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The July 2, 2010, issue of 'AOPA ePilot - Flight Training Edition' e-newsletterThe July 2, 2010, issue of 'AOPA ePilot - Flight Training Edition' e-newsletter

AOPA ePilot Flight Training Edition Volume 10, Issue 27 — JuLY 2, 2010  

In This Issue:
FAA to revamp knowledge tests
Alaska students to rebuild airplane
Prepare for runway risks




Defining ‘visibility’

The June 25, 2010, “ Training Tip: Restrictions to visibility” discussed restrictions to visibility, especially those that crop up on days forecast to be bad-weather free. What is “visibility,” anyway? How should the term be interpreted when you are planning or conducting a flight?


“Closely related to cloud cover and reported ceilings is visibility information,” explains Chapter 11 of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge . “Visibility refers to the greatest horizontal distance at which prominent objects can be viewed with the naked eye. Current visibility is also reported in METAR and other aviation weather reports, as well as by automated weather systems. Visibility information, as predicted by meteorologists, is available for a pilot during a preflight weather briefing.” If visibility is restricted, the cause is given as HZ (haze), FU (smoke), or other weather phenomena listed on the AOPA Pilot Information Center’s METAR/TAF Abbreviations page.


The use of visibility terminology may depend on who is doing the observing—as well as what is seen. For example, flight visibility “refers to the average forward horizontal distance at which objects can be seen from the cockpit of an aircraft in flight. As a pilot, you will have to make your own determination about flight visibility since there is no trained weather observer in the cockpit with you. Ground visibility also refers to prevailing horizontal visibility. Unlike flight visibility, ground visibility refers to how far you can see near the Earth’s surface—a determination that is made and reported by the National Weather Service or by an accredited observer.” Also, “prevailing visibility refers to the greatest horizontal visibility that exists throughout at least half the horizon circle. In other words, if you can see at least five miles at least halfway around as you turn in a circle and look at the horizon, the prevailing visibility is five miles, even though you may be able to see farther in some directions and not as far in others,” wrote Elizabeth Tennyson in the June 2001 Flight TrainingAviation Speak” column.


The FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Exam contains numerous sample questions that probe your ability to apply rules about visibility, and identify visibilities in weather reports and forecasts. And for real-world advice on how to deal with reduced visibility, try the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s course, Weather Wise: Ceiling and Visibility . So whether the visibility outside is “zero-zero” or “severe clear,” reviewing visibility and practicing test questions is a good call!


Although it’s not covered in the pilot training curriculum, aviation security is a vital topic for aircraft owners and renters these days. It’s important that we take the initiative as a community to stop aircraft theft before it garners national attention. AOPA has numerous resources geared around security. The page contains information on AOPA’s Airport Watch Program, easy steps you can take to make your aircraft secure, and perhaps most important, information on temporary flight restrictions and other airborne security issues.


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.


FAA to revamp knowledge tests

The questions on FAA knowledge tests and the way they are taken could change over the next couple of years. In an industry meeting June 15 and 16 to review changes that have been and will be made to knowledge tests and practical test standards this year, the FAA said that it plans to expand its test-question bank from the current 15,000 to 20,000 questions, to more than 100,000 questions. Another goal is to make the written exams Internet based. The tests would continue to be taken in approved testing centers, but they would be served online instead of the hard drives of the testing center’s computers. Read more >>

Alaska students to rebuild airplane

High school students in Talkeetna, Alaska, are getting to work this year on a special project—refurbishing a wrecked Stinson 108-3. The Stinson was donated in connection with the Build-A-Plane program and the area school’s AeroScholars program. Su Valley High School added Build-A-Plane’s AeroScholars program recently, which calls for two semesters of aviation training—the first on basic aviation concepts, and the second more of a traditional ground school course, where students can be endorsed for the knowledge test at the end. In some cases, it also involves rebuilding an airplane. Read more >>

Calif. flight schools could see relief from costly regs

California flight schools could have an 18-month reprieve from financially burdensome new regulations—and a chance to plead their case to the legislature—if a new bill supported by several state lawmakers is passed. AOPA, NATA, and other members of the aviation community have explained that the financial burdens imposed by a new postsecondary education law could be insurmountable for many flight schools, and worked with lawmakers to propose legislation that would require the legislature to evaluate the potential implications of the law on flight instruction and aircraft maintenance programs. Read more >>

School briefs

  • The Norwood Flight Academy in Norwood, Mass., recently added a Cessna 182T to its fleet. The airplane will serve the school’s Class A operations course.
  • Chicagoland Aviation is now open at the Lewis University Airport in Romeoville, Ill. The school offers a Cessna 152 and 172 for training.
  • Daytona Beach-based Phoenix East Aviation is offering type ratings for the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737NG with simulators and computer ground school.


