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Dec. 14, 2012, issue of 'AOPA ePilot: Flight Training Edition' weekly newsletterDec. 14, 2012, issue of 'AOPA ePilot: Flight Training Edition' weekly newsletter

AOPA ePilot

In This Issue:

VOLUME 12, ISSUE 50 — December 14, 2012

Known and unknown obstructions
Better equipment for less
Plane Spotter: Lesson in ERCO-nomics
Final Exam: ATP retest


Safety >>

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect >>


AOPA Live >>

Training Tips

Known and unknown obstructions

Training TipOne of the most basic planning chores during a pilot’s preparation for a flight between two airports is to become familiar with terrain elevation on and around the route. Then you scan your navigation chart to locate individual obstructions along your course—both to ensure safe passage and possibly to use one or more of the objects as visual checkpoints.


Give careful study to the chart depictions of those obstructions. There may be more—or less—to them than what meets the eye on a chart. Or their descriptions may warn of incomplete or unverified information.


An aircraft flying between Watford City (N.D.) Municipal Airport and Sloulin International Airport to the northwest flies over an area of terrain approximately 2,000 feet mean sea level with charted maximum-elevation figures of 3,100 feet to 3,400 feet msl.


Several towers are charted obstructions west and northwest of Watford City; the highest one, south of Lake Sakakawea, rises to 2,720 feet msl. Symbols indicate that they are single (not group) obstructions that rise to less than 1,000 feet agl.


Note that one of those towers, identified as rising to 2,699 feet msl, or 310 feet agl (shown in parentheses) has the letters UC adjacent to the symbol. UC may indicate that the obstruction is under construction, but may also mean that the reported position and elevation are unverified, according to the legend of the Billings, Mont., sectional aeronautical chart.


Are there other sources of information about that obstruction?


A pilot conducting a recent preflight planning session for the Watford City-to-Sloulin flight would have found this notice to airmen: !GFK 12/015 S25 OBST TOWER 2698 (310 AGL) 9.5 WNW LGTS OTS (ASR 1058685) TIL 1212201806.


It would be worth knowing about those out-of-service lights that would lower the tower’s value as a visual checkpoint, and also for safety in reduced visibility.


As you gain cross-country flying experience, you will discover that not all obstructions are as easily spotted as their chart symbols would suggest—a good reason to build a generous safety margin into your selection of a VFR cruise altitude for flight through an obstacle-filled area.


Test your knowledge of obstruction avoidance with this Air Safety Institute Obstacle Clearance Safety Quiz.

Flight Training News

Better equipment for less: Reg rewrite targets cost, safety

If the cost of a panel-mounted GPS were close to that of a handheld, would you upgrade? If new equipment for certified aircraft cost a fraction more than the experimental version, instead of an order of magnitude, would pilots keep more safety-enhancing tools at their fingertips? Read more >>

Weight and balance apps

This week, AOPA e-Newsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson takes a look at apps that help with weight and balance. Those who submitted the apps—WnB Pro, Weight & Balance By NextGenSystems, iFly Weight and Balance for iPad, Sporty’s Aviation Weight & Balance iPad/iPhone App, and Appventive Weight and Balance Calculator—felt very strongly about their effectiveness. Read more >>

NATF announces Richard L. Taylor flight training scholarship

The National Air Transportation Foundation has announced the Richard L. Taylor Flight Training Scholarship, the newest addition to the foundation's scholarship program. This scholarship is offered to a college or university student continuing his or her education in the aviation industry. The scholarship is named after professor emeritus Richard L. Taylor, who for 22 years was the director of flight operations and education at The Ohio State University.

National Aviation Explorer Scholarships awarded

The National Aviation Exploring Committee recently awarded scholarships to 10 explorers based on criteria including aviation career goals, community service, and leadership, reports General Aviation News . AOPA is among the organizations that donate to the committee to help fund the scholarships.

