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The altitude above you
Having dissected two parts of one of aviation’s venerable old cautionary sayings in the past two Training Tips, let’s tackle the remaining item: the whys and hows of conserving altitude.
Altitude awareness is a way of thinking about flight planning that emphasizes not wasting altitude that could make the difference in an emergency. But it doesn’t propound the impractical idea that a flight should be conducted at the highest possible altitude every time.
In cruise on a cross-country, competing factors that shape your altitude choice may include winds aloft or cloud layers. Pilot reports may alert you to turbulence at one altitude and smooth air at another. Navaid reception, haze, and the airspace you must fly through all play a part.
Consider a flight to practice ground reference maneuvers before a checkride. During the practice you must fly an altitude from 600 to 1,000 feet agl. Altitude awareness in this scenario means selecting a suitable reference object for the maneuver while ensuring that you can remain within gliding range of an emergency landing area at the expected descent rate for your trainer at its recommended glide speed.
Here’s another example. Passengers flying with a certificated pilot on a local sightseeing ride will enjoy the thrills and fun without ever realizing the balancing act that shaped their pilot’s choice of altitude. Viewing objects on the ground calls for a reasonably low altitude. Safety requires the pilot know maximum elevation figures and maintain a healthy safety margin above them. This is another case where having some forced landing sites picked out in advance adds to safety.
The first tip in this trilogy, “The runway behind you,” stressed the importance of getting up to a safe maneuvering altitude quickly after takeoff. Having the runway “made” as early as possible during descent and the traffic pattern is the downward version of the same idea.
Got it made? Avoid giving back the safety margin by flying too far downwind, or getting too low on final approach.
A traffic tip: If the pattern’s crowded, and it looks like you will have to extend your pattern, try slowing down a bit. That should keep the runway “made” for you while giving the aircraft ahead of you time to land and taxi clear.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
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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.
Taylor De Ley of Yorba Linda, Calif., may be only 17, but as he starts his college education he has already focused on a professional pilot career and completed a 10,492-nautical-mile solo flight to the four corners of the nation. That’s more than most kids his age. He now has 340 total flying hours. Read more >>
SimCom Training Centers of Orlando, Fla., will acquire 14 simulators and training programs from FlightSafety International in a deal the company says responds to the current economic climate and the future needs of general aviation. Transfers of equipment associated with the acquisition, which AOPA reported was in the works July 20, are expected by year’s end. Read more >>
As several hundred pilots find out every year, a runway incursion can ruin your day. One of the best ways to avoid joining them is to be able to identify (and understand) airport signs and markings at a glance. Ever catch yourself having to stop and ponder while taxiing? Check your knowledge with this week’s Air Safety Institute safety quiz, sponsored by the AOPA Insurance Agency. Take the quiz >>
Arizona flight school establishes scholarship program
Guidance Aviation of Prescott, Ariz., has established a new scholarship program to benefit area college students who are pursuing associate degrees in aeronautical science and helicopter flying. Guidance said it is donating $11,000 to the Yavapai College Foundation to provide financial assistance for students in need. The flight school pledged to donate at least $15,000 per semester.
Pilots’ group awards $22,000 in scholarships
The National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA) Education Fund has awarded $22,000 in scholarships to five students who are pursuing careers in aviation. The recipients were Spencer Conklin, a student at the University of North Dakota; Ethan Coughlin, a student at the University of North Dakota; Jason Goodman, who is completing a flight instructor certificate at a Massachusetts flight school; Michael Turner, a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; and Michelle Yates, who is pursuing an airline transport pilot certificate at a Florida flight school.
Take the guesswork out of risk assessment
As pilots, we make decisions about risk all the time. Most of them are clear-cut, but there will be “gray areas” to contend with—which is why the Air Safety Institute developed an innovative application to help. The Air Safety Institute Flight Risk Evaluator is a two-part online course that first covers the basics of formal risk management, and then lets you input the details of an upcoming flight and get an assessment of the potential risks. Give it a try >>
Deadline extended for Summit pre-registration discount
There is still time to pre-register for AOPA Aviation Summit and save up to 25 percent. AOPA’s exclusive pre-registration discount has been extended through Sept. 1. The event takes place in Hartford, Conn., Sept. 22 through 24. Read more >>
Add the AOPA flashlight to your flight bag
The durable AOPA flashlight featuring the association’s wings logo uses shatterproof LEDs that last more than 110,000 hours. Independent switches control three red and three white LEDs so you don’t have to scroll through and ruin your night vision. It uses two AA batteries (included) and will provide up to 80 hours of light. The flashlight measures seven inches long and weighs 18 ounces. Find it at the AOPA Store for $29.95. You’ll make your flying easier while supporting AOPA’s crucial efforts on behalf of general aviation.
Get member benefits with AOPA World MasterCard
Want to earn even more WorldPoints for every dollar you spend? When you use your AOPA World MasterCard at Aircraft Spruce and Specialty, King Schools, Sporty’s Pilot Shop, and select FBOs, you earn double points that you can then exchange for cash and merchandise. Read more >>
‘Damian DelGaizo’s Ski Flying 101’
The flight instructor who brought you Damian DelGaizo’s Tailwheel 101 DVD series now invites you to check out tailwheel flying on skis. Using a Piper J-3 Cub, Delgaizo presents ground and in-flight lessons that explain how to keep winter flying operations safe and fun. The DVD sells for $19.95 and is available from Sporty’s.
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 GPS instrument approach be flown with an expired database?
Answer: You might be surprised to know that the answer is yes. If the database has expired the pilot must verify that the instrument procedure has not been amended since the expiration. For en route and terminal use, the pilot must verify the data for correctness if the database is not current. A word to the wise, though: Using old database information for IFR operations is unsafe and strongly discouraged. See Table 1-1-6 in the Aeronautical Information Manual for other GPS approval requirements and authorized uses. For more on GPS technology for instrument flying, take the Air Safety Institute’s GPS for IFR Operations course.
Got a question for our technical services staff? Email [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.
Every noise that an airplane makes has a significance attached to it. Would you know when something’s amiss just by listening? Chip Wright tells you why this is so important in this week’s Flight Training blog.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a staff assistant, application support engineer, .Net developer, aviation technical specialist, and manager of airspace and modernization. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
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 8,500 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 Phoenix, Ariz., and Bellevue, Wash., Sept. 10 and 11; Sacramento, Calif., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Richmond, Va., Sept. 17 and 18; Baltimore, Md., Sept. 24 and 25; and San Jose, Calif., and Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 1 and 2. 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 Wichita, Kan., Germantown, Tenn., Fort Worth, Texas, and Houston, Texas, Sept. 12; Bethany, Okla., Nashville, Tenn., Addison, Texas, and San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 13; Fayetteville, Ark., Maryville, Tenn., and Austin, Texas, Sept. 14; Little Rock, Ark., Sept. 15; Rochester, Minn., Sept. 19; Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Sept. 20; Bellevue, Neb., Sept. 21; Hartford, Conn., and Olathe, Kan., Sept. 22; and Hartford, Conn., Sept. 23 and 24.
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