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Appreciating angle of attack
The next time you hold a question-and-answer session with your flight instructor take time to double-check your understanding of one of the most basic aerodynamic concepts—angle of attack—and its associated terms. Then sketch or visualize your training airplane in various flight conditions, and see if you are correctly interpreting its angle of attack in each instance.
You will sharpen your awareness, catch any misconception—and perhaps avoid a future mishap, as pervasive misconceptions of angle of attack often translate into piloting errors.
You also will be doing your flight instructor a service. That’s because instructors must review this important subject when they attend refresher clinics to renew their instructor certification.
Creating your own graphic to illustrate your aircraft’s angle of attack in flight scenarios ensures that you have proceeded beyond a rote definition, and can avoid allowing the angle of attack to become excessive in flight.
You know that angle of attack is the angle between the relative wind and a theoretical line from the leading edge to the trailing edge of the wing, the chord. Exceeding the wing’s critical angle of attack disrupts airflow and causes an aerodynamic stall; recovery is made by lowering the angle of attack, which allows the air to flow smoothly again and lets the wing once again produce lift.
A hint about visualizing or drawing relative wind on your diagram: Remember that relative wind flows parallel and opposite to your aircraft’s flight path. For example, on a landing, as you flare for touchdown, that flight path is downward but the pitch attitude of the aircraft may be so high as to obscure your view forward. Unlike a climbing or descending aircraft, only an aircraft in level flight has a relative wind parallel to the horizon. In that case the angle of attack depends on the airspeed being flown, that is, the pitch attitude required to maintain level flight.
Are there instruments that measure angle of attack? Yes, but they generally are not found in general aviation aircraft. To see some, and to hear an expert panel field questions about angle of attack, see this Air Safety Institute Safety Spotlight on aerodynamics as a component of your subject review.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Happy Thanksgiving! Once the leftovers have been put away and football games enjoyed, take some time over the holiday weekend to savor your flight training progress. Whether you’re a pre-solo student unlocking the mystery of flight, a post-solo student prepping for the checkride, or a brand-new pilot, the Flight Training website has lots of information for you to digest—along with that turkey. Browse back issues of the magazine, review our blog, and find training-specific content to help you be the best pilot possible.
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.
A new Government Accountability Office report on initial pilot training recommends that the FAA develop ways to measure how well it performs oversight and inspection of flight training institutions and examiners. The 70-page report examined the role initial pilot training and education may have played in pilot performance. Read more >>
Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick, Md., will vie to defend its title next year as most female-friendly airport in the United States. On March 10, local pilots will take aloft as many girls and women as possible to introduce them to aviation. Organizer Victoria Neuville said the event will feature tethered hot-air balloon rides as well as flights in general aviation airplanes. Read more >>
For pilots in much of the country, the coming of winter brings special challenges. From cold-soaked engines to slick runways, wing-bending snow banks, and ice-laden clouds, there are plenty of ways to get in trouble (or cost yourself some serious cash). Are you ready for the complications of cold weather? Find out by taking this week’s Air Safety Institute safety quiz, sponsored by the AOPA Insurance Agency. Take the quiz >>
Bridgewater State flight program going strong
The aviation science program at Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, Mass., may be able to increase enrollment by 50 percent this year, school officials said. The program, which had been operated by Delta Connection Academy from 2002 to 2007, was taken back in house and the university opened a new flight training center in 2009 at New Bedford Regional Airport. FAA New England Deputy Regional Administrator Ann C. Mollica said the university is looking at developing an aviation certification program for vocational school students, according to SouthCoastToday.com.
When the route you file isn’t the route you get
A well-executed IFR flight is a collaboration between you and ATC. Sometimes, things don't always go the way you'd like. This is especially true when it comes to filing a specific IFR route. Listen to the latest episode of Ask ATC as an air traffic controller explains why it's important that you and ATC are on the same page when it comes to filing, and flying, your IFR route.
AOPA makes holiday shopping easy, affordable
This holiday season, shop from the comfort of your own home and save money through the AOPA Lifestyles Member Discounts program, a free AOPA-members-only benefit. AOPA Lifestyles Member Discounts offers across-the-board discounts from leading aviation and nonaviation companies. Current offers include a $10 gift card from Aircraft Spruce, exclusive savings on a mission flight gear bag from Sporty’s Pilot Shop, a free Learning Guide from American Flyers ($39 value) to help pass a knowledge or flight test, and $10 off your first purchase of $100 or more at PilotMall. Read more >>
Earn cash, merchandise with AOPA’s WorldPoints Rewards credit card
With some credit card rewards programs, the number of points needed to earn merchandise is laughable. You’ve gathered 20,000 points, and you figure that should be enough to claim some sort of reward. That’s when you find out you need 80,000 points for a baseball cap. With AOPA’s WorldPoints Credit Card, rewards start as low as 2,500 points. When you earn one point for each dollar spent, and double points at many vendors, including leading aviation companies and FBOs, your points add up quickly. Read more >>
Cessna Flight Gear bag from Sporty’s
The Cessna Flight Gear bag can convert from a portfolio bag to a backpack. If you need to carry a few things, use it in portfolio mode, but if your trip requires you carry a weekend’s worth of gear, it becomes a backpack. The bag includes an iPad/tablet pocket, external pockets, padded shoulder straps, and a padded GPS pocket. It features the Cessna logo on the front. The bag sells for $99.95 and can be ordered online or by calling 800/776-7897 (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: Does a flight instructor have to be present for a person using a flight training device to log instrument time in satisfying recent instrument experience requirements?
Answer: Yes. According to FAR 61.51(g)(4), "A person can use time in a flight simulator, flight training device, or aviation training device for acquiring instrument aeronautical experience for a pilot certificate, rating, or instrument recency experience, provided an authorized instructor is present to observe that time and signs the person's logbook or training record to verify the time and the content of the training session." For more information on the use of flight training devices, read the subject report, Flight Training Devices and Desktop Simulators.
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.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a communications coordinator, manager of flight training programs, online product manager, AOPA Live producer/videojournalist, Web business analyst, associate editor–Web, associate editor–Web/ ePilot, 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 also can 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., Orlando, Fla., and Northbrook, Ill., Dec. 3 and 4; Baltimore, Md., Ypsilanti, Mich., Portland, Ore., and San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 7 and 8; Long Beach, Calif., Jackson, Miss., and Charlotte, N.C., Jan. 14 and 15; and San Jose, Calif., and Bellevue, Wash., Jan. 21 and 22. 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 Mesa, Ariz., and Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 5; Tucson, Ariz., and Daytona Beach, Fla., Dec. 6; Tampa, Fla., Timonium, Md., and Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 7; Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Dec. 8; Mesa, Ariz., and Reno, Nev., Jan. 9; Tucson, Ariz., and Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 10; Milpitas, Calif., and El Paso, Texas, Jan. 11; and Santa Rosa, Calif., and Albuquerque, N.M., Jan. 12.
Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Got news? Contact ePilot. Having difficulty using this service? Visit the ePilot Frequently Asked Questions now at AOPA Online or write to [email protected].
Editorial Team: ePilot Flight Training Editor : Jill W. Tallman | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton K. Marsh