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AOPA ePilot Flight Training Edition Volume 10, Issue 11 — March 12, 2010  

In This Issue:
‘Flight Training’ magazine is all new
Record-setting pilot gets more honors
AOPA awards training scholarship





‘Change of plans’

You’re inbound to a busy tower-controlled airport with two long runways. Surface winds are out of the northwest, so it’s logical to expect that you will be landing on Runway 29. The ATIS broadcast confirms that this runway is in use.


What traffic pattern entry will you be instructed to fly? It jars your ear slightly to hear the tower controller instruct you to “enter a right base leg for Runway 29.” But as you visualize your position, that makes sense. On your present southwesterly heading, you’re practically established on that leg already. Although right traffic is infrequent at non-towered airports like your home base, you know that it is readily available with a control tower directing operations (see the Nov. 5, 2004, Training Tip).


All is well. But when the tower calls your number again, some new instructions have you playing catch-up. “Change of plans,” says the controller. “Enter the right downwind for Runway 36. Traffic will be departing on Runway 29, a Boeing 737.”


Calmly you consider this change and realize that only a minor adjustment is required. Good thing your ground study of potential cross-country destinations has included lots of practice visualizing traffic patterns and entries. Otherwise, this could be a setup for problems. Landing mishaps involving new pilots faced with unexpected instructions are not uncommon when the pilot became unnerved or could not restabilize the approach. That’s unfortunate, because changes of plans are often the name of the game. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Safety Advisor, Operations at Towered Airports , gives examples:


“Be flexible. Controllers at busy airports use a variety of techniques to keep traffic flowing smoothly. You may be asked to:

  • Fly a faster than normal final approach;
  • Extend your downwind;
  • Switch to another runway at the last minute;
  • Do a 360-degree turn or S-turns on final to allow preceding traffic to clear; or
  • Taxi around another aircraft in the runup area.”

Remember that a different active runway means different headwind or crosswind components on final approach. And don’t forget about surface conditions. One pilot who decided to switch runways during practice found icy hazards waiting, as recounted in this report on a minor incident.


Bottom line: Stay alert! A change of plans is always possible.


Flight training is a wonderful experience, but sometimes it can be difficult and challenging. That’s why you may need some support to get you through those tough times. AOPA has a number of resources, not the least of which is the Let’s Go Flying Web site and its associated blog. The blog is filled with personal stories of those who have triumphed during the difficult times in flight training to become certificated pilots. There are tips, inspirational stories, and other advice a student might want or need along the way.


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.


New ‘Flight Training’ magazine debuts

Flight Training magazine is all new. Starting this week members who receive the magazine will be reading an entirely new and improved version of Flight Training. The magazine includes all-new sections and features, including spots on great places to fly, interviews with notable pilots and students, and targeted technique articles every student needs. Flight Training Online is all new as well, featuring expanded career and instructor content, and videos and social media interaction. Read more >>

Record-setting pilot receives additional honors

Barrington Irving, who in 2007 became the first African-American to fly around the world, received additional recognition of his achievements in February, which has been designated Black History Month. In 2007 Irving, then age 23, flew a custom-made Cessna Columbia 400 23,000 nm in a trek that lasted three months, departing from Miami’s Opa Locka Airport. Irving was among 100 honorees in “ The Grio’s 100: History Makers in the Making,” a compilation of the next generation of African-American history makers and industry leaders. Read more >>

AOPA presents student pilot scholarship

A student pilot from Fairbanks, Alaska, has received AOPA’s first Student Pilot Scholarship, AOPA Foundation President Karen Gebhart announced recently at the twenty-first annual International Women in Aviation Conference in Orlando, Fla. Camila Roy of Fairbanks plans to use the money to complete helicopter training. Roy was one of dozens of applicants for the $3,000 scholarship. She intends to use her rotary-wing certificate to provide firefighting and other emergency services in Alaska. As part of its commitment to growing the pilot population, AOPA established the scholarship program for a woman pursuing a private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate who has obtained a student pilot certificate.

Preventive maintenance primer

Did you know you can change your airplane’s oil? Or that it’s OK to change the tires as the owner or operator? These and many other items come under the category of preventive maintenance, and are regulated by the FAA. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has a new quiz to help you learn all the tricks and tips to DIYing the airplane experience. Test your knowledge today. The quiz is made possible thanks to underwriting from the AOPA Insurance Agency.

