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Dec. 23, 2011, issue of 'AOPA ePilot: Flight Training Edition'Dec. 23, 2011, issue of 'AOPA ePilot: Flight Training Edition'

AOPA ePilot

In This Issue:

VOLUME 11, ISSUE 51 — December 23, 2011

Doing the math
Applications open for 2012 scholarships
Plane Spotter: Piper Tomahawk
Final Exam: Defining ‘category’


Safety >>

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect >>


AOPA Live >>

Sponsored by:

Training Tips

Doing the math

Training TipNot all flight planning has to be done hunched over graphs or by punching variables into a flight computer. Memorizing some make-or-break numbers can tell you at a glance whether you can launch on a flight as planned, subject to other considerations.

One such number is your aircraft’s useful load—the weight of the occupants, baggage, usable fuel, and drainable oil. It’s “the basic empty weight subtracted from the maximum allowable gross weight.”

Look up the useful load in your aircraft’s weight-and-balance documentation; the information is required to be available in the cockpit. Remember that your useful load data may differ markedly from generic information provided in an off-the-shelf pilot’s operating handbook (POH) for your make and model aircraft. Use only the specifically calculated information for your aircraft! (And if you find yourself wondering just how much weight and balance matters, see the Air Safety Institute’s Essential Aerodynamics course for a practical exercise.)

Knowing the useful load at the start of your flight planning can tell you right away whether a particular load is excessive for the flight. Suppose your two-seat Cessna 152 trainer has a useful load of 490 pounds. Full fuel, consisting of 24.5 usable gallons, weighs in at 147 pounds (100 low-lead avgas weighs six pounds a gallon). Now you have just 343 pounds available for people and baggage.

Can the two occupants of your aircraft, at their weights—again, not generic weights from the POH—each bring along a well-packed suitcase?

Crunch the numbers. If the basic answer is “affirmative,” also check for any baggage-compartment weight restriction.

Still good? Go ahead and perform a complete weight-and-balance calculation, including computation of the center of gravity location to ensure that the load will remain within approved limits.

What if the answer is negative and the useful load has been exceeded? Now you must plan to lighten the load.

That could mean departing with less-than-full fuel, and adding a fuel stop to your planned route. If that’s the decision, give the flight school an early heads-up; many have a policy of keeping their aircraft fuel tanks topped off. Before departure with partial fuel, check carefully for water that may have condensed in the fuel tanks.

Safe piloting practices also demand that you assume a high fuel burn as a margin of error in your planning, and that you have an accurate way to measure the partial fuel loads with which you will take off.

ATP’s Fast Track Airline Career Pilot Program

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Flight Training News

Spring training: Applications open for 2012 scholarships

AOPA is accepting applications for three $5,000 flight training scholarships to be awarded in the spring at the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo. Student pilots working toward a sport, recreational, or private pilot certificate may apply online for the AOPA Flight Training Scholarship, Erral Lea Plymate Memorial Scholarship, and Jeppesen Flight Training Scholarship through Feb. 10. Read more >>

LSA designed for flight school market

U.S. Sport Aircraft, Fort Pierce, Fla., said it will sell a variant of the Czech-built SportCruiser light sport aircraft designed for the flight school market. The SportCruiser Classic will have the same handling characteristics and canopy as the SportCruiser, but it will have analog instruments in the panel. The avionics package includes a Garmin SL40 communication radio, Garmin aera 500 GPS, and Garmin GTX 327 transponder. The introductory price is $119,500.

Chat with the ‘Flight Training’ editors Jan. 4

Join Flight Training editors Ian Twombly and Jill Tallman on Jan. 4 for the very first live Flight Training Facebook chat of 2012. Bring your flight training questions; talk about the current issue of the magazine; or share your success stories. The chat will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern (noon to 1 p.m. Pacific). Log on to the Flight Training Facebook page and click the Chat link on the left of the page.

Aspen Glass 2K Savings.

Instantly save more than $2000 on Evolution 1500 or 2000 system purchases made before Dec 31. Aspen glass increases situational awareness and reduces pilot workload. Features include: built-in system redundancy, SV, traffic/weather, and seamless integration with your existing radio, nav, and autopilot. Click for details.

Be a better communicator when talking to ATC

Communicating effectively with ATC is one of the hardest skills new pilots must learn, and there’s no getting around the fact that the more you do it, the better you become. But most aviation textbooks don’t teach these communication skills. Take the safety quiz on ATC procedures from the Air Safety Institute and help get yourself up to speed when it comes to some of the more nuanced techniques of working with controllers.

