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Dec. 21, 2012, issue of 'AOPA ePilot: Flight Training Edition' weekly newsletterDec. 21, 2012, issue of 'AOPA ePilot: Flight Training Edition' weekly newsletter

AOPA ePilot

In This Issue:

VOLUME 12, ISSUE 51 — December 21, 2012

Doing it yourself
‘Fiscal cliff’ aviation impacts
Plane Spotter: Cessna Stationair
Final Exam: Thermal plume


Safety >>

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect >>


AOPA Live >>

Training Tips

Doing it yourself

Training TipIt's a calm sunny day, perfect for the important solo cross-country that you planned overnight. Your trainer has been towed from its sheltered spot in the warm hangar, and now sits on the ramp, wheels chocked, fuel tanks full. Soon you will preflight and launch on this milestone training flight.


Not quite the picture that usually greets you at the airport?


Many student pilots face more of a do-it-yourself proposition when it comes to preparing the trainer for flight. But that's not all bad. What may be lacking in service and amenities may give back as invaluable experience for possible future aircraft ownership. You will certainly come to appreciate the daily labors of airport line crews, and learn a thing or two about proper aircraft handling.


Winter “ramp ops” will also teach critical lessons about safety. Maneuvering an aircraft out of a parking spot or into a safe position for engine start requires thought and care, even more on an ice-crusted ramp. And any pilot who has fruitlessly fussed with frozen tiedown ropes, or tingled at the touch of a well-chilled towbar, will appreciate hearing the warning call “prop clear” from a nearby aircraft that is about to start.


Don’t struggle with a seriously stuck Skyhawk, or risk injury wrestling it into motion by yourself. Call for assistance—of the motorized variety if necessary. Never ignore placards warning against pushing or stepping on a control surface or other aircraft part.


Supervise motorized towing, making sure that the allowable nose-gear turning angle is not exceeded (in a 1980 Cessna 152 it is 30 degrees either side of center). Design of nosewheel steering mechanisms is what determines the limits; your trainer’s may differ.


Fueling the aircraft yourself? Attaching the grounding cable is an essential safety measure even if the line must be fished out of ice or snow. “It’s important to attach the cable to an unpainted surface to ensure good conductivity. Painted tiedown rings don’t count,” wrote Mark Twombly in the March 2009 Flight Training magazine’s “What It Looks Like” column.


Dress for success in the art of winter ground handling. If you have overlooked some important item, it’s not too late to ask Santa for that needed pair of warm gloves.

Flight Training News

‘Fiscal cliff’ negotiations could bring aviation impacts

With the leaders of both political parties locked in high-stakes brinkmanship over taxes and spending, there is concern that the so-called “fiscal cliff,” and the deep spending cuts and tax increases that would follow, could do significant damage to aviation. The FAA stands to lose $1 billion of its $15.8 billion budget if automatic spending cuts are allowed to proceed, and impacts would be felt by general aviation, aerospace manufacturers, and airline interests alike. Read more >>

Database helps experimental-aircraft pilots find instructors

The Experimental Aircraft Association wants to help pilots of experimental amateur-built aircraft contact flight instructors who can provide them with additional safety training. EAA has published an online list of instructors authorized by the FAA to offer instruction in their own experimental aircraft for hire “for purposes of type specific training.” Read more >>

‘Flight Training’ magazine chat’s featured apps

This week, AOPA e-Newsletter and Social Media Editor Benét Wilson used apps discussed in Flight Training magazine’s monthly chat—FltPln, MyWingMan, AirWX, Radarscope, and FlyQ EFB—as the basis for her review. Read more >>

North Carolina community college unveils aviation school

Kinston, N.C.-based Lenoir Community College has unveiled its Aviation Management and Career Pilot Technology Program, reports General Aviation News . The college is touting the two-year program as an affordable option for aviation education, offering a two-year degree in aviation management and career pilot technology, as well as two diploma and four certificate programs.

Lost? Stop, look, listen … and ask

The more you fly, the more airports you will visit. You’ll quickly learn that every airport has its own nuances with regard to taxiway and runway layouts, and it can become confusing quickly if you’ve never flown into that airport before. While airport diagrams are helpful, the pressure to keep moving quickly or to look like a “pro” can get you lost in a hurry. The solution? Ask for directions. In this segment of the Air Safety Institute’s Ask ATC, listen to a controller’s perspective on asking for progressive taxi instructions.

Checkride checklist

You’ve honed your skills and polished the flight maneuvers—and now it’s time to get ready for the checkride. But how much do you know about what to expect during the practical test? Are you ready? Take the Air Safety Institute’s 10-question Private Pilot Checkride safety quiz to test your knowledge and prepare for the best ride of your life. Take the quiz >>

A friendly voice in the air

A common misperception in aviation is that if you make a radio call for help to an air traffic controller, you will have to do a bunch of paperwork. The truth is that the controllers would rather you contact them than the alternative. Learn more by reading the Air Safety Institute’s Say Intentions: When you need ATC’s help Safety Advisor.

Training Resources

As a student pilot, you can never buy enough equipment and tools. AOPA e-Newsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson went to and chose 10 items she’d love to see under her Christmas tree. Read more >>


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.