NTSB finds no safety benefit yet with glass-cockpit aircraft

A study recently released by the National Transportation Safety Board found no major safety benefit from glass-cockpit aircraft. According to the study, glass-cockpit aircraft were involved in fewer accidents during the study period than conventional airplanes, but those accidents were more likely to be fatal. The NTSB noted, however, that the safety record could improve from better training. The NTSB offered six recommendations to the FAA as a result of the study, five of which centered around pilot training. Read more >>

inside aopa

Support AOPA, get $50 bonus with new checking account

Now you can show the world you’re a proud member of AOPA when you write a check or use your debit card. Plus, you can support the association at no additional cost to you. That’s the idea behind the AOPA checking account from Bank of America. Developed especially for AOPA members, the checking account gives you benefits that save time, make it easy to do your banking online, and even let you save money at hundreds of participating online retailers. And every check and debit card prominently displays the AOPA logo. Best of all, Bank of America is offering a $50 bonus after you open a qualifying new checking account by March 31, 2010. Learn more >>

Hertz helps you support GA and gives you one free day

As an AOPA member, renting your next vehicle from Hertz not only gives you up to 25 percent off and free enrollment in the #1 Club Gold Program, but also will grant you one free day. Receive the first day free on a minimum three-day weekend rental when PC# 139554 is included in your reservation of an Economy through Premium vehicle. Vehicle pick-up must be on a Thursday or Friday, now through March 31, 2010. A portion of all revenue generated will be returned to AOPA and reinvested to support the association’s daily efforts to maintain the freedom, safety, and affordability of general aviation. Reserve your car today. Click on the “Quote It” button and your AOPA CDP# 10232 will automatically be applied to your reservation.

When you rent an airplane, what coverage do you need?

The FBO that rents you an aircraft is protecting its interests, not yours. You need your own renters insurance. As an AOPA member, you can buy renters insurance from the AOPA Insurance Agency, and it’s as easy as buying car insurance. What’s more, as an AOPA member, you get a 5-percent discount off the regular premium and a 10-percent discount when you renew if you have maintained a clean flying record. Read more >>


New pilot store offers 12-month guarantee

Red Prop Pilot Store, a new online aviation product retailer, is offering a special guarantee. Instead of a standard manufacturer warranty, Red Prop Pilot Store will act as a middleman and guarantee any product it sells for 12 months. According to the store, it will fix or replace anything that’s a problem immediately. The store sells headsets, chart accessories, flight bags, 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 am 25 years old and have a combination student pilot certificate/third class medical that was issued in June 2007. My flight instructor told me that the student pilot certificate has expired even though my third class medical is good until June 2012. Is he correct? If so, can I get a new student pilot certificate without having to get a new medical as well?


Answer: Yes, your flight instructor is correct. At the time your student pilot certificate was issued, its validity period was 24 months. The regulations changed, though, on Oct. 20, 2009. A student pilot certificate for an individual under the age of 40 at the time of his or her medical exam is now good for 60 months; for those over the age of 40 it is valid for 24 months. You can get a new student pilot certificate from a designated pilot examiner (DPE) or your local flight standards district office (FSDO). It is not necessary to get a new medical because your current one is still valid. It also contains your solo endorsements, so be sure to hold on to it. See AOPA’s Guide to Leaning to Fly for more information.


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.

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’s Airport Directory Online.

Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics

The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Ontario, Calif., March 20 and 21; Phoenix, Ariz., King of Prussia, Pa., and Virginia Beach, Va., March 27 and 28; San Diego, Calif., Cincinnati, Ohio, and Ashburn, Va., April 10 and 11; Denver, Colo., Boston, Mass., and Salt Lake City, Utah, April 17 and 18; Tampa, Fla., Atlanta, Ga., and Indianapolis, Ind., April 24 and 25. 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 Bedford, Mass., March 15; Ypsilanti, Mich., March 22; Birmingham, Ala., Northbrook, Ill., and Cleveland, Ohio, March 23; Marietta, Ga., Bolingbrook, Ill., Gaithersburg, Md., and Columbus, Ohio, March 24; Rockford, Ill., and Indianapolis, Ind., March 25; Brooklyn Center, Minn., March 29; Clayton, Mo., and Pittsburgh, Pa., April 5; Springfield, Mo., and New Cumberland, Pa., April 6; Allentown, Pa., April 7; King of Prussia, Pa., April 8; Lynchburg, Va., April 13. 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: Daniel Pixton, Lezlie Ramsey, William Rockenbaugh, Mitch Mitchell

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