Winds are light and there's a thin, high overcast. Thanks to an unexpected break from work, you have a chance to get out and fly.
A quick check of the local weather forecast promises tranquil conditions and at least six miles of visibility until late afternoon—and your trainer is available at 2 p.m.
The forecast for the period of your flight contained one item that it might be wise to double check, so you resolve to do that after you arrive at the airport to take advantage of this serendipitous opportunity to get in some practice. Then, you promise yourself, you will check the meaning of the four-letter abbreviation that follows the visibility in this section of the serene terminal aerodrome forecast: “19007KT P6SM VCSH OVC100.”
Wait a minute—let’s not be hasty. A better plan is to check the meaning of VCSH now, and then follow through with a closer study of the big weather picture.
What you would see if you took your time to make a thorough study of the weather might make you more wary of that peaceful sky. Starting at 4 p.m., this is what you can expect: “16007KT 2SM -RA BR SCT005 OVC012 PROB30 2700/2704 1SM TSRA BR BKN005CB.”
That would explain the possible rain showers in the vicinity of the TAF. Now go deeper and find out why that stormy weather is in the forecast.
Turns out that a warm front is approaching; the synopsis of the area forecast is calling for multiple cloud layers and widely scattered thunderstorms, possibly severe, with cumulonimbus cloud tops to Flight Level 450.
Surprised? Unlike cold fronts that are often preceded by tumultuous weather and may arrive amid great meteorological drama, warm fronts tend to take a stealthier approach, riding up over colder, denser air and gradually producing reduced visibility, low ceilings, and precipitation.
Cutting the timing of your VFR flight too close to the front's arrival might expose you to marginal weather, or worse. That’s why getting a full picture of the weather, and allowing a generous interval of time to complete your flight before conditions are expected to deteriorate, is a must—even for that local flight.
Know those abbreviations! If an area forecast’s categorical outlook says “OTLK…VFR TSRA.02Z MVFR CIG TSRA BR,” it may still be a while before you can fly.
Flight Training News
AOPA is introducing AOPA AV8RS, a new form of membership available free to young people ages 13 to 18. Youth membership benefits include a digital subscription to Flight Training magazine, dedicated content at www.aopa.org/av8rs, chances to win flight training scholarships, and opportunities to connect with other AOPA AV8RS across the country. Read more >>
Able Flight honors six new pilots at AirVenture
The nonprofit Able Flight has trained a record eight pilots in 2012, and six of them were on hand at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., to receive their pilot wings. The six completed two months of intensive training at Purdue University and are now sport pilots. They are Jason Jernigan of Florida, Wesley Major of Delaware, Devon Radloff of Wisconsin, Tyrell Rhodes of Illinois, Steven Scott of California, and Matt Sponaugle of West Virginia. The six new pilots and the Able Flight program will be featured in the October 2012 Flight Training.
King Schools offers free private, instrument syllabi
King Schools Inc. announced on July 26 that it is making available a syllabus for both private and instrument training free of charge. The syllabi are suitable for training under Part 61 as well as Part 141 of the federal aviation regulations. Targeted at independent flight instructors and their clients, the syllabi include guidance on incorporating King Schools instructional courses into the program. For more information, see the website.
August Flight Training chat will focus on airline flying
Bring your career questions to the August Flight Training chat at 3 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, Aug. 7. Flight Training Contributing Editor Pete Bedell will share his insights as a first officer for a major airline. To participate in the chat, log on to the Flight Training Facebook page and click on the chat link. You can also sign up for an email reminder of the upcoming chat or view transcripts of previous chats.
Eagle Flights program kicks off at AirVenture
Experimental Aircraft Association President Rod Hightower took off from Wittman Regional Airport July 24 carrying the first passenger in a program designed to introduce more adults to aviation. Hightower took longtime Texas educator Diane Thornton for a flight over the Oshkosh, Wis., area in his T-6 Texan for the association's first Eagle Flight. The program, announced at AirVenture 2011, is intended to build from the success of the Young Eagles program, through which more than 1.7 million young people have received free flights from EAA members. Read more >>
Fuel for thought
Unless you fly a glider, you’ll need to feed your aircraft’s engine fuel—from startup to shutdown. But it’s not just important to provide the engine fuel; it’s also critical to pump the correct grade. Learn how to avoid problems associated with misfueling and recognize the situations that can lead to a misfueling scenario with the Air Safety Institute’s Misfueling safety brief.
Do you give your instructor a blank look when the topic of airspace is broached in ground school? It may be time to review the rules of the sky with the Air Safety Institute’s Know Before You Go: Navigating Today’s Airspace online course. Bolster your chart knowledge with tips, animations, and interactive quizzes that will help keep you safe and alert. Download the Air Safety Institute’s Airspace Flash Cards as a handy companion on the go. Course completion qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program.