New LSA lands in the US

We received 300 nominations, but only one airport can be deemed the most challenging. How is the Cessna Skycatcher light sport aircraft working out as a trainer? What does the FCC have to say to the FAA about iPads in airplanes? Finally, we fly the newest LSA to land on our shores. Watch all this and more in a recent episode of AOPA Live This Week.

Career Pilot

Is this the formula for flight training success?

When Jerry Gregoire and Redbird Flight Simulations first unveiled the FMX full-motion simulator to a skeptical flight training community five years ago, it was unlike anything that had been tried previously. This presented a problem for the company as it sought to create a market for a product that had already been designed, built, and offered for sale. Read more >>

FAA may reduce certification hours for military pilots

The FAA is mulling a change that would allow military pilots to make the transition to becoming an airline pilot by lowering flight hours for a “restricted privileges” airline transport pilot certificate from 1,500 to 750, reports Air Force Times . The article quotes an official from the Air Force Association, who says military pilots might consider an airline career if the change is made.

Emirates to open training academy in 2014

Dubai-based airline Emirates said it will open the Emirates Flight Training Academy, based at Dubai World Central Airport, in 2014, reports Gulf Business . The $136 million facility will provide flight training for up to 400 students, offering ground school, ab initio flight training, and ground-based simulators.


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

Plane Spotter

Freight to behold: Cessna Stationair

Cessna 206 Stationair A plane spotter’s eye is drawn to the high-wing single that has just parked on the transient ramp. It’s outsized compared to the Skyhawks and 150/152 trainers tied down nearby—but clearly also a fixed-gear Cessna. That three-bladed prop is an enticing clue. But any suspicion that the new arrival is a Skylane variant vanishes when a side view reveals a six-place cabin and the name “Stationair” on the cowling’s side. This is a Cessna 206, one of the heavy haulers of the Cessna models 205, 206, and 207.

Training Products

A VFR 12-month gift subscription to AOPA’s new FlyQ EFB makes a great stocking stuffer for the student pilot on your list. The AOPA member-only price is $69.99 for 12 months when purchased through AOPA. It includes seamless, georeferenced sectionals; more than 700 georeferenced FAA airport diagrams; smart auto-routing based on predicted winds aloft; 3-D synthetic vision; 3-D terrain; highway in the sky (HITS); and electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) display. It also features split screen view, track-up or north-up modes, the AOPA Airports directory information, covering more than 3,100 airport diagrams and AOPA member comments.


ASA’s Cockpit Procedures handbook is another great gift for the student pilot in your life. The handbook offers readers a solid understanding of the underlying principles for, and detailed descriptions of, the checklists and routines used in many flight schools. Users will find it contains a practical definition of airmanship, and covers good habits to develop, effective workload management, and even what you should have in your flight bag.


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

New Year’s fly well resolutions

Most resolutions fade by Jan. 2, but getting healthy keeps you flying longer, so give it a shot. Let’s look at a few corollaries to benefit your health both inside and outside the cockpit. Read more >>


Got a checkride this weekend?

Whenever we ask our Facebook friends what their flying plans are for the weekend, invariably they report they’ve got a checkride scheduled, writes Flight Training Technical Editor Jill Tallman. It makes sense; we are, after all, a community for student pilots. So here are some tips for doing your best and nailing that ride. Read more >>

Flying maneuvers with a video

All pilots and prospective pilots remember the excitement of the first time they got to take the control of an airplane in flight. Neil Hershman recalls his “discovery flight” when, passing through 1,000 feet, the instructor sitting next to him said, “why don’t you hold the stick and make a turn to the right.” Read more >>

Moral courage award

Moral courage can be thought of as the willingness to make sound safety decisions even when they are difficult or unpopular, writes blogger Tim McAdams. Many times the pilot that exercises the courage to turn down a flight is making a tough decision, and in many cases the pilot’s actions go unnoticed. Although it is impossible to know about the accident that didn’t happen, it is a reasonable assumption that a certain percentage of no-go decisions have prevented accidents and possibly saved lives. Read more >>


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!

Facebook Become a fan

RSS feed Subscribe to the RSS feed

Picture Perfect


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 a thermal plume and what kind of flight hazards exist around one?


Answer: A thermal plume is a vertically directed unstable gaseous emission from places such as power plants and industrial facilities. These high-temperature exhaust plumes can be visible or invisible and can cause significant atmospheric turbulence and vertical shear. They also can include other hazards such as reduced visibility, engine particulate contamination, and reduced oxygen levels. Aircraft damage can result from encountering such plumes. Pay particular attention to the charts especially in areas where low-level flight will be necessary, such as takeoff and landing, to avoid flying near or through a plume. The FAA is currently studying thermal plumes for potential changes to rules and policy regarding them.

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: A real KLUTZ

Flying home from holiday visiting in post-snowstorm squalls, you tune in the automated terminal information—and hear some surprising news. Radar is out for the destination. That explains an oddity in your clearance. Today’s routing goes a step beyond the accustomed transition followed by vectors, instead taking you all the way to KLUTZ intersection. It’s the initial approach fix for the LOC RWY 7 approach to the Westerly, R.I., airport. Now it will be necessary to fly the full approach. Read more >>

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
Central: Gary Brennan, 607/547-2591
West: Zane Lewis, 214/789-6094

AOPA Advertising website

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