Inside AOPA

Prepare for runway risks

Don’t let your guard down just because you’re on the ground. Learn what you can do to stay safe in the airport environment in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Runway Safety interactive online course. The course has been updated to reflect terminology changes that took effect June 30. Also learn more about the change in terminology in this AOPA Live interview.

Heat wave

Sunny, clear skies on a summer day are enticing conditions for a $100 hamburger. But the sweltering heat of summer can also usher in severe thunderstorms, high density altitudes, and visibility-reducing haze. Get safety tips, brush up on your weather knowledge, and test your skills with award-winning courses in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s summer weather Safety Spotlight.

Great prices, deals, coupons available to AOPA members

Taking a cruise? Need to fly on the airlines? AOPA can still provide assistance. Through an arrangement with Orbitz, you benefit from travel discounts while AOPA gets a portion of the revenue you spend on hotels, airfare, cruises, and rental cars. Just by using Orbitz through AOPA Online, your travel planning is simplified. Your AOPA membership benefits you even further when it comes to rental cars. You have your choice of rental car companies: Alamo, Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz. Each of these companies also offers deals in addition to a discount. For example, Alamo waives the extra driver fee, while Hertz enters you automatically in its #1 Club Gold Program.

Use AOPA’s WorldPoints card to register for Summit

AOPA members who use the WorldPoints credit card earn points that easily convert to cash and gifts. Savvy AOPA members routinely earn a big hunk of cash back on a regular basis, while their purchases benefit AOPA as well. Register for AOPA Aviation Summit now using your WorldPoints card, and you’ll be awarded double points for the registration fee. The AOPA WorldPoints card also earns double points when you use it at 4,000 qualified FBOs all over the country. Every time you use the card, a portion of the revenue goes right back to AOPA to help fund general aviation initiatives. If you’re not yet a cardholder, check out the details online.


Lightspeed Sierra headset

Lightspeed’s popular Zulu headset now has a value-conscious companion in the product line. The Sierra is much like the Zulu in comfort and performance, including Bluetooth and audio connectivity, but at a much lower price. For $650, it’s a lot of headset.


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 received a third class medical certificate in May 2007. At that time a third class medical certificate was good for 36 months for those under age 40. I understand that they are now good for 60 months (if under 40). I turn 40 in August 2010. Is my certificate’s duration based on my age on the date of my exam or does it become invalid on my fortieth birthday?


Answer: You are in luck. The length of your airman medical certificate’s duration is based on your age at the time of the exam. Since you were under age 40 when you received your third class medical in May 2007, it is valid for 60 months and will expire at the end of May 2012. The duration of medical certificates was amended in 2008 when the FAA extended the duration for a third class medical from 36 months to 60 months for individuals under the age of 40 at the time of the examination. For those age 40 and older, the duration remains 24 months. The duration of a first class medical for individuals under the age of 40 was extended from 6 months to 12 months. For more information on medical certificates see AOPA’s chart comparing classes of medicals.


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.

what’s new online

The hitchhiker’s guide to commuting

You’ve heard that airline pilots can commute from their homes to their assigned pilot base, but do you know how it’s done? The Flight Training blog covers all you need to know about commuting this week. Read more >>

Picture Perfect

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!



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.

To include an event or to search all events in the calendar, visit AOPA Online. For airport details, including FBO fuel prices, see AOPA Airports.

Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics

The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Memphis, Tenn., July 10 and 11; Jacksonville, Fla., and Newark, N.J., July 17 and 18; Pittsburgh, Pa., July 24 and 25; Atlanta, Ga., and Fort Worth, Texas, Aug. 7 and 8; Champaign, Ill., Aug. 14 and 15; Costa Mesa, Calif., and Reno, Nev., Aug. 21 and 22; Allentown, Pa., Aug. 28 and 29. 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 Oshkosh, Wis., July 28, 29, and 30; Germantown, Tenn., Aug. 30; Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 31; and Maryville, Tenn., Sept. 1. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

Got news? Contact ePilot. Having difficulty using this service? Visit the ePilot Frequently Asked Questions now at AOPA Online or write to [email protected].

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Editorial Team: ePilot Flight Training Editor : Ian Twombly | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton Marsh
Production Team: Lezlie Ramsey, William Rockenbaugh, Mitch Mitchell

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