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Dec. 28, 2012, issue of 'AOPA ePilot: Flight Training Edition' weekly newsletterDec. 28, 2012, issue of 'AOPA ePilot: Flight Training Edition' weekly newsletter

AOPA ePilot

In This Issue:

VOLUME 12, ISSUE 52 — December 28, 2012

‘WS’ a turbulent TAF tidbit
Top 10 Air Safety Institute hits of 2012
Plane Spotter: Republic Seabee
Final Exam: Cold weather procedures


Safety >>

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect >>


AOPA Live >>

Training Tips

‘WS’ a turbulent TAF tidbit

Training TipChecking out the terminal forecast as an early winter storm makes its way out of the region, you can tell that it will be a while before marginal visibility, low clouds, and showery precipitation make a complete exit.


No sense rushing out to the airport just yet. And, as you read the terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF), you note that it concludes with an unfamiliar section that begins with the letters WS, followed by wind data:


181800Z 1818/1918 08012KT 6SM -RA OVC010 FM181900 08014G21KT 3SM -RA OVC008 FM190600 07012KT 2SM -RA OVC003 FM190900 05010KT 2SM -RASN OVC003 FM191300 02010KT 1SM -SN OVC003 WS020/08040KT


Good thing you noticed that item! The passage contains an alert for expected wind shear, which is a hazard to any aircraft of any size. That’s why air traffic control actively solicits pilot reports about wind shear encounters.


To review: “Wind shear refers to winds in the same area blowing in different directions, or at different speeds, or both. This shear creates turbulence by creating rolling motions,” wrote Jack Williams in his Weather column, “A clearer view of invisible winds,” in the March 2011 Flight Training.


“The greater the difference in wind speed or in wind direction, the stronger the turbulence will be,” he added.


The Aeronautical Information Manual’s explanation of TAF elements describes how WS information is presented. You will find it in section (e), containing so-called optional data. “Wind shear is the forecast of nonconvective low level winds (up to 2,000 feet). The forecast includes the letters ‘WS’ followed by the height of the wind shear, the wind direction and wind speed at the indicated height and the ending letters ‘KT’ (knots). Height is given in hundreds of feet (AGL) up to and including 2,000 feet. Wind shear is encoded with the contraction ‘WS,’ followed by a three-digit height, slant character ‘/,’ and winds at the height indicated in the same format as surface winds. The wind shear element is omitted if not expected to occur,” it says.


If you noted that the alerts discuss “nonconvective” wind shear, remember that when convective activity is present or expected, it is always wise to be on guard for wind shear (or much better, on the ground). “Any time thunderstorms are forecast near an airport you should expect wind shear and turbulence,” advised Williams.


Flight Training News

Top 10 Air Safety Institute products of 2012

A pilot’s quest to understand a small but haunting critical mistake he made as pilot in command—and help others avoid similar errors—led to the development of the Air Safety Institute’s most-viewed new product of 2012. Read more >>

Answers for Pilots: Ah, the islands!

Looking for a tropical escape from winter chills? After reviewing these requirements, you’ll be ready for a general aviation flight from the United States to the Bahamas. In addition to the clear turquoise waters and white sand, there’s a contest this year and next, sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and administered by, to encourage you to do some island hopping. Read more >>

AOPA Flying Club Network unveils newsletter

The AOPA Flying Club Network has launched the first issue of Club Connector, a monthly newsletter that spotlights the latest flying club news. This month’s issue includes an interview with AOPA Senior Vice President of the Center to Advance the Pilot Community Adam Smith, a question of the month on FBO relationships, a poll on Internet scheduling systems, a profile of the Blue Skies Aviation Association, and information about how to organize a fly-out to the Bahamas. Read more >>

Scholarship America tracks aviation scholarships

Scholarship America has compiled a list of places that students can tap when looking for funds to help pay for aviation careers. Among those they recommend are the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation; The Ninety-Nines Inc., International Organization of Women Pilots; the Aircraft Electronics Association Educational Foundation; and the Aero Club of New England.

Apply for Helicopter Foundation International scholarships

Dec. 31 is the deadline to apply for the Helicopter Foundation International’s Commercial Helicopter Rating, Maintenance Technician Certificate, Bill Sanderson Aviation Maintenance Technician, and Michelle North Safety scholarships. The scholarship program was created to help fill the need for qualified commercial helicopter pilots and helicopter maintenance technicians.

Georgia Business Aviation Association offers scholarships

The Georgia Business Aviation Association has opened applications for its 2013 scholarship program for its members. It is giving up to $4,000 each for those pursuing continuing education. Scholarships of $9,100 are being awarded to those interested in attending executive education courses at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business for courses in managing the corporate aviation function or developing leadership capability.

Texas aviation foundation urges pilots to PLEDGE

The Texas Aviation Association Foundation is urging pilots to join its PLEDGE program, created to help cut general aviation accident rates, reports General Aviation News . The acronym PLEDGE covers six items that research has found are the leading causes of GA accidents.

