Whether it’s a new chapter in your flight training or a refresher from last year, the onset of cold weather shifts the focus of preflight preparations and piloting technique.
With temperatures dipping below freezing and storms passing through, pay special attention during preflight briefings to airport conditions such as braking action reports, the presence of any snowdrifts alongside runways and taxiways, and whether plowing operations have temporarily closed a runway or imposed a requirement for prior permission to be obtained a stated amount of time before taking off or landing.
Especially on crisp, cold mornings, inspect your trainer meticulously for frost. Yes, it’s cold out there on the flight line, but don’t make short work of this crucial task. You would be surprised—and many mishaps confirm—how little frost it takes to render an airfoil incapable of developing sufficient lift. The many articles you may have read urging the complete removal of the stuff are not exaggerated. Remember, frost can form without the presence of visible moisture.
Frost removed? Next, be sure that your trainer’s pitot tube and static port are unobstructed. How would your airspeed indicator respond to a pitot-tube blockage? Pilots who don’t recognize the symptoms have run into easily avoidable trouble.
If your aircraft engine needs preheating, either because of the engine manufacturer’s recommended winter-starting procedure or because your flight school requires it below a certain temperature, time it so that you can complete preflight chores and start up as soon as possible after the line crew hauls the preheater safely away.
Snow on taxiways and runways is a reminder to taxi with added caution. A slow speed and minimal use of brakes can help avoid a freeze-up, but you should guard against other ways frozen water can interfere with brake operation.
An unexpected encounter with snow during flight is not a problem, provided visual conditions prevail. But if there is a temperature inversion aloft with rain falling into colder air, the serious hazard of freezing rain may exist. Monitor outside air temperature (and pilot reports), noting the height of the freezing level.
Departure delays or extra fuel stops required during the months of less daylight could result in a nighttime arrival at the destination. Carry flashlights—and take the seasonal opportunity to schedule the night training required to achieve your training goal!
Flight Training News
AOPA writer and student pilot Benét Wilson reviews five iPhone/iPad apps that she thinks may be helpful as part of the process of learning to fly. Among her recommendations: King Schools, Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course, Live ATC Radio, FAR/AIM, and X-Plane Flight Simulator for iPad. Read more >>
Alliance helps students prepare for STEM fields
Fly To Learn, Powered by X-Plane, and the Real World Design Challenge have teamed together to promote aviation engineering design opportunities to middle school and high school students, preparing them in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The Real World Design Challenge is a free national high school program that provides each teacher with $1 million in professional engineering software, mentors, webinars, teacher and student training, and curriculum materials to help prepare students in aeronautical engineering and design of surface transportation vehicles. Fly to Learn promotes STEM fundamentals in middle schools.
Real Pilot Story: Ambushed by ice
Pilot Dean Clark was on a flight he’d made hundreds of times, in an airplane he knew well, and there was no serious weather in the forecast. But that didn’t keep him from picking up enough ice to nearly bring down his Cessna 182. In the Air Safety Institute’s latest Real Pilot Story, you’ll hear him tell the gripping story of his unexpected struggle in ice-filled clouds—one that will make you think twice before taking any risks with ice this winter. Funding was made possible by the Donner Canadian Foundation and the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association’s Flight Safety Foundation. Watch it here >>
Avtrip offers $2,000 pilot scholarship
Not only can pilots earn rewards with Avfuel’s Avtrip program, but they also have the chance to win a $2,000 scholarship to use toward continuing education. This year’s $2,000 Avtrip scholarship was awarded to Taylor Ratliff, an aerospace administrations and operations, professional pilot major at Oklahoma State University.
The approach of winter promises colder temperatures, lower ceilings, and an increased risk of encountering icing conditions. But that doesn’t mean you cannot fly in this weather—you just have to be smart about it. Learn the skills necessary for safer flying in the coming season by visiting the Air Safety Institute’s Cold Weather Resources Safety Spotlight >>
AOPA offers medical resources
Have you applied for your FAA medical certificate? You’ll need to do so prior to your first solo flight if you’re going for your private pilot certificate. Getting the medical certificate can take some time if you hit a snag with the FAA. Take all the guesswork out of it by engaging AOPA’s medical resources. Among the services AOPA offers is a database to locate an FAA aviation medical examiner to perform the exam; specialized information reports on common medical conditions that crop up; and TurboMedical, an online interactive tool that guides you through the FAA medical application form. As an AOPA member, you can log on today or call a medical certification specialist for more personalized help at 800/USA-AOPA.
