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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.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Do you need the answer to a question that has come up between flight lessons? Is there a question you’re not comfortable asking your CFI? Regardless of where you are in the adventure of learning to fly, AOPA staff pilot/instructors are standing by to answer your questions. Submit a question through the Flight Training website, or speak to a Pilot Information Center staff member directly by calling 800/USA-AOPA weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time.
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.
The FAA has published a final rule that permits concurrent applications for a private pilot certificate and instrument rating, and allows counting dual cross-country instructional flight time toward eligibility requirements for concurrent training. It takes effect Oct. 31. Read more >>
The first day of autumn is a scant two weeks away, and that means it’s going to start getting dark earlier—so much earlier, in fact, that pilots whose mental clocks haven’t caught up often find themselves making unintentional night landings. Don’t be caught unprepared: Now is a great time to review the Air Safety Institute’s Night VFR Safety Spotlight, which offers plenty of important night flying resources in one convenient place.
Student pilot’s flying anthem soars
Ansel Brown, a country singer-songwriter whose wife, Lisa, is teaching him how to fly, has written an ode to the sights and emotions that pilots experience. The song, “When You Fly,” was performed at the final NASA shuttle launch and also for pilots at this year’s EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. Read more >>
Aerial chase nabs burglary suspects
David Hudson was giving two friends a ride in a Cessna 172 when one of the friends asked if they could fly over his house. When they did, the three saw something that didn’t look right: a white pickup truck and men apparently carrying items out of the friend’s home. Read more >>
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 available only 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.
9/11 plotters said to be disrespectful, inattentive
As the world contemplates the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former owner of the Florida flight school that trained two of the plotters recalled the student pilots. Rudi Dekkers told Voice of America that he saw Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi every day for six months. The two were much like the school’s other foreign students, he said, except that they were disrespectful and inattentive. When they were warned that they might be expelled, their attitudes improved. Dekkers has written a book about his experiences following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Sporty’s Pilot Shop has developed an app for AOPA Aviation Summit, to be held Sept. 22 through 24 in Hartford, Conn. The official AOPA Summit App is available at no charge and includes everything attendees need, from maps and guides to schedules. Read more >>
Take the Air Safety Institute’s safety quiz for a spin
Your CFI has introduced you to the “dreaded” stall series. One thing you’re sure of: You’d never practice them on your own. Sounds familiar? Although it’s good to be careful, it’s better to take steps toward really understanding stalls and spins and how to recover from them. It will help alleviate any concerns, even fear, you may have. To get started, take the Air Safety Institute’s safety quiz on stalls and spins; then find a qualified instructor to demonstrate this newly acquired knowledge. The quiz was sponsored by the AOPA Insurance Agency. Take the quiz >>
AOPA holiday ornament features 1940 Waco
It may still be too early for some to hear the faint sound of jingle bells starting to ring, but not here at AOPA. We’re pleased to announce that 2011’s holiday ornament is a beauty! The second in our line of commemorative holiday ornaments features an aircraft that embodies the spirit of aviation, a beautiful 1940 Waco. The Waco, offering its nostalgic glimpse of aviation times gone by, is a selection that is certain to inspire you to share your most cherished aviation memories. The ornament is available at the AOPA Store. Every purchase made at the AOPA Store benefits AOPA’s work preserving and protecting your right to fly.
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 diodes (LEDs) 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.
Question: I am a private pilot and Cessna 172 owner. 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? 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.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Chip Wright was checking the weather in anticipation of an airline flight, and AOPA Associate Editor Jill Tallman was a student pilot looking forward to some solo time. Wright and Tallman reflect on how the terrorist attacks forever changed the aviation landscape 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 associate editor–Web, associate editor–Web/ ePilot, production assistant–Web, 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