Air Safety Institute spotlight on VFR night flight

Once the sun has set and the night sky illuminates you’re in for a mostly magical and peaceful time aloft. And with the winter season’s short days and long nights, you may find an afternoon flight spill into the night rather quickly, so why not enjoy this opportunity? First review the Air Safety Institute’s Night VFR Flight Safety Spotlight, which offers plenty of night flying resources all in one convenient place. Read more >>

Aero Club Valkaria embraces business, social aspects of flying clubs

Frank Gallagher, founder of Florida’s Aero Club Valkaria, decided on a different strategy when he created the flying club in October 2010—he formed it as a limited liability company in the state. “I looked at different flying club business models. They are either very successful or they flop,” he said. Read more >>

Training Resources

Weather decoding skills are a crucial part of your pilot training. AOPA’s online weather tool can help you to become more proficient in reading weather patterns, and you’ll become more confident in your ability to make a good go/no-go call. Also see the many weather-related articles in the Flight Training archives, as well those of our sister publication, AOPA Pilot —all of which are free to AOPA members, including those who receive six months of Flight Training free.


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 8 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.


Off the fiscal cliff with Thelma and Louise?

Fast boats and heavily armed helicopters: Fly along with the Coast Guard chasing the bad guys. Is Washington about to pull a Thelma and Louise with general aviation in the car? We’ve got expert analysis on the fiscal cliff. Get an avgas update on when we could see a replacement for 100LL, and find out what the future holds from a pilot who crossed the United States in a solar-powered airplane in 1990. Learn more in a recent episode of AOPA Live This Week.

Career Pilot

Boeing 737 breaks single-year order, delivery records

Boeing set a record for year-to-date 737 deliveries with its Dec. 3 delivery of the 377th Next-Generation 737. Delivery of the airplane, a 737-900ER for United Airlines, topped the previous record of 376 deliveries set in 2010. In October, the 737 also broke its own record for net orders in a single year when it surpassed the 2007 record of 846 orders. Boeing said net year-to-date orders for the Next-Generation 737 and 737 MAX total 1,031 airplanes.

Flight attendants gain OSHA protections in cabin

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) announced Nov. 30 that federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protections will be extended to flight attendants’ work aboard commercial aircraft. The union said the FAA and OSHA worked collaboratively “to reach the policy statement released today that will correct a nearly four-decade-old exclusion of OSHA in the passenger cabin.”


For more aviation career news, see the Flight Training website.

Plane Spotter

Lesson in ERCO-nomics

Ercoupe The hangar doors rumble open. At the end of a towbar, a low-wing, canopied single rolls into view, twin vertical stabilizers eye-catching at the tips of the horizontal tail. “Look, a Fornair,” says a pilot observing through the cafe window. “That’s an Aircoupe,” states a companion. “It’s pronounced Ercoupe,” counters another. Sensing imminent controversy, the resident plane spotter seated within earshot praises all the speculations as reflective of the meandering history of this aircraft famously built without rudder pedals on its debut in 1939. This one is a 1946 415-C Ercoupe.

Training Products

Sporty’s is offering a university-level complete instrument rating course that includes detailed video segments covering glass cockpits and analog gauges. The course is available on DVD or online.


The King Schools has a CD-ROM Sport Pilot Practical Test Course (Oral Exam & Flight Test) now available. You’ll learn on-screen exactly what the FAA wants you to demonstrate to earn your rating. Filling the role of the designated examiner is Rusty Sachs, former executive director of the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), a master CFI, and an FAA-designated pilot examiner.


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.

Member Benefits

Six things you can do to speed up your medical

Most of the world is pretty much on board with electronic communications, and email is now a very convenient way to transmit medical records—unless it is going to the FAA’s Aerospace Medical Certification Division in Oklahoma City. The office is working toward that goal, but is not there yet. For now, overnight mail, snail mail, and fax are the only acceptable means of providing medical records to the FAA. Read more >>

Outbreak warning: AOPA Emergency Assistance Plus is ready to help

You may be planning your first international trip or you may be a well-seasoned traveler, but in either case, your itinerary probably doesn’t include the unexpected complications caused by a sudden outbreak of illness. In that event, Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+) will provide you with the latest authoritative information and guidance, and assist you in making evacuation arrangements, including flights, securing visas, and even ground transportation and housing. Read more >>



When Chip Wright of the Flight Training blog was working on his instrument rating, one of the first skills he learned was how to enter and fly a holding pattern. He sometimes had a devil of a time figuring out the proper entry—and at that time, there really was a requirement to get the proper entry and enter the hold properly. Sometimes he had bit of (or a lot of) trouble figuring out the best time or wind correction angle for the outbound leg. Read more >>