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.
Analysis: How the election affects GA
AOPA President Craig Fuller recorded a special edition of AOPA Live® offering post-election analysis and how it pertains to general aviation. Fuller spoke with Melissa Rudinger, senior vice president of government affairs; Greg Pecoraro, vice president of airports and state advocacy; and Lorraine Howerton, vice president of legislative affairs on what the election results mean for GA. Watch AOPA Live >>
American Air-Allied Pilots Association reach tentative deal
American Airlines and its Allied Pilots Association (APA) have reached an agreement in principle that is seen as the last obstacle for the company to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, reports USA Today . No details were released, but the contract now goes up for a vote by APA's board of directors.
University of Alaska Anchorage highlights aviation degree programs
The University of Alaska Anchorage’s aviation technology department offers four programs: air traffic control, professional piloting, aviation maintenance, and aviation administration. Each path offers certificates, associate’s degrees, and Bachelor of Science opportunities, reports Alaska Dispatch .
Horizon Air, pilots agree on six-year deal
Horizon Air and its pilots, represented by the Teamsters, have reached a tentative deal to extend the current contract for six years. A ratification vote is expected to be done by mid-December. If ratified, the new contract would become amendable on Dec. 14, 2018.
The arrival of a sleek bizjet at the home field is sure to draw onlookers. It may also produce a call for the resident plane spotter to check in and identify the T-tailed twinjet with its two engines mounted high on the rear fuselage, and winglets. As 12 occupants deplane, you inform the patrons of your plane-spotting practice that this made-in-Quebec marvel is a new Challenger 605 aircraft, made by Bombardier and the latest in the company's 600-series that has sent 850 aircraft skyward since the line began in 1978.
Are you starting to prepare to take the knowledge test for your private or light sport aircraft certificate? The FAA has a page that provides study tips, information on where you can take the test, a list of sample tests, and computer testing supplements.
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.
EA+ comes to the rescue after member accident in Laos
Many people are surprised at how costly a medical emergency can be, especially out of the country. That’s why programs such as AOPA Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+) are so important. A member who was hospitalized in Laos had $27,055 in costs covered by EA+. Individual plans start at only $89 a year. Read more >>
FAA application = FAA investigation
Student pilots applying for an FAA airman certificate or submitting an application for a medical certificate need to know that the FAA is “investigating” your qualifications. It makes sense to call the FAA’s review of your qualifications an investigation because the agency is checking the information you have provided and examining whether you are entitled to be granted the certificate or rating that you seek. Read more >>
A GIFT in Texas
The Flight Training blog profiles the ladies of Mary Latimer’s Girls in Flight Training (GIFT) Academy at Wilbarger County Airport in Vernon, Texas, as they learn to fly. Latimer came up with the idea of the all-woman GIFT camp in 2011. Attendees aren’t charged for flight training, housing, or food; they only pay for the avgas they use. Read more >>
Another kind of election night victory
AOPA President Craig Fuller uses his AOPA Now blog to release survey results that show voters were more aware of the importance of general aviation as part of the United States’ transportation system. It also found that more than half of voters aged 18 to 24 surveyed said they had a desire to fly in a private airplane. Read more >>
Off-airport (helicopter) landings
One of the big advantages of helicopters is the ability to land off airport. However, deciding where and when to land a helicopter deserves considerable thought as the consequences of a bad decision can be very serious, writes Tim McAdams in the Hover Power blog. He discusses what happened when a Bell 407 tried to land at a rave concert at the Nassau Coliseum. Read more >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an events coordinator; AOPA eastern regional manager; marketing coordinator; .NET applications developer; production assistant–Web; member services representative; manager, AOPA Flying Club Network; Web developer (eMedia); major gifts officer; and Web graphic designer. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER