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The following stories from the January 29, 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 -

Pluspetrol tracks its helicopters with GPS

Peru’s largest oil and gas producer, Pluspetrol, will start using GPS-based aviation tracking devices to follow and stay in contact with its contracted helicopter fleets. The 2.2-pound D2000 portable device is built by Blue Sky Network based in La Jolla, Calif., and will allow Pluspetrol to move the units from aircraft to aircraft, saving significant costs over purchasing flight trackers for each helicopter. Read more >>



Turbulence on tap?

The latest storm has moved out. The airport is cleared of snow—watch out taxiing near snowdrifts!—and it looks like good flying weather. The wind is brisk from the northwest, and the air has a cold bite, but visual conditions prevail. Turbulence is forecast. How much is too much? How do you decide?


The first clues emerge in your preflight weather briefing. Aviation weather expert Jack Williams explained how to look for them in “The weather briefing” on AOPA Flight Training Online. Most forecast elements, such as sigmets, are of interest to all aviators; but others are especially directed at light-aircraft pilots. “An airmet alerts pilots to weather dangers that are more likely to affect smaller aircraft than large ones, such as moderate turbulence or icing, and widespread areas of low clouds or poor visibility,” he wrote.


Forecasts sometime miss the mark. That’s when pilot reports (pireps) along your route—the more recent the better—prove helpful. Item six in the Aeronautical Information Manual’s format for reporting turbulence (see Chapter 7-1-23) notes that pilots should state the type of aircraft involved; light turbulence reported by a Boeing 737 may not be so light to a Cessna 172. Also helpful is reviewing the chapter’s turbulence reporting criteria table for the characteristics of various levels of turbulence or chop. Consider this definition of moderate turbulence: “Turbulence that is similar to light turbulence but of greater intensity. Changes in altitude and/or attitude occur but the aircraft remains in positive control at all times. It usually causes variations in indicated airspeed.”


Your previous lessons also can help you evaluate today’s weather data—especially if you made and recorded estimates of turbulence on prior flights. You also learned from those flights that flying in turbulence responds best to smooth but sufficiently assertive control inputs. Rod Machado described the process in his September 2009 AOPA Flight TrainingSince You Asked” column for a pilot who’d been rattled by a bumpy approach: “They're not called flight controls for nothing. Use them to control something, such as the airplane. If the airplane is being battered around by turbulence during landing, then immediately return the wings and nose to the attitude you want. If the airspeed varies, then do something immediately to return it to the target value. Accept nothing less.”


Good advice, if the ride gets rough.


DRE 1000W low-cost headset

Aircraft Spruce and Specialty is now selling the low-cost DRE 1000W headset. The headset features a locking wire boom microphone, steel adjustable headband, headset volume control, and more. Prices range from $109.95 to $120.95, depending on options. Visit the company’s Web site for more information.


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 understand that I need to have a flight review every two years to remain current as a private pilot. I recently passed my checkride. Do I also need to complete a flight review to maintain my currency?


Answer: Since you have successfully passed your practical exam within the past two years, you do not need to complete a flight review. FAR 61.56 outlines the requirements for a flight review. Paragraph D states that pilots who complete a practical exam for a pilot certificate, rating, or privilege need not complete a flight review in the same two-year period. There is one exception. It doesn’t apply to your situation, but you may find it interesting: Passing a CFI checkride does not satisfy the requirement because it is an instructor certificate, not a pilot certificate. Read the FAA’s letter of interpretation on the topic.

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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