There's nothing quite like the exhilaration of early-morning flying to get a routine weekday going.
Today there’s no trace of radiation fog as you walk up the line of tied-down airplanes. You note happily that all of them sit frost-free and ready for action for a change. Spring bursting forth only adds to the anticipation. The airport’s tranquil off-peak atmosphere is another plus as you preflight and get ready to log some flight time before work.
So, what’s the plan?
Getting out early on a cross-country might give you a chance to savor some turbulence-free flying for an hour or two before the sun begins to do its work, heating the landscape and sending up those inevitable columns of thermal turbulence. You’ll know when that process has begun because fair-weather cumulus clouds will start to appear, along with the bumps.
Pressed for time? Then pattern work or some slow flight might make a good morning’s solo syllabus. Warming up with a coordination exercise on your arrival in the practice area is a good way to get loose and feel relaxed. Remember to make clearing turns, and watch for other aircraft.
Save practicing ground reference maneuvers for a time when surface winds are blowing at least a little and you can work on wind correction technique. Those conditions may exist by the end of your flight.
One way to avoid rude surprises before morning flights is to call the FBO the day before you fly and ask to have your trainer ready and waiting. That means full fuel and oil, a clean windscreen, and easy access, if it is hangared. Is there a towbar handy if you need it?
With the songs of birds in your ears as you preflight, enjoy the music—but check carefully for signs that your trainer has been selected as a nesting site.
Speaking of nature, wildlife shares your enthusiasm for the peace and quiet of an early morning, so remember that although you may have beaten most pilots to the field, deer, geese, or gulls are another matter.
Can’t fly until later? A calm evening is the next best thing—but be on the safe side by carrying night-flight gear along, and then be ever watchful for fog forming when the temperature/dew point spread begins to close.
Most of all, enjoy.
Flight Training News
Aviators of the future are learning to fly at two Texas airports where for-sale signs once hung in the windows of struggling businesses. U.S. Aviation of Denton and Hondo, Texas, is on track to log 60,000 student flying hours based on first-quarter performance—a 15.3-percent increase from 2011. Read more >>
Florida Tech graduates first A320 pilots
Florida Institute of Technology announced April 10 that two students have completed a new advanced airline pilot flight course that enables them to fly the Airbus A320. The jet transition and commercial type rating courses are presented in conjunction with Aerostar Training Services of Orlando, Fla. Six other students have begun the courses, which enable students to use regular electives in a bachelor’s degree program to prepare for a career flying large transport jets. Florida Tech said no other college or university offers transport type ratings as part of an academic degree.
Taming a twin: Single-engine sensibility
Are you working on your multiengine rating or already enjoying the benefits of that extra power? Whatever the case, you’ve probably heard pilots talk of “double trouble” when referring to multiengine flying. Why? More power is excellent for that long cross-country, but it can also complicate matters for the uninitiated when one of those engines suddenly decides to quit. Take the newest Air Safety Institute safety quiz and find out what single-engine ops in a multiengine aircraft are all about.
Need more of a challenge? Head to the hills
Mountain flying doesn’t necessarily add to the challenges of aviation, but it certainly exacerbates them. All of the issues flatland pilots have to contend with—wind, weather, aircraft performance—are given extra special consideration when pilots are peering down over less-than-forgiving terrain. And veteran mountain flyers will tell you: It’s a lot different than flying in the lowlands. Learn what makes flying in the mountains so special, and challenging, in Air Safety Institute’s Mountain Flying online course.
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.
Terrafugia flying car production prototype
Can you imagine learning to fly a car with wings—or an airplane that you can drive on a road? Terrafugia is one step closer to making that a reality with the first flight of its production prototype, the Terrafugia Transition, in March. The “roadable aircraft”—Terrafugia doesn’t call it a “flying car”—will be sold as a light sport aircraft. It will have a useful load of 460 pounds and useable fuel of 23 gallons. Watch the prototype fold and unfold its wings and take off and land at an airport in New York. Watch AOPA Live® >>
AirTran gets OK for Midway-Cancun service
Southwest Airlines announced April 5 that its wholly owned subsidiary, AirTran Airways, received route authority from the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate new international flights between Chicago Midway International Airport and Cancun International Airport. AirTran will offer one daily nonstop flight between the two cities beginning on June 3, subject to Mexican government approval. With a current average of 246 daily departures from Chicago Midway, the combined AirTran/Southwest is the second largest carrier in the Chicago region. The two carriers currently operate nonstop service between Chicago Midway and 58 cities.
FltOps.com to hold regional pilot job fair
FltOps.com is holding a regional airline pilot job fair at the Hilton Palm Beach Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., on May 4. The job fair runs from 1 to 6 p.m.; registration begins at 12:30 p.m. For more information on the event, visit the FltOps website.
There aren’t many high-wing piston twins on the scene. One is sure to turn heads after touchdown. It may even remind you of something you saw in a museum or an airshow. Then it’s a Rockwell Aero Commander, a member of a family of aircraft including the 500S Shrike flown before awe-struck audiences by aviation legend Bob Hoover. His six-place aircraft N500RA resides in the collection of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. If the aircraft looks right, but sounds “wrong,” a turboprop Twin Commander may have come calling.
Kneeboard, FlightNotes from Powderpuff Pilot
Powderpuff Pilot has added two new products to its line of aviation supplies designed for women. A pink kneeboard designed by LC Flight Products sells for $21.95. FlightNotes, also designed by LC Flight Products, are 8-1/2 by 5 inches and are designed to fit in a kneeboard that has a clip. The top half of each page is blank; the bottom half is designed to record ATIS and flight plan information. A package of two pads is $5.95.
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.
AOPA Aviation Summit registration now open
From the return of the highly anticipated Parade of Planes, a Palm Springs exclusive, to resort parties and outdoor adventures, AOPA Aviation Summit in sunny Palm Springs, Calif., offers an experience like no other. New learning opportunities offer more than 100 hours of engaging education that uses hands-on demonstrations and practice activities to help you retain and recall the information when you need it most. This year, enjoy new events such as a companion lunch and a Touch and Go Breakfast with some of the most well-known names in aviation. Read more >>
How strong is your safety net?
Whether you are flying, driving, or hiking in the park, AOPA can help protect all that is important to you. The new AOPA Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) Group Insurance Plan has been expanded beyond the cockpit to provide you coverage without any increase in cost. Plus, you'll receive added benefits to help pay tuition, child care, and more. Benefits cover general aviation pilots of all levels of flying, even student pilots. Read more >>
How we get the shots: May 2012 cover
Is that Piper Cherokee really in the middle of a field? Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman shares the secrets behind the cover of the May Flight Training. Also in this week’s Flight Training blog, Chip Wright discusses a safety program called ASAP that lets Part 121 air carriers self-report transgressions in the same fashion as NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System.
Using an old concept with new twists to increase rentals
OpenAirplane, a new concept in aircraft rentals, is intended to make the checkout process easier for fixed-base operators and pilots. Rod Rakic shares the details in the latest Learning Curve blog.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a manager–Pilot Information Center, vice president–Center to Advance the Pilot Community, aviation technical writer, vice president of strategy and philanthropic operations, director of accounting, program manager–products, project manager of online products, director of new market development, and associate editor–Web/ ePilot. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
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