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The following stories from the March 19, 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.


Alert and informed

The March 12 “ Training Tip” discussed how to deal with changes of plans during your arrival at a busy airport. That need may exist on the ground, too. For example, temporary disruptions of normal runway and taxiway operations can make it challenging to get around correctly at an airport.


You’ve probably overflown airports with permanently closed runways. You look down and see a big yellow X painted at each end and at 1,000-foot intervals. Other runway markings are obliterated, as described in the Aeronautical Information Manual (2-3-6). How are runways marked when closure is only temporary? Here is an excerpt from the AIM´s guidance: “To provide a visual indication to pilots that a runway is temporarily closed, crosses are placed on the runway only at each end of the runway.” However, “a visual indication may not be present depending on the reason for the closure, duration of the closure, airfield configuration and the existence and the hours of operation of an airport traffic control tower. Pilots should check NOTAMs and the Automated Terminal Information System (ATIS) for local runway and taxiway closure information.” Also see the chapter’s guidance about closed taxiways.


These are the real-world conditions that challenge your ability to function in dynamic airport environments, as designated pilot examiner Dave Wilkerson emphasized in his “Checkride” column in the March 2009 Flight Training: “Judgment applies to airport markings in an extra-special way when those markings are temporary, and temporary markings exist for many reasons.” He cautioned against complacency, counseling, “When pilots are in situations that take them regularly to familiar airports, they may not even notice when changes are made—even when those changes are anything but subtle!”


Here’s an example: A pilot researching runway information for the Pittsfield, Maine, airport (2B7) one day last week would have seen this information in the Airport/Facility Directory: “RWY 01–19: H4000X100 (ASPH) S–38, D–49 MIRL 0.6% up N.” But a check of NOTAMs the same day would have revealed this item: “RUNWAY 1/19 NOW RUNWAY 18/36.” Reviewing your cross-country planning for a flight there, it wouldn’t take an examiner long to find out whether you had done your homework.


‘The Student Pilot’s Flight Manual’

The late William K. Kershner’s “The Student Pilot’s Flight Manual” was recently released in a new tenth edition from Aviation Supplies & Academics Inc. The newest edition was edited by Kershner’s son, William C. Kershner. “The Student Pilot’s Flight Manual” is intended as a ground school book, syllabus, and maneuvers guide all in one. ASA sells the popular manual for $24.95.


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: Can you explain the difference between a sigmet and a convective sigmet?


Answer: Sigmets (significant meteorological information) and convective sigmets are advisories issued to alert pilots of serious weather conditions that pose a hazard to aircraft of all sizes. Sigmets provide information regarding non-convective weather conditions such as severe and extreme turbulence, severe icing, and widespread dust or sandstorms that reduce visibility to less than three miles. A convective sigmet is issued for severe thunderstorms with surface winds greater than 50 knots, hail at the surface greater than or equal to three-quarters of an inch in diameter, or tornadoes. They also are issued to notify pilots of embedded thunderstorms, lines of thunderstorms, or thunderstorms with heavy or greater precipitation that affect at least 40 percent of an area 3,000 square feet or more. Read more in the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and the article “ Wx Watch: Sigmet Details.”


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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