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The ‘pre-planned’ cross-country
Doing your basic cross-country planning well in advance of the flight is a best practice for pilots. Free from the press of time, you can spread out your charts, plot possible courses, and look over terrain, airspace, and obstructions. Radio frequencies, visual checkpoints, and runway lengths and bearings can be researched and reviewed. You can inspect photographic images of the airport and surrounding area in AOPA Airports.
It used to be that an applicant for a private pilot certificate would show up for the flight test and be instructed on the spot by the designated examiner to plan a cross-country flight to an airport of the examiner’s choosing. With the clock ticking, the student would sit down to plan the flight—not always under ideal conditions—and the checkride would proceed from there.
That’s not how it’s done anymore. Cross-country planning for the practical test is a homework assignment for you. Reviewing it is part of the examiner’s required plan of action for conducting your checkride.
The first of nine objectives of Task D, Area of Operation: Preflight Preparation, in the Private Pilot Practical Test Standards is for the examiner to ascertain that the student “exhibits knowledge of the elements related to cross-country flight planning by presenting and explaining a pre-planned VFR cross country flight, as previously assigned by the examiner. On the day of the practical test, the final flight plan shall be to the first fuel stop, based on maximum allowable passengers, baggage, and/or cargo loads using real-time weather.” (Emphasis added.)
This process suggests a way to invest some of the required three hours of practical test preparation you must log with your instructor “within the preceding two calendar months” of the flight test: Become familiar with the cross-country route, and check out airports that might become possible choices for diversion. This would also be a good time to review these interactive quizzes on cross-country subjects on the Flight Training website.
While awaiting flight test day, don’t slip up and let your charts or flight publications expire. Order replacements early.
A fringe benefit of getting your “previously assigned” cross-country task in advance is that it gives you an opportunity for some early contact with your examiner. Most will try to set you at ease about the upcoming test.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Wake turbulence. Fuselage. TRSA. MOA. Pirep. What does it all mean? Aviation is an industry of acronyms and technical language. Especially helpful to newcomers to aviation is AOPA's Student Glossary for General Aviation . Log on to the Flight Training website for a glossary of terms, a phonetic alphabet chart, and a new pilot's guide to air traffic control communications.
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 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.
ATP Flight School thinks it has the solution to the problems aspiring airline pilots will face beginning in three years when they will be required to have 1,500 hours to get a job. ATP and Mountain State University have teamed up to offer a college degree and flight training at any of ATP’s 22 nationwide locations. ATP said its program offers students a competitive advantage because instead of roughly 250 hours of experience they might receive by graduation at a standard university, graduates should have approximately 1,500 hours by the time they finish the degree program at ATP. Read more >>
New Mexico flight instructor Wally Funk has wanted to experience space flight her entire life. In 1951 she was one of a group of women who participated in a program that evaluated women’s fitness for space flight. She passed, but before she could continue to advanced testing, the program was canceled when NASA declined to sponsor it. She never gave up the dream, and purchased a ticket on Virgin Galactic's commercial suborbital space flight from southern New Mexico, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Funk attended the spaceport dedication in October. Flights are set to begin in the next 18 months.
Weather changes constantly. The trick is to understand and recognize when it is not cooperating with your flight. That’s why you’ll want to take the Air Safety Institute’s WeatherWise: Ceiling and Visibility online course. It explains the hazards large weather systems can bring, such as changing air temperature and moisture content, which may lower ceilings and visibility. The changes can occur slowly enough to catch you off guard on a cross-country flight, even lure you to continue flight into deteriorating weather until it is impossible to maintain VFR. Take the course >>
Flight school briefs
Take the stress out of holiday shopping
Holiday shopping is one of those tasks that weighs heavily on our minds at this time of year. And nothing can turn even the cheeriest among us to a downright Grinch quite like a trip to the mall—especially on the most dreaded of all holiday shopping days: “Black Friday!” Why not let AOPA help you put some joy back into finding that perfect gift for your loved ones? For the first time ever, AOPA is offering two new ways for you to shop with ease in the comfort of your own home through the AOPA Holiday Store powered by Amazon and the AOPA Lifestyles Collection. Read more >>
Does your security knowledge measure up?
Breathless, overhyped “exposés” of supposed GA security problems are less common in the news these days, but the fact remains that our facilities and aircraft are still very much in the public eye. Would you know who to call if you saw suspicious activity at your airport? Do you know how to make your airplane harder to steal? Take the Air Safety Institute’s GA security safety quiz and find out.
Holiday cruise deals from AOPA Certified Travel
Thanksgiving, December holidays, and New Year’s ... they'll all be here before you know it. Why not celebrate at sea aboard some of the world’s coolest cruise ships? Unbeatable value and dazzling destinations are all within reach. With 21 departure ports conveniently located along U.S. shores, you’re likely just a short flight or drive from a holiday cruise. A portion of all the revenue generated is returned to AOPA, which allows the association to continue its efforts to maintain the freedom, safety, and affordability of general aviation. For more information or to book your trip, see the website.
Incentives, low interest rates make 2010 a time to buy
The extension of bonus depreciation, which allows a business to depreciate 50 percent of the cost of a capital asset within the year the purchase is made, gives businesses incentive to purchase an aircraft and reap the benefits of ownership before the end of 2010. An additional benefit, for both personal and business-use aircraft purchases, is the current low interest rates on financing new or used aircraft, along with the lowest purchase prices on used aircraft in a decade. Visit the AOPA Aircraft Financing Program for information on financing an aircraft. Read more >>
Damien Delgaizo’s ‘Tailwheel: 201, Beyond the Basics’
In his first DVD, Tailwheel: 101, tailwheel instructor Damien Delgaizo used ground school and in-flight footage to illustrate proper conventional-gear takeoffs and landings. In his follow-up, Tailwheel: 201, Beyond the Basics, Delgaizo delves into short-field operations, advanced slips, and off-airport operations. The DVD is available for $39.95 from Pilotmall.com.
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: As a student pilot, once I solo, can I carry passengers?
Answer: Absolutely not. This is something your flight instructor should talk with you about, certainly before you solo. The general limitations for student pilots are spelled out in Federal Aviation Regulation Part 61.89. In addition to not carrying passengers, a student pilot also cannot act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying property for compensation or hire. If you are close to soloing, you are already closing in on that coveted private pilot certificate. It won’t be long before you will be able to take all your friends and family flying with you. For more information on student pilot issues, read the FAA’s Student Pilot Guide .
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
There’s a lot of merger activity going on at the regional and major airlines. What does it mean for the future? Chip Wright makes a prediction in this week’s Flight Training blog.
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 Air Safety Institute Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Denver, Colo., and Orlando, Fla., Dec. 4 and 5; Northbrook, Ill., Dec. 11 and 12; Long Beach, Calif., and San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 8 and 9; Jackson, Miss., and Portland, Ore., Jan. 15 and 16. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Can’t make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.
Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars
Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars are scheduled in Marietta, Ga., Nov. 30; Birmingham, Ala., Dec. 1; Pensacola, Fla., Dec. 2; Tampa, Fla., Dec. 7; Lake Worth, Fla., and Timonium, Md., Dec. 8; Mesa, Ariz., and Reno, Nev., Jan. 10; Tucson, Ariz., and Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 11; Milpitas, Calif., Jan. 12; Santa Rosa, Calif., Jan. 13. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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Editorial Team: ePilot Flight Training Editor : Jill W. Tallman | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton K. Marsh