Got your night flying done yet?
Now is the time of year to nail down those requirements for the private pilot certificate. Under the regulations you must have three hours of night flight training in a single-engine airplane that includes one cross-country flight of more than 100 nautical miles total distance, and "10 takeoffs and 10 landings to a full stop (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport" to be eligible for night-flying privileges. The Air Safety Institute’s Night Flying Safety Spotlight will help you to review some special considerations for planning and executing a night flight.
Three hours will give you a taste of night flight, but hardly a complete survey. So it’s not automatically a good idea to log all the required night training in one long evening session. Dividing it into multiple missions broadens your experience, and avoids fatigue.
Launching on the initial night flight at dusk and continuing under moonlight is an ideal introduction. Next time, move on to darker skies and more challenging surface winds. This lesson plan offers night-flight preparation pointers.
As for that 100-nm cross-country flight: Select a route by giving possible destinations careful review. Note what kind of lighting exists at planned stops. Research how to operate any pilot-controlled lighting system.
If you selected a towered airport, check hours of tower operation. If the tower is closed when you arrive, what airspace class will be in effect?
Build a strong margin of obstacle clearance into your selection of a cruise altitude, with forecast cloud levels also to be considered. Keep night fuel-reserve requirements in mind when calculating your requirements.
Will you overfly or pass near other airports en route? That's good insurance in the event of an emergency.
Expect to rely much more on your attitude-control instruments under night VFR conditions. Keep a running check on weather—ahead and behind—paying attention to any narrowing temperature/dew-point spread. That spread is your early warning about formation of fog.
Certain optical illusions are characteristic of night flight. Also, crosswinds may seem more pronounced with fewer visual references by which to judge their intensity.
Practicing those 10 (or more) takeoffs and landings will be exhilarating—and light traffic may give you more options. Your instructor may have you land once or twice without your landing light—good experience, and landing lights do sometimes fail.
Enjoy the beauty of night flight, while moving your training forward.
Flight Training News
Adam Kisielewski came home from Iraq in 2005 minus his left arm and his right leg below the knee. With the help of his fighting spirit and the wonders of modern battlefield medicine, he is moving on to a longtime goal. He will soon begin pursuing the dream of flight thanks to a training scholarship provided by Able Flight, an organization that seeks to help people with disabilities. Kisielewski lives in Frederick, Md., and flew with AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman in the 2012 Tougher than a Tornado Sweepstakes Husky.
Liberty University dismantling helicopter program
Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., will disband its helicopter flight training program this year, just four years after the program was launched. Officials cited low student interest and limited job opportunities for helicopter pilots. Meanwhile, the university will expand its program on unmanned aircraft systems, according to a report in the Lynchburg News & Advance. Liberty's school of aeronautics reports more than 600 enrollees.
Compared to the ultra-refined, practically maintenance-free engines in cars these days, most aircraft powerplants are serious attention hogs. From tricky hot- and cold-start procedures to the vagaries of cruise power settings, leaning, and temperature management, there's just a lot more to think about. Are you an expert on aircraft engine operations? Test yourself with this week's Air Safety Institute safety quiz.
Santa Monica flight schools to limit nighttime takeoffs and landings
The six flight schools that operate at Santa Monica Municipal Airport in Santa Monica, Calif., volunteered to reduce the number of nighttime takeoffs and landings. The schools have been the target of many complaints from neighborhood groups. In December, the flight schools said renters and instructors will not make repeated takeoffs and landings after 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday until March. Repeated takeoffs and landings would cease after 8 p.m. on Sundays throughout the year, according to SantaMonicaPatch.com.
Becoming a pilot means more than knowing how to control the aircraft after the wheels leave the ground. Nearly every flight begins and ends on a runway, and understanding how to navigate to that runway safely is an essential skill for every pilot to master. Take the Runway Safety online course from the Air Safety Institute and learn more about avoiding runway incursions as well as tips for making the transition from the ramp to the air a little easier.
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.
Mission pilot’s airplane gets an ‘Extreme Makeover’
It’s likely you’ve never heard of Joe Hurston, president of Air Mobile Ministries, or the efforts he makes to fly water purification and other supplies to Haiti. But you’ve probably heard of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the ABC television show. The popular program did a top-to-bottom refurbishment of Hurston’s house—he now has a home office that resembles the interior of a Boeing 737. And his Cessna Skymaster, which the Haitian locals have dubbed “Ti Burik” (that means “Little Donkey”), got an amazing makeover too. See it all in the AOPA Live® video >>
The Independent Pilots Association, which represents pilots for UPS, on Dec. 22 filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging the FAA's exclusion of cargo operations from the new flight and duty time rules. "To potentially allow fatigued cargo pilots to share the same skies with properly rested passenger pilots creates an unnecessary threat to public safety," said Capt. Robert Travis, IPA president. "We can do better." Pilot union leaders at UPS and FedEx sent a joint letter to President Barack Obama strongly opposing any cargo exemption from proposed new regulations.
Study finds link between airline profitability, accident rates
Airlines' accident risk is highest when they are performing very close to their financial targets, according to a study by Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management. "The accident risk went down as they got further away from their financial goals in either direction," said Peter Madsen, assistant professor of organizational leadership and strategy. The study, which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Management, looked at 133 U.S. airlines from 1990 to 2007.
Few aircraft are so visually striking that they will cause an airport visitor to point their way—no matter what other aircraft may be available for inspection nearby. The Lake amphibian is surely one of them. A retractable single with a hull instead of a belly, it has a pusher prop mounted high on the fuselage (to keep it out of the spray). The Lake 250 Renegade is the most common model of the estimated 1,300 Lake Aircraft products flying today. The first of these aircraft flew in 1948.
‘Then and Now: How airplanes got this way’ by Phil Scott
Longtime AOPA Pilot and Flight Training contributor Phil Scott has published a collection of historical essays that take a lighthearted look at aircraft through history. He explains why an airplane can stall with its engine running at full speed; who invented rudder pedals, ailerons, and the fuselage; and much more. Sporty's is taking advance orders for the book, which will sell for $19.95. Order online or call 800/776-7897 (800/SPORTYS).
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Insurance to protect flight instructors
Flight instructors are a valuable and critical resource to the future of general aviation. As such, AOPA wants to protect them. The AOPA Insurance Agency offers a practical level of insurance coverage that can protect flight instructors in the event of a loss when teaching in someone else's aircraft, or afterward—if named in a lawsuit for instruction previously given. Read more >>
AOPA's WorldPoints MasterCard becomes a networking tool
AOPA member Peter Dekker used his AOPA WorldPoints MasterCard card to buy wood pellets for his home's stove and ended up finding a partner for the Piper Archer II he flies with his wife. Read more >>
Your aviation goals
The new year is here. What are your flying dreams and aspirations for 2012? More importantly, what will you do to see them to fruition? Flight Training Associate Editor Jill W. Tallman shares some goal-setting strategies from motivational speaker Zig Ziglar to help get you going in this week’s Flight Training blog.
As a student pilot, you’re learning that special VFR allows pilots to fly in lower visibility in controlled airspace. Would you be surprised to learn that rotary-wing pilots have different requirements for special VFR? Tim McAdams explains the differences in this week’s Hover Power blog.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a corporate partnership coordinator, chief flight instructor, director of corporate finance, manager of flight training programs, AOPA Live producer/videojournalist, associate editor–Web/ ePilot, and aviation technical specialist. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
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