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.
AOPA Live This Week: AirVenture wrap
Take a flight in the Goodyear blimp, enjoy fireworks over Oshkosh, Wis., learn how AOPA is reaching out to engage teenagers in aviation, and find out what’s being done to bring fairness back to pilots. All this and more on AOPA Live This Week, Aug. 2.
GA Serves America: Feeding the Delta
Arkansas grows more rice than any other state in the nation—but they couldn’t do it without general aviation. Farmers in the Mississippi Delta have counted on the Stokes Flying Service for decades. In this video that accompanies Senior Editor Dave Hirschman’s AOPA Pilot article, you’ll meet Dennie Stokes and learn how crop dusting has changed since the early days. Stokes’ Turboprop Thrush has a computerized spray system so precise that a pilot can put drops of herbicide and fertilizer within a two-foot area. Watch the video >>
Delta to shut down Comair
Delta Air Lines will close its regional carrier Comair at the end of September, The New York Times reported July 27. Some 1,700 employees received 60-day termination notices. Most are located in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. Delta said Comair’s smaller regional jets were not as fuel efficient and cost more to maintain as its fleet aged. Comair accounts for about 1 percent of Delta’s flying.
Continental, United pilots vote to authorize strike
Pilots at legacy United Airlines and legacy Continental Airlines have overwhelmingly voted to authorize a legal strike pursuant to the Railway Labor Act (RLA), according to Air Line Pilots International, the union that represents the pilots. Nearly 93.9 percent of eligible pilots cast votes, and 99 percent of votes cast supported a strike if that becomes necessary, the union said July 17. This authorization follows two years of negotiations for a new joint pilot contract following the merger of United and Continental, announced in May 2010. If the National Mediation Board concludes that further mediated negotiations will not produce an agreement, it could release both sides into economic self-help after the expiration of a 30-day cooling-off period, at which point a strike could ensue.
If there were such a thing as a written exam (a knowledge test, in FAA parlance) to qualify for plane spotter status, having to identify a Beech Staggerwing would surely be on it. Here’s a hint for nailing the Staggerwing question: It’s the 1930s-era taildragging biplane with the radial engine, designated the Beech Model 17. A classic among the classics, Staggerwings often make surprise appearances on sunny summer days at fly-ins, airshows, and other gatherings of the aviation clan. Veteran plane spotters know to keep a camera within reach.
Sporty’s Solo Course
Whether you’re just starting out in flight training or still thinking about it, you might have questions about what’s in store. Sporty’s Solo Course is designed to answer those questions and show you how much fun flying is. Six hours of information, including in-flight footage, 3-D animations, and interactive on-screen review questions, are included on three DVDs. The $65 course includes a coupon for $65 off Sporty’s Private and Recreational Certificate Learn to Fly Courses. Purchase online or call 800/776-7897.
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.
Drugs—the legal kind
Why doesn’t the drug your doctor prescribed appear on the list of “approved” medications? The FAA doesn’t give its approval of an FDA-approved medication until the drug has been available for one year. Pilot Protection Services expert Dr. Warren Silberman explains the reasoning behind the FAA’s policy. Read more >>
A new look for AOPA Insurance Services
AOPA Insurance Services (AOPAIS) has made major changes to bring customers much higher levels of service and significantly improved coverage for their aviation and life insurance needs—all under one roof. Included as a part of these broader protection and service offerings is EA+, the world-class traveler’s assistance program that has proven to be extremely valuable to AOPA members. To achieve its new goals, AOPA Insurance Services is combining its high levels of industry skill and aviation knowledge with the resources of the world’s most respected insurance underwriters. Read more >>
Don’t sign your life away
This story does not have a happy ending. It is a true tale of what can happen when you decide you’ll agree to sign anything to fly the airplane of your dreams. A seasoned pilot found himself with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly a 1970s-era jet-powered military training aircraft. Without calling his insurance broker or attorney for a quick opinion, the pilot signed an agreement stating that the pilot would be responsible for any damage to the aircraft and any liability arising from his flight. Read more >>
The Valley of Blue
There are days when, flying in the Northeast in summer, Chip Wright can’t seem to get from Point A to Point B—especially when a line of thunderstorms is complicating matters. Also, if you missed AirVenture this year—or even if you didn’t—you’ll want to see our selection of photos from the big show in Oshkosh, Wis. Click here to see all Photos of the Day in the Flight Training blog.
A commercial certificate is still just a license to learn
Even when you think you’ve got the confidence of a Navy pilot, you can still go home with a pink slip on a checkride. In the Let’s Go Flying blog, Steve Tupper describes how he handled his very first “hook.”
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an aviation technical generalist, Web graphic designer, and e-newsletter and social media editor. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER