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Knowing the ‘why’
Summer is a great time to make a run at completing your flight training program. Although summer flying is often comfortable and generally free of winter’s inconveniences, don’t become casual about your preparation.
Like the cool seasons, spring and summer have their special concerns. For example, why should you give the cowling and the fuel sample extra special attention during preflight inspections?
As any bird can tell you, a trainer that is tied down on an airport ramp is an irresistible nesting place—especially if the aircraft does not have cowl plugs installed. Atop the engine or inside the tailcone are favorite nest sites. One telltale sign is some blades of grass protruding from entry points.
Give your fuel sample the attention it deserves because ramp-pelting downpours from thunderstorms can penetrate leaky or improperly closed fuel caps and contaminate your fuel.
During local summer flights, you have probably noticed that your trainer’s takeoff and climb performance is less peppy than it was weeks earlier. Acceleration for takeoff doesn’t seem as brisk, and climbing to traffic pattern or cruise altitude takes longer.
If you can state a good explanation, you have demonstrated a grasp of the aerodynamic concept of density altitude. Accident reports regularly demonstrate that many pilots don’t grasp the idea or appreciate its potential to cause trouble—an especially nasty trap when taking off from airports where operations during cooler weather pose no difficulties. Learn from their mistakes and avoid their miscalculations.
Your weather briefing promises cloudless skies and calm winds, so you are surprised to discover that today’s visibility is poorer than the unrestricted value you expected.
In stable air masses—those with little vertical movement of air— haze can form and reduce visibility over extensive areas. Sometimes you may be able to top the layer, but remember to be sure that you are flying with visual reference to the surface. With forest fires burning over large portions of western states, smoke can affect visibility, sometimes a great distance away from the source fires.
Restricted visibility also holds the threat of hidden embedded weather. Another summer tip is to routinely monitor weather broadcasts for hidden hazards and be ready with a plan of action, just in case.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Extra-careful preflight planning is required for night flying. The challenges are greater—such as organizing the cockpit (which includes making sure you have flashlights and plenty of fresh batteries to power them), choosing checkpoints, and pondering emergency situations—but so are the freedoms. The special skills of night flying can only be acquired and maintained by taking frequent night flights. See the October 2009 Flight Training and the Air Safety Institute’s Safety Spotlight on VFR night flying for more information.
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.
Headset manufacturer Sennheiser has launched a new campaign, “Live Your Dream,” aimed at motivating people with a passion for flying to begin flight training. The company is working in conjunction with MyTransponder, a social media site aimed at pilots. Sennheiser will offer a series of $1,000 scholarships for training, and applications can be submitted on the MyTransponder site beginning July 1. Applicants must describe the origin of their passion for flight, and why they want to pursue their dream and become a pilot. For complete information, see the website.
What’s in your fuel tanks?
Pilots learn early in their training to check for fuel quantity, color, and contamination during their preflight. But is that really enough? The wrong type of fuel in your tanks can have disastrous results, and may go unnoticed before you even crank the engine. This safety brief on misfueling from the Air Safety Institute discusses how you can help avoid this type of fuel mismanagement accident.
The Department of Education has published a final rule that may affect financial aid access for students who are pursuing aviation education through a college or academy, according to the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI). The rule establishes student-loan debt thresholds that take into consideration debt-to-potential-income and repayment-rate measures that each program will need to meet, NAFI explained June 15 in its eMentor newsletter. Programs that fail to meet these thresholds could lose eligibility for federal funds under Title IV-High Education Act. “It’s unclear exactly how this will affect institutions providing professional pilot training that’s typically financed through federal student loans,” NAFI said.
EMU flight instructor wins scholarship
Alyssa Novak, a flight instructor at Eastern Michigan University’s Eagle Flight Center, has won a Frank P. Macartney Foundation scholarship for Cessna Citation II training. Novak, a 2011 graduate of Eastern Michigan University, received the award from Aerodynamics Inc. of Waterford, Mich., in conjunction with Flight Safety International of Toledo, Ohio. She receives a two-week training program valued at $15,000.
Savings made easy with the AOPA Car Rental Discount Program
If you’re renting a car from Alamo, Avis, Enterprise, or Hertz, be sure to use your AOPA discount code to save up to 25 percent. With money-saving coupons such as free rental days and upgrades you can’t go wrong. Take advantage of this members-only benefit and you could see your AOPA membership pay for itself. To ensure you’re receiving the AOPA car rental discount, make your reservation directly through the AOPA website. Can’t remember the discount code? No problem. The code is pre-filled for you when you reserve your car through the links provided.
When you hear the word “pneumatics,” you may be more likely to think of balloons and bicycle pumps than airplanes—but in fact, pneumatic systems are critical components of many aircraft. They drive gyroscopic flight instruments and pneumatic de-icing systems, and smart pilots have at least a passing familiarity with how they work and (more importantly) what happens when they don’t. To that end, the Air Safety Institute’s Pneumatic Systems online course is a great way to get the need-to-know facts. Take the course >>
Pilot Training Solutions written test preparation
Pilot Training Solutions recently introduced a new approach to studying for the private, instrument, and commercial knowledge exams. The company uses DVDs that are aimed directly at the knowledge exam, rather than the entire pilot course. Each sells for $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.
Question: My friend hit a bird while flying the other day and was wondering if it was something he should report. How common are bird strikes, and what should I do if I have one?
Answer: The number of bird strike reports has increased, but many collisions still go unreported; one estimate claims 60 percent of bird strikes never find their way to the FAA database. If that estimate is accurate, more than 145,000 strikes have occurred since 1998. One of the best things you can do to avoid a bird strike is to try to stay away from areas where birds congregate. For example, city or county landfills often attract large flocks of birds. Also, be familiar with and avoid migratory bird routes. If you are involved in a bird strike, it is important to report it once you have landed safely. Fill out FAA Form 5200-7 Bird/Wildlife Strike Report (you can use an FAA-approved online version or download a paper version). If you see that you are flying toward a flock of birds, never try to descend and fly under them because birds usually dive. Climbing and turning away from them is the best option if you find yourself face to face with the natural aviators. For more on the topic read the Air Safety Institute Bird Strikes Safety Brief.
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.
What’s New Online
The knotty truth
What’s in a name? In the case of a knot, it’s more than you think. Aviation’s terms may seem strange and confusing at times, but often they have a logical origin. Learn more 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 an application support engineer, Dot Net developer, and electronic advertising manager. 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 Memphis, Tenn., July 9 and 10; Jacksonville, Fla., July 16 and 17; Newark, N.J., and Pittsburgh, Pa., July 23 and 24; and Atlanta, Ga., and Fort Worth, Texas, August 6 and 7. 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 Oshkosh, Wis., July 27 through 29; and Germantown, Tenn., Wichita, Kan., Fort Worth, Texas, and West Houston, Texas, Sept. 12.
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Editorial Team: ePilot Flight Training Editor : Jill W. Tallman | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton K. Marsh