SunState Aviation building new facility

SunState Aviation at Kissimmee Gateway Airport in Orlando, Fla., has begun construction of a new 16,000-square-foot building. It will feature an expanded hangar for aircraft maintenance as well as larger classrooms, a simulator room, and an FAA testing center. A sandwich shop, pilot supply shop, and observation decks are planned. A grand opening is planned for fall 2012. SunState specializes in accelerated flight training for the sport and private pilot certificates as well as instrument, commercial, ATP, multiengine, and helicopter flight training.

Your IFR rating in 10 days at your location … IFR finish-up in as little as 3 days!

Professional teachers, specialized curriculum. IFR specialists for 30+ years. Whether flying G1000, Avidyne Entegra, Aspen, Cirrus Perspective or analog instruments, our instructors have the experience. Put “Instrument Rated” on your calendar NOW. 800-435-9437. Already Rated, but rusty? Our IFR Safety Course will get you current and make you a safer pilot.

Training Resources

Many people want to learn to fly but aren’t sure if they can progress through the requirements of the private pilot certificate. If that’s your situation, don’t forget you have options. You can earn a recreational pilot certificate or a sport pilot certificate. Both require fewer hours of training than a private pilot certificate (which translates to fewer dollars spent), but they also pose limitations on the type of flying you can do and the aircraft you can fly. For more information, see AOPA’s Guide to Learning to Fly.


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.

FREE Video Tip! — Courses for Beginner to Pro!

Click for a Free Video Training Tip and find a course to achieve your next goal, or to make your flying safer and more rewarding. Not sure? Call us at 800-854-1001 and talk to one of our pilot training advisors.


How to intercept a VOR radial

How to intercept a VOR radial It may seem slightly antiquated to talk about VORs, but the skill is useful if you need to intercept any course. If you fly an aircraft equipped with VORs, the better your understanding of VOR navigation, the easier time you will have during instrument training. Fly along with Flight Training Deputy Editor Ian Twombly in a Redbird Flight Simulations simulator configured as a Cessna 182 with Garmin G1000 avionics as he shows you how to intercept the 095 radial from the Lancaster, Pa., VOR. Watch AOPA Live® >>

Career Pilot

Bankruptcy to accelerate American fleet changes

AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines and American Eagle that voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization Nov. 29, has announced to lenders and aircraft lessors that it is accelerating its fleet upgrade plan, using the bankruptcy process to reject some leases and renegotiate payment rates for others. The company said that some aircraft leases will be rejected soon, while others may be rejected later. In addition, to conserve liquidity it plans to make payments when due of aircraft rent and mortgage principal and interest only on certain aircraft in the fleet. The airline recently announced a significant order for Airbus and Boeing narrow-body aircraft.

Pinnacle seeks to modify contracts, agreements

Pinnacle Airlines Corp. announced Dec. 8 that it has commenced a comprehensive program to reduce short- and long-term costs and enhance liquidity. The airline plans to seek modifications to its agreements with its mainline airline partners, equipment lessors, debt holders, real property lessors, and vendors, as well as to work with its pilots and other employees (both union and nonunion) to reduce labor costs. Pinnacle, with 7,800 employees, is the parent company of Pinnacle Airlines Inc., Mesaba Aviation Inc., and Colgan Air Inc.; it operates 279 aircraft on more than 1,540 daily flights for Delta Connection, United Express, and US Airways Express.

Plane Spotter

Piper Tomahawk: T-tail trainer

If it has two seats, low wings, a T-tail, and a bubble canopy, you are probably looking at the trainer that many from the “other half” used when learning to fly: a Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk. Powered by a Lycoming 0-235-L2C 112-horsepower engine, this aircraft provides a different experience from the similar-sized Cessna 152 used by students in the high-wing branch of the training family. The Tomahawk’s characteristic feel and handling come from lofty position of the elevators, which give a different (delayed) responsiveness on takeoff and at low airspeeds.

Training Products

Sporty’s So You Want to Fly Helicopters app

If you’ve been thinking about trying the rotary-wing side of aviation, Sporty’s app, So You Want to Fly Helicopters, is designed to prepare you. The app includes more than 90 minutes of 3-D animations and in-flight video, plus text of the FAA Rotorcraft Flying Handbook, the Helicopter Practical Test Standards, two advisory circulars, and a 30-question review quiz. Fourteen individual video segments show a Robinson R22 and R44, Schweizer 269, and Bell 206 JetRanger. The app sells for $69.99.


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.

Member Benefits

Save up to $50 on a Hertz rental

Save up to $10 per day, up to $50 on a daily, weekly, or weekend rental on your reservation of an economy through full-size car, or small SUV. This offer is valid for vehicle pickup through Feb. 11, 2012, at the airport. Save on your next car rental and support general aviation. See the website.


