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Restrictions to visibility
The June 18 “ Training Tip: Many meanings of ‘solo’” took up limitations on student pilot solo flying, such as the requirement that the flight be made with visual reference to the surface at all times. This means not just avoiding flight above cloud decks, but also avoiding problems caused by other restrictions to visibility such as ground-obscuring haze—which can occur in stable air on cloudless days—that seem to otherwise pose no weather challenges.
Why can haze be a spoiler when conditions are generally benign? “Stable air is smooth because there is little vertical movement, but this also traps haze and pollutants, so visibility can be poor in stable air,” explains the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s “ Weather Strategies” seminar. If haze is reported, knowing the big picture can help you decide if conditions will improve or deteriorate along your route of flight, and when. For example, a stagnant high pressure area is expected to remain in place throughout the period of your flight, and haze is already affecting visibility.
What if your visibility aloft is breaking down? Flight rules specify the basic VFR weather minimums—but how can you measure that from the cockpit? Make developing the know-how a goal on any dual-instruction flight, no matter what the lesson plan for the day. “Practice estimating visibility with your flight instructor. Compare your estimates with surface reports and pilot reports,” recommended the Dec. 5, 2003, “ Training Tip: Estimating in-flight visibility.”
Remember that if conditions aloft are “interesting” to you, knowing about them will be of value to other pilots too. Make a timely pilot report (pirep). Your fellow aviators will really appreciate it, and making a pirep provides a valuable experience working with the flight service system. “All pilots should know how to make pireps and should ask for reports during preflight briefings. You should also ask for updated weather reports, including those from pilots, during flights,” wrote Jack Williams in “ Pirep plea,” in the January 2003 issue of Flight Training. Don’t know how to make a pirep? Try the AOPA Air Safety Foundation course Skyspotter: Pireps made easy .
Another tip on visibility: Because an opaque atmosphere conceals obstructions, embedded thunderstorms, and other hazards, treat any reported visibility restriction as not just an inconvenience, but as the serious weather phenomenon it is!
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Maybe you’re thinking about taking advantage of a buyer’s market and purchasing your first airplane. Or perhaps you’re simply looking to save money and purchase a used headset. Whatever it is you’re looking for, search for it on AOPA’s classified ads. The classifieds include airplanes, gear, jobs, and more. You can search or post something for sale for free. It’s one of the many ways AOPA seeks to serve its members.
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.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) June 15 released the notice of a rule prohibiting the “certification, manufacture, importation, sale, or continued use of 121.5 MHz ELTs.” The rule would suddenly make aircraft that are in full compliance with the federal aviation regulations in violation of federal communications law. “At this time, we caution anyone against purchasing a new ELT until this issue is resolved,” said AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Rob Hackman. “There’s a lot of misunderstanding at this time as to the status of this rule. As verified by the FCC, the rule has not been published in the Federal Register, and thereby no effective date can be determined. This provides AOPA and the general aviation industry the opportunity to address our concerns with the FCC and potentially influence the outcome.” Read more >>
The Civil Air Patrol is bringing young people the joy of flight this summer through its series of national flight academies in various locations around the country. According to CAP, more than 200 cadets will get the opportunity to fly at this year’s academies thanks to eight different academies scattered across the country. Cadets participate in either a powered or glider academy. The academies call for 30 hours of ground instruction and 10 hours of flight instruction. And if they’re ready, cadets are allowed to solo in that time. Read more >>
The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) have decided to end a 15-year relationship under which the two organizations shared office space and administrative functions. After an extended period of discussions, EAA and the NAFI board of directors agreed that NAFI will become a fully independent organization no later than March 1, 2011. Read more >>
Free flight lesson available through EAA
The Experimental Aircraft Association is offering certain eligible Young Eagles participants a certificate for a free first lesson. The program, part of the association’s Flight Plan of the Young Eagles program, is the next step in attempting to transition young people from simple enthusiasts into certificated pilots. Kids are at least 14 years old, have taken a Young Eagles flight, and have finished the first chapter in Sporty’s Pilot Shop Private Pilot online training course. The course is free to Young Eagles participants, and includes a logbook as well. Read more >>
Fltops.com to host career fair
Fltops.com is hosting a career fair in Atlanta, and hiring airlines are expected to attend. Also featured will be a “focus on the future” session catering to pilots thinking about starting a career, or looking for information on various flight school and academies. According to fltops.com, at least 14 companies are expected to attend, many of them ready to hire pilots on the spot. Many will be regional airlines, who are hiring as many as 20 pilots a month, a clear indication that the airline hiring freeze is thawing. Read more >>
Taxi terminology: Test your knowledge of ATC’s new lingo
Starting June 30, air traffic control will adopt some new lingo for issuing taxi instructions to cross runways. You’ll only hear “taxi to” if you are arriving at an airport and taxiing to a ramp or gate. But do you know what to expect when departing? Do you need to change the way you read back clearances? Test your knowledge in this AOPA Air Safety Foundation runway safety quiz sponsored by the AOPA Insurance Agency.
