The clouds are lower, and visibility is failing. Fuel isn’t a problem yet, but time is ticking. Were it only a little easier to see, you could spot a landmark, reorient yourself, and find the way home. Somewhere out there is a 1,500-foot-high peak, and numerous towers.
Avoiding scenarios like that is an everyday concern for pilots of basic or modestly equipped aircraft, even if the possibility may strike many digital-age pilots as remote. But throw in a little complacency, an electrical problem, and some weather, and suddenly your pilotage skills could be put to the test.
How would you fare?
Here’s a way to find out: Get “lost.” Not with the risks—think obstruction hazards or airspace incursions—that you could face under adverse conditions. Make re-establishing exact knowledge of your position a controlled experiment that tests the skills needed to cope with the real thing.
This is not a hard experiment to set up safely and effectively with your instructor aboard as facilitator and safety pilot. During a cross-country diversion exercise, descend to a safely low altitude and establish your exact position en route to the alternate airport using visual checkpoints, estimated groundspeed, and track.
You can test the same skills as the immediate follow-up to a period of dual practice of flight by reference to instruments (during which you have not been permitted to look outside for a while).
Stumped as to your whereabouts? Then you must decide on an “appropriate course of action,” as called for in the Private Pilot Practical Test Standards (PTS), and subject to the flight conditions your CFI has imposed for the drill.
Getting un-lost doesn’t have to be a visual-references-only process. Leaving the GPS switched off, see if you can determine your position using intersecting radials from two VORs—in essence, creating your own waypoint. Be sure to verify your findings using a visual checkpoint that should now be visible from your probable position. Find more tips in the Air Safety Institute Emergency Operations Webinar.
Speaking of the PTS, it’s not just for tests. The Flight Training Checkride column reminded pilots that “the FAA, Congress, your insurance carrier, your passengers, and anyone else who has an interest in how safely you fly expects you to fly per the PTS.”
That could mean having to do things the old-fashioned way someday.
Flight Training News
The first pilot to complete Redbird Skyport’s simulator-first flight training earned a private pilot certificate on May 7. Abraham McIntyre, executive director of Bahamas Methodist Habitat, took his checkride with 33 hours of simulator training followed by 41 hours of flight time. McIntyre trained for all maneuvers and even took a mock checkride in the simulator before stepping into an aircraft. Read more >>
Learn to Fly events target future pilots
Prospective pilots will have an opportunity to take the first step toward a certificate May 19 through dozens of International Learn to Fly Day events that will feature free orientation flights. The Experimental Aircraft Association said local EAA chapters and aviation organizations are leading the way by offering the adult orientation flights. AOPA will sponsor its event June 2 at Frederick Municipal Airport because of airspace restrictions related to the G8 Summit the weekend of May 19. Read more > >
Horne to talk weather at June Flight Training chat
Bring all your weather concerns to the June Flight Training Facebook chat at 3 p.m. Eastern time on June 5. AOPA Editor at Large Tom Horne, a meteorologist and longtime weather writer for AOPA publications, will be on hand to field your questions as part of the Air Safety Institute’s Storm Week. Horne excels at explaining the often-complex patterns that create weather in terms a student pilot can grasp; see his article, “Front Fundamentals,” in the June 2012 Flight Training for an example. To participate in the chat, log onto the Flight Training Facebook page and click on the chat link. You can also sign up for an email reminder of the upcoming chat or view transcripts of previous chats.
New post at AOPA to lead effort to boost pilot population
AOPA is searching for a leader to head the association’s new center that focuses on advancing the pilot community. The vice president of the Center to Advance the Pilot Community will lead efforts to build community among pilots, reduce the student pilot dropout rate, encourage nonflying pilots to return to the sky, reach out to youth, and conduct research and education activities. Read more >>
Field elevation, runway length, obstacles, wind, and temperature are critical components of your aircraft’s takeoff and landing performance calculations. And, as explained in the Air Safety Institute’s Mastering Takeoffs and Landings Safety Advisor, there are additional important considerations beyond pilot’s operating handbook values to make a truly well-informed go/no-go decision. Heard of the Air Safety Institute’s 50-50 rule? Find out more in this enlightening Safety Advisor.
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.
"AOPA Live This Week" launches
Been yearning for an all-aviation program that brings you the latest and the greatest developments in anything with wings? AOPA Live® has debuted its new weekly video broadcast, AOPA Live This Week. On the inaugural episode, you’ll find out details about the Hawker Beechcraft bankruptcy; follow Editor at Large Tom Horne as he checks out new designs at Aero Friedrichshafen, the all-GA trade show held annually in southern Germany; meet high school students who have entered their own designs for a new light sport aircraft in a national competition; and much more. Watch AOPA Live This Week >>
US Airways boosts service to East Coast hubs
US Airways announced on May 7 the launch of new daily, nonstop service from Austin-Bergstrom and San Antonio international airports to the airline’s international gateway of Philadelphia International Airport. The new flights, which begin on Sept. 5, will be by 99-passenger Embraer 190 aircraft. The carrier also said that it will begin a sixth daily flight between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Philadelphia, as well as two additional daily flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Charlotte, N.C.
Hawker Beechcraft files for bankruptcy reorganization
Hawker Beechcraft Inc. announced May 3 that it has reached an agreement with a significant number of its senior secured lenders and senior bondholders on the terms of a financial restructuring plan that will eliminate approximately $2.5 billion in debt and approximately $125 million of annual cash interest expense. To quickly implement the terms of the prearranged restructuring, designed to strengthen the company for the future, Hawker Beechcraft and some of its subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. The company said it will continue to serve its customers, and all orders for available products will be fulfilled.
There are lots of American trainers, but there is only one American Trainer—a two-seat, low-wing, canopied aircraft powered by the same engine found under the cowlings of Cessna 152s and Piper Tomahawks. It may require a close-up examination (wheel pants, type of propeller) to determine whether the airplane you have spotted is a TR-2, its forerunner, the AA1 Yankee, or another member of the family. Known as speedy and not too forgiving of sloppy handling, many examples can still be found in the departure lines at airports large and small.
Stratus portable in-flight weather receiver
Sporty’s is taking orders for the Appareo Stratus receiver that streams in-flight weather to Foreflight and can be displayed on an iPad. The unit provides radar, METARs, terminal aerodrome forecasts, pilot reports, temporary flight restrictions, and more information, and does not require a monthly subscription to obtain the data. The unit sells for $799. The estimated ship date on orders is May 30. Order online or call 800/776-7897.
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.
One new program that has created a lot of buzz among AOPA members is the new Pilot Protection Services. Members enrolled in the program benefit from the advice and assistance available through AOPA’s Legal Services Plan, as well as access to a variety of other services that can help you protect both your pilot and medical certificates. Read more >>
The only thing faster than the airplane is information
In this week’s Flight Training blog, professional pilot Chip Wright recounts a flight in which information passed at the speed of, well, sound to help other pilots avoid a turbulent ride. Also, Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman says that in light of Mother’s Day, there are things you can do to help Mom worry less about your flight training adventures.
Am I too young or too old to begin flight training?
The short answer is, no! Neil Hershman explains the rules and regulations regarding FAA certification and shares ideas on how to get in the sky, whether you are too young to solo or wondering whether the FAA will give you a medical certificate, 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 a vice president of information systems; human resources generalist; insurance services administrative coordinator; registration, housing, and meeting planner; vice president–Center to Advance the Pilot Community; aviation technical writer; vice president of strategy and philanthropic operations; program manager–products; project manager of online products; director of new market development; and associate editor–Web/ ePilot. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER