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Custom content for the Sept. 9, 2011, issue of 'AOPA ePilot' newsletterCustom content for the Sept. 9, 2011, issue of 'AOPA ePilot' newsletter

The following stories from the Sept. 9, 2011, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online

— My ePilot — Helicopter Interest —

Whirly-Girls scholarship applications due Oct. 1

Whirly-Girls International, an organization dedicated to advancing women in helicopter aviation, is accepting applications for its 2012 scholarships until Oct. 1. Most scholarships, which range from a turbine transition course to mountain flying instruction, are only available to active members, but the Whirly-Girls Helicopter Add-On Flight Training Scholarship will assist a certificated female pilot who does not have a helicopter rating in earning a helicopter add-on. Further details are available online.

training tips

Don’t be a wheel waggler

One of the first insights achieved by a new student pilot when taxiing for that first flight lesson is that shape is not the only difference between an aircraft’s control yoke, or stick, and an automobile’s steering wheel.

The realization that there is no connection—literally—between the control yoke and the wheels may be the single most important mental adjustment the student pilot makes to learning aircraft control. That’s what your instructor means when he or she repeatedly proclaims, “That’s not a steering wheel!”

Having dispelled that idea, the training can move on to proper taxi technique—whether it employs nosewheel steering, differential braking, or both.

But habits die hard, and rare is the pilot whose brain hasn’t been profoundly stamped with the “keep your hands on the wheel” needs of auto driving. Many student pilots revert to a nervous waggling of the control yoke when distracted or overloaded. That not only spoils attempts at flying maneuvers, but can cause fatigue or airsickness from the adverse yaw resulting from the unconscious—and therefore uncoordinated—control-yoke motions.

Here are two tips to help you avoid being a wheel waggler. One is to start every training flight with some warm-up coordination exercises: Gently bank the wings left and right while using rudder to counter adverse yaw and maintain your heading. Drag produced by the aileron inputs will yaw the aircraft off your heading unless your rudder pressures compensate for the effect. Don’t be timid—keep the nose pointed straight ahead! You’ll feel the difference between coordinated flight and the slip-skid of adverse yaw. Try the drill at normal airspeeds and in slow flight.

After drills, the other tip is to always verify that you can fly your aircraft hands-off after you have completed your level-off and trimmed for cruise flight. Then don’t touch the yoke again without a good reason.

Ground review can help you break your waggling ways. Review aircraft stability in your training materials.

Before your next training flight, ask your instructor to affix a yaw string to the windscreen. This is a simple, effective device that keeps glider pilots on the straight and narrow path. “It apparently works well in some airplanes but not in all,” writes Barry Schiff in “Proficient Pilot: Flat-footed flying.” “It depends on how propwash affects airflow about the windshield. (It works best on airplanes with pusher engines.) It is worth trying on any airplane, however, because there is so little to lose and so much to gain.”

Break the waggling habit and enjoy immediate benefits of smooth flight, less fatigue, and fewer heading and altitude corrections.

training products

LED pilot’s cap from Sporty’s

With shorter days on the march, Sporty’s LED pilot’s cap might come in handy on a night flight. The cap has red and white light-emitting diode (LED) lights built in the brim. One button operates two levels of white light, while another operates two red LEDs. It sells for $24.95; custom embroidery is available for an additional $9.95. Order online or call 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. 

final exam


Question: I am a private pilot and owner of a Cessna 172. Can I log pilot-in-command time without a current medical while flying my airplane as long as a friend of mine who is rated in the airplane and has a current medical comes with me?


Answer: Yes, you certainly can. The FAA considers logging pilot-in-command time and acting as pilot in command as two separate issues. In your case, FAR Part 61.51(e) (i) answers the question. You may log pilot-in-command time because you are “the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft for which the pilot is rated.” You would not be able to act as PIC because in order to do that you would need a current medical. Your friend will have to assume that responsibility. It might also be advisable to contact your insurance company to determine whether your coverage would be affected by not having a current medical. For more on logbooks and logging time, read AOPA’s subject report.


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.

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