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The flight is a go, the preflight is complete, and you are taxiing for takeoff. Just one more step before launch: the pre-takeoff checklist. It’s a moment of great anticipation, after which you’ll advise the tower, “Ready for takeoff,” or prepare to take the runway at your nontowered field.
Takeoff is always thrilling, but don’t let thrills override your duty of care. The engine runup, instrument checks, and system checks shouldn’t leave you less than completely satisfied. Remember, under the federal aviation regulations, it’s the pilot in command—not the owner, mechanic, or other party—“who is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.”
Aircraft checklists vary, but the essentials are always there. Seatbelts and shoulder harnesses (for all occupants) must be secure, and cabin doors closed and locked. The fuel valve must be properly positioned, and in some aircraft, electric fuel pump on. Cowl flaps, if equipped, should be open. Trim, instruments, and radios should be set; flight controls free and correct.
Pay close attention to your engine during the magneto check. You may know that roughness on one mag may be the result of spark plug fouling, possibly from low power settings during ground operations. Leaning may resolve it. No drop in rpm during a mag check? Evidence, perhaps, of a defective P-lead; an ungrounded mag requires prompt attention. (See the April 9 “ Training Tip: Props and safety.”)
Then there’s the less-common situation of one magneto yielding more of an rpm drop than the other: “The operating manual will recommend a maximum allowable difference. Typical is about 50 rpm. It is possible for the rpm drop on each mag to be within limits but the difference between the mags to be excessive. The most common problem here is improper timing of one or both magnetos. Get it checked out. A very small difference between the mags is all right,” wrote Earl C. Downs in the January 2002 Flight Training feature “ The magneto check.”
A great resource for being ready for your pre-takeoff checks is the guidance in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Engine Operations Safety Advisor, or its interactive online course Engine and Propeller .
Everything in order? Then it’s time to key the microphone and inform the tower that you are ready for takeoff.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Being engaged in your training means seeking out all the information you can from the industry’s experts. AOPA features many of those experts on AOPA Live, an Internet video site dedicated to all of AOPA’s videos. They include presentations by Flight Training magazine’s Rod Machado, and many more. Learn about aerobatic flight, growing the pilot population, International Learn to Fly Day, how to better use GPS, and much more. AOPA Live content is added often, so check back for more.
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.
Beginning June 30, air traffic controllers will be required to issue specific taxiing and runway crossing instructions for each runway to be crossed. Controllers will no longer use the familiar “taxi to Runway XX” phraseology, which currently allows an aircraft to cross all runways intersecting its route to the departure runway. Arriving aircraft will still hear the phrase “taxi to” when instructed to taxi to the gate or ramp; however, controllers in these situations still will be required to issue specific crossing instructions for each runway encountered on the taxi route. Read more >>
The Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) and Bristow Academy have teamed to add helicopter flight training to the university’s aviation program. The two programs are targeting military veterans eligible for educational support through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The FIT College of Aeronautics fixed-wing flight operations are based at Melbourne International Airport, but the new rotary-wing training will be offered at nearby Space Coast Regional in Titusville, Fla. All college coursework and ground school sessions will take place at FIT. Read more >>
In an effort to showcase the joy and utility of flight, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) has dedicated May 15 as International Learn to Fly Day. The day is aimed at growing the pilot population and the awareness of general aviation by getting people up for their first flight, and by showing just how easy it is to become a pilot. EAA and AOPA have teamed to promote the event, but local groups all over the country are getting involved and getting people to the airport. Check out AOPA’s special Web page for more information, and to find out how to participate.
Don’t get caught running on empty
Fuel management accidents are among the most preventable in general aviation, yet they happen once a week on average. Do you know when you can trust your fuel gauges, or how to ensure refueling doesn’t result in fuel contamination? Test your knowledge in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s “ Fuel Awareness” quiz. The foundation’s safety quizzes, underwritten by the AOPA Insurance Agency, are now part of the AOPA Accident Forgiveness program.
Hertz offers AOPA members exclusive savings
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 gives you up to $30 off your weekend rental! Save $10 per day, up to $30 off a weekend rental when PC# 144336 is included in your reservation of an economy or higher class car. The offer is valid for pickup through June 13. 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.
FAR/AIM flashcard app from ASA
Studying on the go for your next knowledge test or checkride just got a little easier. ASA has introduced an iPhone application that offers flashcards covering the rules, regulations, and guidance set out in the federal aviation regulations and the Aeronautical Information Manual. The FAR/AIM Flashcards app sells for $9.99 and can be used on an iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. For information on all of ASA’s iPhone apps, visit the website.
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 a pilot replace an ELT (emergency locator transmitter) battery as part of preventive maintenance?
Answer: Yes, the pilot/operator can replace an ELT battery under Appendix A to Federal Aviation Regulation Part 43, “Major Alterations, Major Repairs, and Preventive Maintenance.” An individual must be able to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, and the battery has to have a plug-in or snap-on connector replacement where no soldering is required. Don’t forget, too, that the new expiration date for replacing or recharging the battery must be legibly marked on the outside of the transmitter and entered in the aircraft maintenance records. Read more about this in “ A Pilot’s Guide to Preventive Maintenance.”
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
Flight Training blog: Go for a spin
A key component to proper training is pushing beyond your comfort zone. It's what the military does best. And it's a tactic that even experienced pilots should try in the right setting. The new Flight Training blog has a post this week about that very subject. Fair warning: We're going spinning. 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 Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Kansas City, Mo., and Albany, N.Y., May 22 and 23; Phoenix, Ariz., Orlando, Fla., and Minneapolis, Minn., June 5 and 6; Columbus, Ohio, and Ashburn, Va., June 12 and 13; San Jose, Calif., and Charlotte, N.C., June 26 and 27. 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 Palo Alto, Calif., May 20; 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].
Editorial Team: ePilot Flight Training Editor : Ian Twombly | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton Marsh