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Holiday season flying
The winter holidays provide a variety of opportunities to catch up on your flying, or nail down specific training program requirements. From having some extra time to schedule a night flight to setting aside a few hours for a cross-country, holiday periods are a great chance to get aloft (with some cooperation from the weather).
Book your trainer early and make some plans to fly! Don’t overlook a few details specific to the season, and plan accordingly in case the airport is busier than usual.
One good idea for winter holiday flying is to know your BRAGs and BRAFs. Those two acronyms are from the series of descriptions of braking action that you will see and hear when checking on runway conditions, as discussed in the Nov. 28, 2003, Training Tip.
Snow or ice on the runway demands your best efforts at directional control during takeoff runs, landing rolls, and taxiing. If you haven’t been trying too hard to line up on the center line of the runway—and keep it where it belongs throughout takeoff or landing—now is a good time to refocus your directional control technique.
Review landing technique with your instructor, and get some dual practice if you haven’t flown much lately. The soft-field technique may be a good solution for tackling a runway dusted with snow. Get the wheels off the surface as early as possible on takeoff. Touch down at minimum possible airspeed and minimize braking on landing. If your cross-country destination is snow covered, how deep is the snow? It’s bad planning to leave answering this important question to guesswork, as this December 2006 Air Safety Institute Safety Spotlight makes clear. See also the tips offered in the Air Safety Institute’s “Takeoffs and Landings” Webinar.
“Landing light: on” is the way to fly in or near the traffic pattern when other aircraft, or reindeer, may be close at hand.
When on the ground, stay aware of one of winter’s unique hazards: snowdrifts. Whether you are taxiing, taking off, or landing, they may be closer than you think, and not always easy to see. And their ability to snare a wing tip is legendary.
Take a little care, and make big strides. Here’s hoping that the holidays provide a gift of reinvigoration for your flight training!
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Many people want to learn to fly but aren't sure if they can progress through the requirements of the private pilot certificate. If that's your situation, don't forget you have options. You can earn a recreational pilot certificate or a sport pilot certificate. Both require fewer hours of training than a private pilot certificate (which translates to fewer dollars spent), but they also pose limitations on the type of flying you can do and the aircraft you can fly. For more information, see AOPA’s Guide to Learning to Fly.
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 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.
North Andover Flight Academy, a helicopter flight school with locations in Massachusetts and New York, has launched an accelerated training program. Students who enroll are assigned a single instructor who trains with them for up to four consecutive weeks. Multiple training sessions are scheduled daily for the students’ entire stay. Students receive training materials in advance so that they can study before they arrive. The school has offered accelerated training for years but took steps to formalize its program so that customers can finish their private certificate within a fixed time frame.
Online flight planning methods employed by the AOPA Internet Flight Planner don’t infringe on the patent recently awarded to FlightPrep, according to Jeppesen, AOPA’s flight planning partner. The popular AOPA Internet Flight Planner continues to be available and will be for the foreseeable future, and a major upgrade is to be released in the next few weeks. Read more >>
Tarrant County College, Fort Worth, Texas, and US Aviation Group, Denton, will join forces to offer accredited Part 141 flight training to local college students. Flight training will take place at Alliance Airport. Under the new program, students can obtain a two-year degree in aviation and can transfer to a four-year university to complete a bachelor’s degree. When they finish the program they will hold a multiengine commercial rating and will have passed the airline transport pilot knowledge test.
You’re probably familiar with 800/WX-BRIEF… but do you know which flight service frequency to try if you can’t find a local outlet on your chart? Have you ever heard of TIBS, and do you know what it is? And what’s with the letter “R” after certain flight service frequencies on sectional charts? Test yourself on these questions and more with the Air Safety Institute’s Flight Service safety quiz.
Model expo showcases flight skills in miniature aircraft
If you’ve ever flown a radio-controlled model aircraft, you already know what a challenge it can be. If you’ve never been around RC airplanes and the dedicated people who build and fly them, immerse yourself at the Academy of Model Aeronautics Expo. The event will be held Jan. 7 through 9 at the Ontario Convention Center in Ontario, Calif. See flying demonstrations, exhibits, and speakers, including a Jabiru demo pilot who got her start in aviation building model aircraft in 4-H.
No tower? No problem
If you are based at a tower-controlled airport, consider what to expect when visiting an airport without one. For example, how do you announce your intentions so everyone understands your plan before you enter the traffic pattern? Some airports have part-time towers: You may arrive talking to ATC, but what happens when you depart after the tower is closed? And VFR pilots—do you know how local instrument approaches fit in the nontowered environment? Check out Operations at Nontowered Airports to brush up before you go. Download the Safety Advisor >>
Sporty’s Elevator Cushion offers pilots a lift
If seeing over the instrument panel or reaching the rudder pedals is a strain, consider getting a lift from Sporty’s Elevator Cushion. The seat bottom measures 14 inches in width by 12 inches in depth and 2.5 inches thick; the back of the cushion is 14 inches wide, 18 inches in depth, and 2.5 inches thick. It weighs 32 ounces and features a pocket on the front and back that can hold a chart. The Elevator Cushion sells for $49.95 and may be ordered online or by calling 800/SPORTYS.
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’ve read what the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) and the federal aviation regulations say about restricted airspace; however, I’m still in doubt as to whether or not I can fly VFR through restricted airspace that is not active without a specific clearance. Can you help me?
Answer: Yes, you can fly VFR through restricted airspace without a specific clearance as long as the controlling or using agency has determined that the restricted area is not active or is “cold” as some pilots like to refer to it. This would, of course, necessitate that you make contact with the appropriate controlling or using agency and that they communicate to you that the restricted area is inactive. Restricted airspace can contain some perilous surprises such as aerial gunnery or guided missiles, so it is wise to know what is going on before penetrating the airspace. For more on special-use airspace, take the Air Safety Institute’s Mission: Possible, Navigating Today’s Special Use Airspace online course.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail email@example.com 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.
What’s new online
What were the flight training industry’s highlights and lowlights in 2010? Flight Training Associate Editor Jill W. Tallman offers her end-of-the-year roundup in the latest 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 7,000 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 Air Safety Institute Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Long Beach, Calif., and San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 8 and 9; Jackson, Miss., and Portland, Ore., Jan. 15 and 16; Baltimore, Md., Detroit, Mich., and Charlotte, N.C., Jan. 22 and 23; San Jose, Calif., Sevierville, Tenn., and Bellevue, Wash., Jan. 29 and 30. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Can’t make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.
Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars
Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars are scheduled in Mesa, Ariz., and Reno, Nev., Jan. 10; Tucson, Ariz., and Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 11; Milpitas, Calif., Jan. 12; Santa Rosa, Calif., Jan. 13; San Diego, Calif., and Fort Worth, Texas, Jan. 24; Costa Mesa, Calif., and Houston, Texas, Jan. 25; Ontario, Calif., and San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 26; Austin, Texas, Jan. 27. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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Editorial Team: ePilot Flight Training Editor : Jill W. Tallman | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton K. Marsh