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Custom content from the Dec. 31, 2010, issue of 'AOPA ePilot' newsletterCustom content from the Dec. 31, 2010, issue of 'AOPA ePilot' newsletter

The following stories from the December 31, 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.

training tips

New year, new goals

Your New Year’s goals for flight training—unlike those New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or pay off the mortgage, or both—don’t have to be grand to be gratifying.

Since it is an obvious time of year to assess where your training is headed, spend some holiday time forming a plan of action that you can put into effect as soon as the flight school opens for business.

Goals can be general reminders such as “Fly more,” or an exhortation to “Finish up!” Goals can be specific: “Need night flight.” Or “Improve my crosswind landings.”

They can be organizational: Audit your logbook; sometimes adding up the hours you have achieved toward your training requirements results in the pleasant realization that you are closer than you thought to being ready. The audit might catch an item which, had it gone undiscovered, might have sent you home from a checkride as ineligible. That’s one reason why reviewing logbook entries is part of this Flight Training lesson plan for flight-test preparation.

Have a heart to heart with your flight instructor in the coffee shop about your training program. Review your solo limitations, discussed in the Jan. 27, 2006, Training Tip. Should they be adjusted?

Not sure how to pick up again after a layoff from flying? Start the year with a stage check—it’s the aeronautical equivalent of a medical second opinion, as Flight Training Associate Editor Jill W. Tallman explained in the June 2004 “Aviation Speak” column.

Maybe you have been considering replacing your instructor. The time to make resolutions is also a good time to bite the bullet on a tough decision. Be methodical when making the call. “The best way to begin evaluating the instructor-student relationship is to assess the instructor's professionalism. The list of qualities is long, but it can be pared down to a few basics,” wrote Flight Training Deputy Editor Ian J. Twombly in the April 2008 feature article “Bad instructor or bad match?” See his list of the most important clues to a CFI’s professionalism.

Still need an idea to jump-start the program? Then here’s the best one of all: Get out there and fly!

training products

AppStation iPad kneeboard

If you fly with an iPad, you’ll quickly learn it requires something to hold it in place while you fly. The AppStation iPad kneeboard is curved to sit comfortably on your leg, and its design includes a cubby that can hold a miniature flashlight, iPad stylus, or a pen or pencil. The AppStation sells for $69.99 from


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. 

final exam


Question: I've heard the term “category” used to describe both airplanes and pilot ratings and am confused about which is correct. Can you give me a definition of “category”?


Answer: Actually, “category” is correctly used in the context of both aircraft and airmen, though with different meanings for each. When referring to “airmen” certification, category means a broad classification of aircraft; for instance, airplane, rotorcraft, glider, lighter-than-air, or powered lift. A pilot could be certificated for "airplane single-engine land," with "airplane" being the category of aircraft. When describing "aircraft certification," category refers to the way aircraft are grouped, based on operating limitations or intended use. For instance, aircraft are certificated in these categories: transport, normal, utility, acrobatic, limited, restricted, or provisional. For more on aircraft certification read the Flight Training article “Form and Function.”


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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