprise!
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Keys to success in flight training are talking through the tough times, sharing the good times, and always learning as much as possible. AOPA makes this easier than ever, thanks to social media. Flight Training magazine has an active Facebook page where fans interact with the staff and each other to share stories and ideas. For even more advice, turn to AOPA’s forums, a community of pilots, students, aircraft owners, and more who love to chat about everything flying.
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.
The House and Senate have passed a short-term FAA funding extension that includes provisions for airline pilot training requirements. Language in the bill now requires even first officers to obtain the airline transport pilot certificate. It also addresses pilot fatigue, requiring the FAA to implement new pilot flight and duty time rules within a year after reviewing scientific research on fatigue. AOPA is representing general aviation on a first officer qualifications aviation rulemaking committee, which is slated to provide recommendations by the beginning of September. The association has cautioned that changes should not create a barrier to entry into aviation careers. Read more >>
Light sport aircraft manufacturer Tecnam introduced a network of sport pilot schools called Tecnam Flight Centers last week. The centers will utilize Tecnam’s line of LSAs, along with a training program based on Apple’s iPad. In developing the flight center concept, Tecnamjoins other aircraft manufacturers, including Cessna, Cirrus, and Remos, to introduce an easy way for schools to buy or lease new aircraft. As of now there are five centers across the country, and more are expected to be added, according to a company representative. Read more >>
Thirteen new scholarships will be awarded at the Women in Aviation, International Conference next year in Reno, Nev., Feb. 24 through 26. They are valued at $92,250. Dozens of scholarship opportunities for 2011 are now posted on the organization’s website. Among the scholarships are two for a Delta Air Lines Airbus A320 type rating. Other scholarships cover travel, flight instruction, and helicopters. Read more >>
Prospective, student pilots pledge to live the dream
With aerobatics overhead and aircraft, products, and pilots on every side, the Learn to Fly Discovery Center on AeroShell Square at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., was an ideal spot to launch prospective pilots into training. After a successful exhibit last year, AOPA again featured a Let’s Go Flying/ Flight Training exhibit in the Discovery Center. More than 350 attendees completed a daily drawing entry and flight training pledge. Read more >>
‘Say It Right’ with Air Safety Foundation online course
So, you think you have the jargon down and your radio etiquette is up to snuff? Count on the AOPA Air Safety Foundation to test your mettle with Say It Right: Mastering Radio Communications. The Air Safety Foundation collaborated with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association in developing this interactive online course. Audio examples of specific in-flight scenarios and video advice from air traffic controllers provide the insight and knowledge you need to communicate effectively and overcome any bouts of mic fright. Master the radio like the pro you are.
Going for your checkride? Aircraft flash cards can help
Professional pilots often use aircraft-specific flash cards to review systems and procedures. If it’s good enough for the pros, then why not you? The AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Aircraft Flash Cards are a clever way to quickly review items found in the pilot’s operating handbook and aircraft manual. Whether going on a checkride or just kicking the tires with some friends, here’s your chance to show off your knowledge and effortlessly recite emergency procedures, boldly rattle off V-speeds, and nonchalantly mention electrical system specs. Download this handy card deck >>
A small price to pay for peace of mind
Protecting your pilot certificate is a wise investment. For as little as 10 cents a day, most pilots can enroll in the AOPA Legal Services Plan. The plan is sensible protection in case of an unforeseen emergency. Most pilots don't think they'll need legal assistance because they're good, careful, and experienced pilots. But the fact is the FAA initiates thousands of enforcement actions annually. With today's ever-changing and complex aviation regulations, violations can result from a simple miscommunication or misunderstanding. The Legal Services Plan is a smart investment that could save you money—and save your certificate. Enroll or renew your coverage today online or by phone at 800/USA-AOPA. All cases are different—past results do not guarantee future success. See the plan description for complete coverage and exclusion details.
Jeppesen approach plates on iPad
Jeppesen introduced approach plates on the iPad at EAA AirVenture last week. Pilots can now get any of Jeppesen’s approach plates electronically through their iPad for the same price as the company’s electronic charts. The application that shows the plates is free.
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: Where can I find the regulation that applies to fuel requirements for VFR flights?
Answer: You can find this information in 14 CFR Part 91 Section 91.151: Fuel requirements for flight in VFR conditions. It states: "No person may begin a flight in an airplane under VFR conditions unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and, assuming normal cruising speed; (1) during the day to fly after that for at least 30 minutes; or (2) at night to fly after that for at least 45 minutes." Rotorcraft requirements are a bit different, requiring only enough fuel to make the first point of intended landing and 20 minutes thereafter at normal cruise speed. For more information, read the July 2002 Flight Training article “ Learn what you burn.”
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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The basics matter
Are you tired of practicing stalls for the thousandth time? If so, remember that we practice the basics for a reason. At EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., last week, NASCAR team owner Jack Roush crashed his business jet. Learn how his accident directly relates to your training this week on the Flight Training blog >>
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!
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER
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.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Champaign, Ill., Aug. 14 and 15; Costa Mesa, Calif., and Reno, Nev., Aug. 21 and 22; Allentown, Pa., Aug. 28 and 29; Sacramento, Calif., and Baltimore, Md., Sept. 11 and 12.; Colorado Springs, Colo., Richmond, Va., and Seattle, Wash., Sept. 18 and 19; Phoenix, Ariz., Sept. 25 and 26. 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 Germantown, Tenn., Aug. 30; Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 31; and Maryville, Tenn., Sept. 1; Newton, Mass., Sept. 7; East Hartford, Conn., Sept. 8; Morristown, N.J., Sept. 9; Wichita, Kan., and Sioux Falls, S.D., Sept. 13; Oklahoma City, Okla.,and Pierre, S.D., Sept. 14; Little Rock, Ark., and Rapid City, S.D., Sept. 15; Rochester, Minn., and Reno, Nev., Sept. 20; Sacramento, Calif., and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Sept. 21; San Jose, Calif., and Bellevue, Neb., Sept. 22; Olathe, Kan., Sept. 23; Mesa, Ariz., St. Louis, Mo., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Ft. Worth, Texas, Sept. 27; Springfield, Mo., Summerdale, Pa., and Houston, Texas, Sept. 28; Albuquerque, N.M., Allentown, Pa., and San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 29; and King of Prussia, Pa., and Austin, Texas, Sept. 30. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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Editorial Team: ePilot Flight Training Editor : Ian Twombly | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton Marsh