Air Safety Institute offers ‘Chart Challenge’ live seminar

What would we do without charts? They’re one of the most fundamental parts of flying—but they can also be challenging to interpret, difficult to read, and sometimes head-scratchingly confusing. This new Air Safety Institute live seminar is meant to help you master them. Find a location near you >>

Training Resources

The checklist is one of the least expensive yet most effective safety devices available in the cockpit. Not following a checklist could have dire consequences. Check out this informative article from Flight Training and continue to browse the magazine’s archives for a wealth of information to help you achieve your goal of obtaining your pilot certificate.


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.


AOPA Live: Best videos of 2012

AOPA Live This Week, the Directors' Cut 2012 Fly along in the French Alps as we land on some of the most challenging airports on Earth. Fly in a B-29 with the first woman to solo one. We head to New Zealand for an epic flight. Fly with us in a radical new piston twin. And get a behind-the-scenes look at AOPA Live This Week from the show’s producers. Watch it all in AOPA Live This Week, the Directors’ Cut 2012. AOPA Live This Week’s next show will air Jan. 10.

Career Pilot

Future of GA sparks debate at Wichita event

A debate about whether Wichita, Kan., is or will continue to be the Air Capital of the World kicked off the annual On-Air Summit hosted by the Wichita Aero Club on Dec. 12. Leading aviation editors, including AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines, debated that subject and many others during the session. Read more >>

US Airways proposes merger with American

AMR Corp.’s new contract with pilots at its American Airlines subsidiary has paved the way for a formal proposal from US Airways Group to merge with American, which has operated under bankruptcy protection since November 2011. The proposed merger could value the combined airline at around $8.5 billion, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Delta, Virgin Atlantic announce alliance

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. have announced an agreement for a new joint venture that will create an expanded trans-Atlantic network. Under the agreement, Delta will invest $360 million in Virgin Atlantic, acquiring a 49-percent stake currently held by Singapore Airlines.


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

Plane Spotter

Republic Seabee: A word from our sponson

Republic Seabee If it’s a high-wing taildragger that looks like a boat, a plane spotter can count on this much: It is a boat. That explains those funny-looking objects out near the ends of the wings called sponsons that aid taxiing on water. And look at that turned-around propeller—a pusher—mounted above and rearward of the cabin. This could be a Republic Seabee, a 215-horsepower, high-maintenance curiosity that was even flown in an early James Bond movie, and is still a star at gatherings of seaplanes, amphibs, and classics.

Training Products

Sporty’s offers its Study Buddy Test Prep to help get you ready for the FAA written test. It offers a free online version, a premium version that offers answers with explanations, and flashcards and apps on the iOS and Android platforms. Users can create customized study sessions, take randomly generated practice tests, and use learning mode to select specific aeronautical knowledge areas.


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

Are your insurance policies overdue for their annual inspection?

As the new year begins, it’s the perfect time to review your insurance policies. A lot can happen in a year and your coverage needs may have changed. Read more >>


Don’t be left out

Flight Training Technical Editor Jill Tallman recently took a photo en route to her home base of Frederick Municipal Airport. Believe it or not, it was her first night flight in years. As nice as night flight is, it’s not her favorite. The prospect of losing an engine at night is a little intimidating. Her night vision isn’t great, and she had never flown her 1964 Piper Cherokee 140 at night. Read more >>

My flight training story

Let’s Go Flying guest blogger David Gianna is a high-time student working toward a private pilot certificate. He posts about having to endure many obstacles and postponing or delaying his training numerous times. Read more >>


In the early 1900s, Juan de la Cierva, a Spanish aviator who built airplanes and gliders, unknowingly helped with the development of the helicopter. When one of his airplane prototypes crashed on its second flight during a low-speed stall, he decided to try to find a way to allow airplanes to fly slower. 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: If I observe some phenomena that I can’t explain while flying, to whom should I report it?


Answer: There are centers that collect and analyze data on unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and other unexplained in-flight phenomena. Two such centers are Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS) and the National UFO Reporting Center. Any concern regarding life and/or property should be reported to local law enforcement.

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: What goes around

Two pilots entering holds get questioned by ATC. Neither discussion ends with a quick exchange, leaving both pilots torn between defending themselves and avoiding an airborne argument. How they handled the disputes, in their own words in Aviation Safety Reporting System filings, provides good guidance for other pilots. Read more >>

More than just lines on paper

Whether you’re working on your instrument rating or recently passed the checkride, IFR charts are frequently updated to reflect new systems, procedures, and equipment—all to make the skies safer for all. Do you know how to decode the charts needed for your flights? Learn more by taking the Air Safety Institute’s IFR Insights: Charts online course. 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:
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Central: Brian Curpier, 607/547-2591
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West: Zane Lewis, 214/789-6094

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