State of Tennessee regulating flight schools

Tennessee’s Higher Education Commission—Post Secondary Schools Division is regulating VA Approved, Part 141 flight schools under its administrative rules, Chapter 1540-01-02. AOPA Southern Region Manager Bob Minter submitted comments/objections in March, saying in part “this rule discriminates against FAR Part 141 flight schools who have invested extraordinary amounts of money into facilities, equipment and aircraft that now must meet the rules and pay the fees of the THEC at even more expense, thus their customers/students will have to pay more.” Read more >>

Mrs. Alaska United America unveils aviation platform

As Ariel Talen-Keller’s new title of Mrs. Alaska United America continues to take shape, she’s proud to announce some very exciting things happening with her platform—a project to encourage and educate women of all ages to become involved in aviation. Educating the next generation of women is important to keep the aviation community strong, not only for general aviation but in our country’s military as well. Read more >>

AOPA Career Opportunities

Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an events coordinator; AOPA eastern regional manager; .NET applications developer; manager, AOPA Flying Club Network; Web developer (eMedia); and Web graphic designer. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.


Picture Perfect

AOPA’s online photo gallery allows you to upload your own aviation photography as well as view, rate, and comment on others’ photos. Your favorite aviation images from AOPA Pilot are still available online through this new gallery. Take a look, and submit your own photos!

Picture Perfect

Facebook Become a fan

RSS feed Subscribe to the RSS feed


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.

To include an event or to search all events in the calendar, visit AOPA Online. For airport details, including FBO fuel prices, see AOPA Airports.

Final Exam


Question: What is the retesting procedure for the airline transport pilot (ATP) knowledge test? I know I don’t need an instructor endorsement to take the original test, but what if I score below 70 percent?


Answer: The answer is found in FAA Order 8080.6F. If you receive a grade lower than 70 percent and wish to retest, you must present the following to the testing center personnel: the failed Airman Test Report and a written endorsement from an authorized instructor certifying that additional instruction has been given and that the instructor finds you competent to pass the test. If you decide to retake the test in anticipation of a better score, you may retake the test 30 days after the date that your last test was accomplished. The FAA will not allow you to retake a passed test before the 30-day period has lapsed. Prior to retesting, you must give your current Airman Test Report to the test proctor. Be aware that your official score will be the last test taken.

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.

Instrument Tip

IFR Fix: That was close

Between the worsening turbulence and the reprimand from air traffic control for a blown altitude, your demeanor is rapidly decaying from merely harried to flustered and defensive. Now, however, is not the time to rehearse your lines for a testy phone call with ATC. If that becomes necessary, it will be only after you complete the approach for which you are about to be cleared. Read more >>

‘IFR Insights: Regulations’ online course

The regulations may be black and white, but instrument flight is a world of grays. In this course, you’ll learn what it takes to stay safe while staying on the FAA’s good side. Take the course >>

Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics

Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars

Jan. 5 and 6

San Jose Calif.

Ypsilanti, Mich.

Portland, Ore.

San Antonio, Texas

Jan. 12 and 13

Long Beach, Calif.

Jackson, Miss.

Charlotte, N.C.


Jan. 19 and 20

Baltimore, Md.

Bellevue, Wash.

Jan. 26 and 27

Knoxville, Tenn.



For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

Can’t make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.

Jan. 14

Mesa, Ariz.

Reno, Nev.

Jan. 15

Tucson, Ariz.

Sacramento, Calif.



Jan. 16

Milpitas, Calif.

El Paso, Texas

Jan. 17

Santa Rosa, Calif.

Albuquerque, N.M.


Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

AOPA ePilot Team

ePilot Flight Training Editor:
Benét Wilson

ePilot Editor:
Sarah Brown

Alyssa Miller
Jim Moore
Jill W. Tallman
Warren Morningstar
Alton K. Marsh

Dave Hirschman
Tom Horne
Ian J. Twombly
Dan Namowitz

Production Team:
Melissa Whitehouse
Siobhan Byrne
Katie Richardson
Lezlie Ramsey

Advertise in ePilot:
East: Mike Vodarsik, 732/946-0130
East: Gary Russo, 607/547-2591
Central: Brian Curpier, 607/547-2591
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West: Zane Lewis, 214/789-6094

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