The best and worst of 2011

What were the highs and lows for the flight training industry in the past 12 months? Flight Training Associate Editor Jill Tallman shares her top five picks for best and worst, and invites you to post your nominations in this week’s Flight Training blog. Read more >>

It’s a drag to find a rag … inside the cowling

CFI Jason Miller explains another way to look at a preflight—your chance to look for the reasons you shouldn’t go flying—in the Let’s Go Flying blog.

Introducing, the best pilot headset ever from Bose.

NEW Bose A20™ Aviation Headset
The A20® Aviation Headset provides significantly greater noise reduction than currently available. It also features an improved level of comfort, clear audio, Bluetooth® connectivity, auxiliary audio input and priority switching. Learn more >

AOPA Career Opportunities

Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a senior government analyst, director of corporate finance, manager of flight training programs, online product manager, AOPA Live producer/videojournalist, associate editor–Web/ ePilot, and aviation technical specialist. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.


Picture Perfect

AOPA’s online photo gallery allows you to upload your own aviation photography as well as view, rate, and comment on others’ photos. Your favorite aviation images from AOPA Pilot are still available online through this new gallery. Take a look, and submit your own photos!

Picture Perfect

Facebook Become a fan

RSS feed Subscribe to the RSS feed


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.

To include an event or to search all events in the calendar, visit AOPA Online. For airport details, including FBO fuel prices, see AOPA Airports.

Final Exam

Question: I've heard the term “category” used to describe both airplanes and pilot ratings, and I'm confused about which is correct. Could you give me a definition of “category”?


Answer: Actually, "category" is correctly used in the context of both aircraft and airmen, though with different meanings for each. When referring to airmen certification (FAR 61.5), category means a broad classification of aircraft—for instance, airplane, rotorcraft, glider, lighter-than-air, or powered lift. A pilot could be certified for "airplane single-engine land," with "airplane" being the category of aircraft. When describing aircraft certification, category refers to the way aircraft are grouped, based on operating limitations or intended use. For instance, aircraft are certified in these categories: transport, normal, utility, acrobatic, limited, restricted, or provisional.


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.

Serious Savings on Garmin Avionics Upgrades

There’s never been a better time to overhaul your plane’s avionics. Get up to $6,500 cash back by purchasing select flight displays, traffic systems and GTN avionics by January 31. Visit our promotions page to learn more.

Instrument Tip

IFR Fix: A loss for words

Here you are in the soup, flying cleared as filed most of the way. That’s unusual in this busy airspace corridor. It must be because the traffic is light today. In fact, it’s been quite awhile since anybody has spoken on the frequency. “Center, radio check?” Then you see the popped circuit breaker. A lost com isn’t a real emergency—or is it? How long has it been since you reviewed the procedures? Read more >>

Chart challenge: The ILS approach

Chart challenge: The ILS approach Whether you’re working on an instrument rating or have recently joined the ranks of instrument-rated pilots, you’ll be flying ILS approaches, which can be pretty straightforward once you master the procedure. But what happens when an approach component is not working, or onboard navigation equipment malfunctions? Do you know how to interpret the chart’s instructions correctly? The Air Safety Institute’s IFR Chart Challenge: ILS Approach is one in a series of mini-courses that have you brief an approach and test your knowledge of how to fly it. Get started with the KBFL ILS Runway 30R approach.


Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics

Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars

Jan. 7 and 8

Baltimore, Md.

Ypsilanti, Mich.

Portland, Ore.

San Antonio, Texas

Jan. 14 and 15

Long Beach, Calif.

Jackson, Miss.

Charlotte, N.C.

Jan. 21 and 22

San Jose, Calif.

Bellevue, Wash.

Jan. 28 and 29

Sevierville, Tenn.


For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

Can’t make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.

Jan. 9

Mesa, Ariz.

Reno, Nev.



Jan. 10

Tucson, Ariz.

Sacramento, Calif.

Jan. 11

Milpitas, Calif.

El Paso, Texas

Jan. 12

Santa Rosa, Calif.

Albuquerque, N.M.


Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

AOPA ePilot Team

ePilot Flight Training Editor:
Jill W. Tallman

ePilot Editor:
Sarah Brown

Contributors: Alyssa Miller
Jim Moore
Warren Morningstar
Alton K. Marsh

Dave Hirschman
Tom Horne
Ian J. Twombly
Dan Namowitz

Production Team: Melissa Whitehouse
Siobhan Byrne
Lezlie Ramsey
William Rockenbaugh
Mitch Mitchell

Advertise in ePilot:
East: Mike Vodarsik, 732/946-0130
Central: Brian Curpier, 607/547-2591
Central: Gary Brennan, 607/547-2591
West: Zane Lewis, 214/789-6094

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