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The following stories from the February 5, 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.

- My ePilot -- Helicopter Interest -

Helicopter social group wants new members

The international helicopter pilot organization Twirly Birds is looking for new members. The group was founded in 1945 when a small group of pilots met to share stories and the common experiences of flying helicopters during the early years of vertical flight. Notable past members include Charles Lindbergh, Igor Sikorsky, Stanley Hiller, Alan Bristow, and Wes Lematta, to name a few. The intent was then, and is now, to share the common bond of vertical flight. Read more >>



Helpful habits

As your flight training progresses, repetition of tasks makes familiar procedures out of new and novel operations. Using checklists and standardized communications and traffic pattern procedures helps you become confident in the cockpit. Developing good habits is introduced on day one in flight training, and then reinforced at every stage. “The underlying purpose of flight training is to develop skills and safe habits that are transferable to any airplane. Basic airmanship skills serve as a firm foundation for this,” says the introductory chapter of the FAA’s Airplane Flying Handbook .


When cross-country training begins, it’s reassuring to know that the procedures you learned work in unfamiliar places. But other airports aren’t identical to your home field. One new pilot was unprepared for an important difference and related his experience in the AOPA Aviation Forum: “I now have 106 hours and some questions are now haunting me because I am going to new airports. At one of them I was doing my run-up near the departure runway and a pilot in another plane kind of asked me why I was doing it, and if anything was wrong. I was just doing what my instructor and I did for every flight. I was a bit flustered and told him to go ahead of me.” The new pilot asked how to find out where to do runups, adding, “I noticed it is never depicted on any maps, layouts, or charts in the A/FD ( Airport/Facility Directory).”


This question was addressed in the March 6, 2009, “ Training Tip: Rules of the runup.” But it’s not the only question that could arise. To learn of important airport features, consult the airport listing in the AOPA Airport Directory . Look up airport notes; you might see something like this excerpt for the Frederick, Md., airport: “Prohibited Area P-40 is lctd NW of airport. Its size may expand at any time. Consult current NOTAMS bfr flying in vcnty.”


Research also will turn up any displaced runway thresholds, obstructions, wildlife hazards, and nonstandard traffic patterns. Scrutinize sectional charts for helpful items such as visual reporting points and air traffic control frequencies to use when reporting.


If questioned by another pilot, don’t get flustered. Remember the advice this pilot received from the forum: “Don’t let others rush you. You might make a mistake.”

TRAINING PRODUCTS sale is having a clearance sale. The retailer has marked down more than 300 items by 30 to 60 percent. Sale items include training books, sunglasses, apparel, software, checklists, and more.


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 have heard that a famous theme park purposely builds structures less than 200 feet above ground level to avoid having to put a flashing red light at the top. Where can I find out about required lighting for tall structures?


Answer: Obstruction marking and lighting standards are detailed in the FAA's Advisory Circular 70-7460. Chapters 3 and 4 detail the various options available to builders and architects when it comes to marking or lighting their facilities. Generally speaking, all structures more than 200 feet above the ground must be marked or otherwise lit in accordance with the advisory circular. You can learn more about this process and the options available in the advisory circular.

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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