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Fighting frequency congestion
Arriving or departing a busy airport can tax any pilot’s skills. And when a hole finally opens up in the traffic flow, it may still be impossible to get a word in edgewise on the radio to announce your intentions or get an airport advisory (see the Sept. 16, 2005, " Training
Frequency congestion is a real headache—and it’s a constant reminder that a careful visual lookout is critical when operating under visual flight rules. Often the cause of frequency congestion is that numerous airports in the same area share a frequency, especially the unicom and common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) 122.8 MHz. Many student pilots notice this and ask why 122.8 MHz tends to be “hotter” than other CTAFs.
“Originally, 122.8 MHz was the standard unicom frequency for all airports. As flying activity and the number of airports increased, 122.7 MHz and 123.0 MHz were added to accommodate the increased traffic. Although three Unicom frequencies were unable to handle the general aviation Unicom traffic, additional frequencies were unavailable,” explains AOPA Online’s Air Traffic Services and Technology page. Complicating matters is that an airport sharing your frequency may have a runway with the same magnetic bearing as yours. Listen closely to announcements from pilots on the frequency for the airport in use.
Sometimes you’ll hear an air traffic controller or a fellow pilot inform an aircraft over the radio that a transmission was stepped on or “blocked.” So common is the problem that you can even find the term in the Pilot/Controller Glossary: “BLOCKED—Phraseology used to indicate that a radio transmission has been distorted or interrupted due to multiple simultaneous radio transmissions.”
The AOPA Online brief cited above notes that the situation is improving with changes that doubled the number of channels available to aviation. “AOPA successfully lobbied for additional frequencies when this change took place. Four more unicom frequencies became available: 122.725 MHz, 122.975 MHz, 123.050 MHz, and 123.075 MHz.” An example is Pinal Airpark in Marana, Ariz., using 123.05 MHz for CTAF and unicom.
Check AOPA Airports and your charts for current airport frequency information. Then review the Air Safety Institute’s Safety Hotspot: Operations at Nontowered Airports for a complete safety check before your next flight.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
All aviation colleges are not alike. Some programs are small, others are large; and the aircraft you will fly can vary widely among schools. How can you figure out what’s best for you? Try the Aviation College Resources at Flight Training Online, and don’t forget to search the magazine archives for pertinent articles.
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.
With the European Union Commission nearing a vote on adopting EU-wide pilot certification rules, AOPA is warning that the package—which does not include acceptance of third-country pilot credentials—would erect trade barriers with consequences felt in the U.S. flight training and manufacturing sectors. If passed into law, the proposal would require pilots who complete their flight training in the United States to repeat most of the exact same training upon returning to an EU state, and it would render the FAA instrument rating useless in Europe. Read more >>
The FAA has extended Lockheed Martin’s five-year contract to run the nation’s automated flight service stations until 2013. Another two-year option is possible when this extension expires. Lockheed Martin took over the system under an agreement awarded in 2005. The preceding five years have heralded considerable change. Read more >>
South Dakota transportation official solos
A first solo is always a time for celebration. When the student pilot happens to be South Dakota’s second-ranking transportation official who is also participating in the state’s effort to promote aviation, the occasion becomes even more of a special event. Read more >>
AOPA Aviation Summit must-see: Rod Machado
Flight Training and AOPA Pilot readers enjoy Rod Machado’s wit and wisdom within the pages of every issue. But you won’t want to miss an opportunity to hear Machado in person at this year’s AOPA Aviation Summit in Long Beach, Calif. He’ll share his brand of “Aviation Humor” on Thursday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. in the Long Beach Convention Center. Not sure what else to see at Summit? View more top picks from aviation personalities.
CFIs are habit-forming
Over the years, CFIs and other professionals have taught Flight Training contributor Ralph Hood several good practices, including the basics and additional tips and tricks. For instance, some of flying’s most important moments take place during the preflight checklist, and interrupting that flow can be critical. In one job, Hood regularly flew a Luscombe, Piper Comanche, Beechcraft Bonanza, 150-horsepower Cessna Cardinal, and any of several different ag planes. One way to ensure he went through the critical items on the checklist was the well-known acronym CIGAR TIP. Read more >>
Communicating with air traffic control is a breeze when you understand the meaning and purpose of the language used. But, when was the last time you studied the Pilot/Controller Glossary to beef up on ATC jargon? Do you know why your instructor loves it when the tower clears you “for the option”? What exactly does “pilot’s discretion” mean? Find out and get on the same page with ATC— take the quiz now. This quiz is underwritten by the AOPA Insurance Agency.
A word to the wise about carb ice
The word “ice” generally is used in conjunction with airframe icing, but it isn’t just chilly outside temperatures with moist air that can cause ice. For example, hot outside temperatures—even running in the triple digits—with humidity levels around 50 percent should have you primed for carb icing. But what are the telltale signs of carb icing? Hold the keys to combat carb ice by examining the Air Safety Institute’s topical Safety Brief. You will understand the danger, recognize the symptoms, and take corrective and prompt action.
Is your heart aflutter? That might not be a good thing
When your heart skips a beat, is it trying to tell you something? Abnormal rhythm or “dysrhythmia” can be caused by a number of situations, including stress, caffine, or atrial fibrillation. But its presence should not be ignored. Read more in this selection from the AOPA Medical Services Program newsletter. AOPA members enrolled in the Medical Services Program get valuable information like this—and much more—bimonthly.
RAM iPad suction cup mount
Are you using an iPad in the cockpit? Sporty’s offers the RAM iPad suction cup mount to keep it in place. The mount comes with a lifetime warranty and sells for $71.95. See the website or call 800-SPORTYS.
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 I log cross-country time if the airport I am flying to is only 23 miles from my home airport?
Answer: The short answer to that question is yes, with exceptions. FAR 61.1(b)(3)(i) defines cross-country time in broad terms. If the flight was accomplished in an aircraft by an individual with a pilot certificate and the flight included a landing at some place other than the departure airport and there was navigation involved, then it meets the definition. But, if a pilot wants to log cross-country time to meet the aeronautical experience requirements for a rating or certificate, a 23-mile flight would not count, as the point of landing in that case must be more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure. For an airline transport pilot certificate, no landing is required. Read more in AOPA’s subject report, Logbooks and Logging Time.
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
Do you recall your first flying lesson? If it wasn’t that long ago, our guest blogger’s account of her first lesson will help you to realize how far you’ve come in a short time. For everyone else, her impressions are a worthwhile reminder. See 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 Indianapolis, Ind., and Corpus Christi, Texas, Oct. 16 and 17; San Jose, Calif., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Oct. 23 and 24; San Diego, Calif., Albuquerque, N.M., and Austin, Texas, Nov. 6 and 7; Anchorage, Alaska, Atlanta, Ga., and Ashburn, Va., Nov. 20 and 21. 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 Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Madison, Wis., Oct. 11; Colorado Springs, Colo., Cohoes, N.Y., and Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 12; Northglenn, Colo., Tompkinsville, Ky., Gaithersburg, Md., and Manitowoc, Wis., Oct. 13; Mount Sterling, Ky., Oct. 14; Ypsilanti, Mich., and Portland, Ore., Oct. 18; Cleveland, Ohio, and Seattle, Wash., Oct. 19; Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 20; Indianapolis, Ind., Oct. 21; Concord, Calif., and Blacksburg, Va., Oct. 25; Grand Forks, S.D., and Danville, Va., Oct. 26; Garden City, N.Y., and Richmond, Va., Oct. 27; Hampton, Va., Oct. 28. 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