Flight school association meets
The Flight School Association of North America (FSANA) held its first International Flight School Operators Conference last week in St. Louis. The program featured panels on flight school and student pilot financing, developing a business model, improving student pilot completions, flight school risk management, how to make a marketing plan, and building an international flight school program. Attendees included flight school representatives and at least one aircraft manufacturer. The group, which was formed a year ago, represents flight schools and other flight training-related support businesses.
AOPA member relies on Legal Services Plan for leaseback
Ask Mark Bragg what he likes most about AOPA’s Legal Services Plan and he says, “I ask a question and I get a direct answer with no messing around.” Although Bragg has been an AOPA member for 30 years, it wasn’t until he bought his latest airplane, a Piper Chieftain, two years ago that he signed up for AOPA’s Legal Services Plan. “Legalities are such an overwhelming part of my business life. I need to have knowledgeable people and that’s why I count on AOPA,” he said. Read more >>
Run the numbers, beat the heat
High density altitude can have a significant effect on aircraft performance: lackluster climb, longer takeoff and landing roll, and reduced net thrust. Pilots who underestimate how the hot day and high altitude will affect takeoff, climb, cruise, and landing risk joining like-minded aviators in the files of the NTSB. Before you fly at high-density-altitude airports this summer, calculate the aircraft’s performance carefully. Find out what you can do to keep high density altitude from getting the best of you in a subject report from AOPA’s Pilot Information Center.
Head in the clouds? Challenge yourself
The first time flying in the soup is something no instrument pilot will forget—it ranks up there with a student pilot’s first solo. But the nuances and preciseness of instrument flying can quickly fade from the memory. Challenge yourself and keep your knowledge fresh with the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s series of IFR Chart Challenge online minicourses, VOR Approach , ILS Approach , and RNAV Approach .
King Schools iPhone courses
King Schools is now offering five of its many training courses for the iPhone. With topics such as takeoffs and landings and communication, the iPhone application allows users to watch on the go. The iPhone applications complement the company’s 60 online courses.
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: What does “cleared for the option” mean at a towered airport?
Answer: When air traffic control authorizes the “cleared for the option” procedure, the aircraft is permitted to make a low approach; missed approach; or touch-and-go, stop-and-go, or full-stop landing. As a training aid, it enables an instructor or examiner to observe the reaction of a student or applicant under changing conditions. If you would like to utilize the flexibility this procedure provides, make your request before passing the final approach fix on an instrument approach or while downwind in the pattern. This procedure is only used at locations with an operational control tower and is subject to ATC approval. For answers to other questions involving air traffic control, see the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Web page, Ask ATC.
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
Let’s get crossed
Face it—you are nervous about crosswind landings. You get apprehensive when the wind starts blowing, you hope it doesn’t come up while you’re in the practice area, and you have little confidence when you must land with a crosswind. Check out this week’s Flight Training blog to help alleviate your fears. Crosswinds should be easy to handle, says Flight Training Deputy Editor Ian J. Twombly. Read more >>
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!
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 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.
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Editorial Team: ePilot Flight Training Editor : Ian Twombly | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton Marsh