It’s getting late in the day. It was a rude shock to discover that a misfueling incident had closed the fuel farm at your cross-country destination. Thanks to your conservative flight planning, you have plenty of gas for the return trip. But as you plow upstream in surprisingly strong headwinds, you find your discomfort level rising.
Dramatic scenario? Not outlandishly so when you study accounts of pilots who found themselves facing tough choices. Encounter only one of the circumstances given above, and your careful flight planning will get you home. But run into them in combinations, and now a routine flight is anything but.
Fortunately, the trainer is running beautifully, and the next checkpoint (if it ever shows up!) is an airport with a long runway and, presumably, fuel is available.
This is no time to push things if you are running the fuel numbers and getting a question mark for an answer. The better choice is to make a precautionary landing, fuel up, and figure out Plan B in the safety and comfort of the fixed-base operation. (Chances are, there’s someone there who will be glad to help.)
As distinguished from an emergency landing—a term that gets loose usage in media accounts and nonpilot conversation—a precautionary landing is basically a pilot’s choice when uncertainty, or a problem that has not yet reached troublesome proportions, makes it prudent to land at the next reasonable opportunity.
Reasons might include a trend on an engine gauge, a rough-running engine that isn’t remedied by carb heat, diagnosing a magneto problem, or deteriorating weather, and they might appear alone or in ugly combinations.
It’s a judgment call, but focus on what’s important to manage risk. Screen out external pressures such as the potential inconvenience of being stranded, or any impatient people waiting for the aircraft.
Do let your home base know the situation promptly after you land—or before that, by radio, conditions permitting. If you are flying on a VFR flight plan, remember to notify flight service.
Whatever disruptive effects your precautionary action has on the plans of others, count on this: They are glad that you are on the ground, safe, and they applaud your decision.
CLARIFICATION: A quote in the June 29 Training Tip cited a definition of severe thunderstorm that has since been revised. Among other criteria, it now may have hail at least one inch in diameter.
Flight Training News
The Senate on June 29 unanimously passed a bill that would give aviators more protection when faced with possible FAA enforcement actions, among other assurances. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced the bill in 2011. Read more >>
Aircraft kit industry forms association
Aircraft kit manufacturers, including Sonex and Vans Aircraft, have formed a new association that aims to increase flight safety, promote Experimental aircraft, and defend the freedom of individuals to build their own airplanes. The group believes it can improve safety by providing flight training in Experimental amateur-built aircraft. Traditionally, Experimental aircraft have been barred from commercial operations such as flight training. Read more >>
Clear prop: New training experiences at Summit
Earn a tailwheel endorsement, fly a warbird, transition to a glass cockpit aircraft, go up in a hot air balloon, or just go up with a flight instructor during AOPA Aviation Summit in Palm Springs, Calif., in October. The desert mountain scenery promises to be spectacular, so take advantage of flight training opportunities at nearby Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport. AOPA will be providing free transportation from Palm Springs to Jacqueline Cochran Regional. Read more >>
‘Racing Aces’ win Air Race Classic
Texas pilots Dianna Stanger and Victoria Holt flew a Cirrus SR22 to victory in the 2012 Air Race Classic. The pilots, who fly together professionally as the crew of a Hawker Beechcraft Premier Jet, managed to find tailwinds throughout the four-day race that began in Arizona and concluded in Batavia, Ohio. Read more >>
Bring your ATC questions to the July Facebook chat
Some pilots are nervous about communicating with air traffic controllers, but they're people just like you—and some of them are pilots, too. Come learn all about ATC on July 10 for Flight Training’s monthly live Facebook chat. Our guest chatter is AOPA Aviation Technical Specialist Aaron Pifer, who was an air traffic controller in training. Join us at 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time and bring your questions; click here to view previous chat transcripts or set up an email reminder.
The ‘impossible turn’
There you have it: Someone made the “impossible turn” and lived to talk about it. In the Air Safety Institute’s “The Impossible Turn” Real Pilot Story, the pilot’s account and video footage let you experience the incredible events as they evolve. Take the Mooney’s right seat as the pilot encounters an emergency seconds after takeoff and view from the cockpit why you shouldn’t tempt fate. Listen to the pilot and air traffic controller’s lessons learned: Their perspective and advice may prove invaluable should you face a similar situation one day.
Well, you did it. You made up your mind to learn to fly this summer. What kind of flight school is right for you—big, small, or something in between? Get some practical advice and insight by reading “Choosing the right school.” The Flight Training website has everything you need to know to get started.
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.
How to intercept a VOR radial
If VOR radial tracking and intercepting is one of your weak points, this video is for you. Intercepting a VOR is a skill that can be useful in a number of applications. Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly breaks it down into simple steps that will make the process clear and manageable. Not sure what angle of intercept to put in? He’ll show you that as well. Watch the video and practice the steps as many times as you need to—then take that knowledge into the cockpit and track away!
Cape Air launches year-round service in Caribbean
Cape Air has expanded its Caribbean presence with the start of year-round daily service between St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Vieques, Puerto Rico, effective July 1. The service originally was slated to be seasonal only. Hyannis, Mass.-based Cape Air annually flies more than 650,000 passengers to destinations in New England, New York, the Caribbean, Florida, the Mid-Atlantic, the Midwest, and Micronesia, using a fleet of 70 Cessna 402s and two ATR42s.
NetJets announces largest aircraft purchase
In what it said is the largest aircraft purchase in private aviation history, NetJets Inc. announced June 11 that it will add up to 425 new aircraft to its worldwide fleet under purchase agreements with Cessna and Bombardier. The transactions, valued at $9.6 billion, will launch the Berkshire Hathaway company’s new NetJets Signature Series of aircraft. NetJets will add up to 275 Bombardier Challenger aircraft, including 100 firm orders and options for 175 more. The order also includes up to 150 Cessna Citation Latitudes, including 25 firm orders and options for another 125. Challenger deliveries begin in 2014, and the Latitudes are to begin arriving in 2016.
It is sometimes written that it is out with the old and in with the new when a new aircraft design rolls off an aircraft assembly line. In the case of the sturdy 230-horsepower Cessna 180 Skywagon taildragger, equipped with spring-steel landing gear and manually operated flaps, newer models indeed came along—but it’s definitely still in with the old. Whether you spot one on floats, astride bagel-like tundra tires, or just rolling along a runway, you have spied an aircraft that its devotees consider “the most versatile aircraft ever designed.”
ASA Private Oral Exam Guide
Aviation Supplies & Academics Inc. (ASA) has released an updated version of its Private Oral Exam Guide. A new chapter on scenario-based training was written by 2009 Flight Instructor of the Year Arlynn McMahon. The new content is intended to provide insight into open-ended questions. The guide utilizes a question-and-answer format to list questions most likely to be asked by an examiner. Each question includes a reference to the FAA source from which the answer is derived. The softcover 256-page book is $12.95 and may be ordered online or by calling 800/272-2359.
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.
Cleared for takeoff after joint replacement surgery
Joint replacement surgery is commonplace now, with total knee and hip replacements being among the most frequently performed procedures. Actually, there isn’t a lot required by the FAA when you report the surgery on your next medical application. Read more >>
Pilots who teach you how not to be
There are pilots whose behavior we admire and emulate. Then there are those who inadvertently wind up on YouTube. These pilots generally teach you how you don't want to be, Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman says in this week's Flight Training blog.
Recently soloed student pilot Kristen Seaman could hardly wait to plan her first cross-country to the beach for Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans, as she explains in the Let’s Go Flying blog .
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, aviation technical writer, and enewsletter and social media editor. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER