Your flight instructor has told you that you are “ready for prime time.” You heard the CFI say that once before, on the day of your first solo. What does it mean now as you work through the solo cross-country phase of training?
It means there’s no reason to limit your destinations to outlying airports where your comfort level is already pretty high. It’s time to plan a trip to a reasonably busy towered airport at a time when the activity level will let you experience arrival, departure, and some coordination with air traffic control under real-world conditions.
Do your destination homework and there won’t be any mystery. Take, for example, Asheville Regional Airport in mountainous western North Carolina. It’s the nucleus of a Class C airspace area; note the nonstandard airspace configuration and the nearby high terrain.
Checking out its listing in AOPA Airports produces an airport diagram, and reveals that there are several approach and departure procedures for those flights operating under instrument flight rules that you will hear on the radio. The listing shows that there are about 200 aircraft based at the airport, and that the facility has thousands of flight operations per year—important knowledge to have before heading to Asheville.
The sectional chart reminds you that frequencies for contacting radar approach control are assigned by sector. The airport/facility directory elaborates: "APP/DEP CON 124.65 (160º–339º) 125.8 (340º–159º) (1130–0400Z‡)." At other times Atlanta Center provides the service. Which sector will you be in when you make your initial call?
In addition to high traffic volume, many towered airports have peak periods not unlike morning and evening highway rush hours. A call to the destination fixed-base operator could fill you in on what's customary.
Even with so much activity, Asheville’s control tower is not “24/7.” When it is closed, the airspace defaults to Class G ( other airports in Class C airspace default to Class E). The tower should be open when you arrive in late morning, so you must establish two-way communications—from your altitude-encoding transponder-equipped trainer—before entering Class C airspace.
A final detail: Daylight saving time took effect March 10, so remember to adjust your conversion to or from Coordinated Universal Time appropriately.
Flight Training News
AOPA to FAA: Halt sequestration cuts targeting GA
AOPA is urging FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to halt cuts that will disproportionately affect the safety and integrity of general aviation operations. “The recommended cuts will have unacceptable consequences for the nation and the flying community,” AOPA President Craig Fuller said in a March 12 letter to Huerta. Read more >>
Cessna's new piston single makes first production flight
Able to cruise across the continental United States with a single fuel stop, climb to 25,000 feet, and deliver an expected top speed of 235 knots, the much-anticipated Cessna TT x (announced in 2011 as the Corvalis TT x) made its first production flight March 2. The new model was covered in detail in the September 2012 edition of AOPA Pilot. Read more >>
Hawaii considering state funding for aviation education
Hawaiian lawmakers are supporting legislation that sets the stage for creating collegiate aviation programs at the University of Hawaii, Hilo, and Hawaii Community College—with a significant and encouraging new model of increased state support for general aviation education. Read more >>
NC community college breaks ground on new training facility
North Carolina’s Guilford Technical Community College is opening a 41,000-square-foot Aviation III facility at Piedmont Triad International Airport to accommodate the program’s growing enrollment. The college already holds classes at two other facilities. The new facility is scheduled to open in spring 2014, with classes starting in August. The $10 million project was funded through a mix of bonds voters approved in 2008 and state funds.
HFI offers scholarships
The Helicopter Foundation International (HFI) named 18 recipients of scholarships for 2013 at the Helicopter Association International’s recent Heli-Expo convention. The scholarships were created in order to help foster the next generation of the helicopter industry. Applications are now open for HFI scholarships for 2014: up to four $5,000 grants for pilots seeking to earn their commercial helicopter rating; up to six $2,500 scholarships for students in helicopter maintenance technician programs; the Michelle North Scholarship for Safety, created to encourage a stronger focus on safety and safety education and training in helicopter operations; and the Bill Sanderson Aviation Maintenance Technician Scholarships, which allow recipients to attend airframe- or equipment-specific training courses and provide stipends of up to $1,600.
Elevate your flying passion
Maybe you’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a volunteer pilot. But what’s involved? Learn more with the Air Safety Institute’s Public Benefit Flying: Balancing Safety and Compassion online course. Produced with the generous support of Welles Murphey Jr., the Air Care Alliance and affiliated volunteer pilot groups, and the AOPA Foundation, the course prepares you for the incredibly rewarding experience of using your flying skills to help others. Take the course >>
Fly nice, without ice
A practical thought: If your aircraft has ice on it while on the ground, it will probably have ice on it while in the air. Having the surface of your wings contaminated by snow, frost, and ice disrupts airflow over them, and creates numerous problems in flight. Learn a few simple steps that will help you prevent this by reading the Air Safety Institute’s Cold Facts: Wing Contamination Safety Brief. Read more >>
Extra-careful preflight is required for night flying: organizing the cockpit (including making sure you have flashlights and plenty of fresh batteries to power them), choosing checkpoints, and pondering emergency situations. The challenges are greater, but so are the rewards. The special skills of night flying can only be acquired and maintained by taking frequent night flights. See AOPA’s aviation subject report and the Air Safety Institute’s Safety Hot Spot on night flying for more information.
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.
Highlights from AOPA Live
AOPA unveils a new job board that allows for free postings of and searches for aviation-related jobs. And stare down the spin with AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman; step by step, he walks you through how to handle them.
Alaska Air Group employees earn bonuses of $88 million
Alaska Air Group paid annual bonuses of about 8 percent of annual pay to nearly 13,000 employees Feb. 27 “for exceeding the company‘s 2012 operational and financial goals.” The bonus, which totals almost a month’s pay, the company said, is in addition to an average of $1,100 in bonuses that each employee earned last year for achieving monthly on-time and customer satisfaction targets. Monthly and annual bonuses combined to equal nearly $88 million. “We’re pleased to share the company’s financial success with our amazing employees at Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air,” Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said. “Their teamwork and dedication to our customers are at the heart of our success.”
Hawaiian flight attendants approve narrow-body jets
Hawaiian Airlines has reached an agreement with its flight attendants that will allow the carrier to operate the Airbus A321neo. Hawaiian signed a deal for 16 orders and nine options on the aircraft. The airline signed a similar deal with the Air Line Pilots Association in January. The aircraft are scheduled for delivery between 2017 and 2020.
ExpressJet joins Cape Air in JetBlue gateway program
Atlanta-based ExpressJet Airlines has become the latest carrier to join the University Gateway Program, a four-way collaboration with JetBlue Airways, Cape Air, the University of North Dakota, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The program helps facilitate the early entry of pilots from Aviation Accreditation Board International programs into Cape Air, where they further hone their skills. After gaining their captain’s credentials, pilots can choose to interview with ExpressJet, eventually leading to a final interview with JetBlue after gaining their necessary hours.
Boeing announces consolidated flight facilities
Boeing has announced it is consolidating flight training capabilities in North America—including Boeing 787 flight and maintenance training—at the Boeing Flight Services training campus in Miami. The company plans to relocate all full-flight simulators and other devices from Seattle to Miami, starting with two Boeing 787 training suites.
For more aviation career news, see the Flight Training website.
You landed at an airport with an unusually long runway, allowing time for a four-engine jet as large as an airliner, but plainly military, to depart. Another one taxis out—and you notice the unusual appendage at its tail. No need to snap photos and text your home airport’s plane spotter. Anybody here can explain: These are KC-135 Stratotankers, a development of Boeing’s 707 and the 322,500-pound workhorse of air-to-air refueling. (That's the refueling boom at the tail.) Some converted military airports now host Air National Guard refueling wings.
Learn radio communications with app
Sporty’s VFR Communications iPhone/iPad Aviation App helps student pilots sound like seasoned pros. The app uses a visual menu system to break down VFR communications into eight subject areas and 23 individual video segments. It contains more than 60 minutes of engaging 3-D animations, in-flight video, and real-world communication scenarios. The app costs $24.99.
Flight maneuvers guide available as e-book
AircraftSpruce.com has made available an e-book, Private Pilot Flight Maneuvers . The e-book helps in the explanation, visualization, and execution of the flight maneuvers required for the private pilot practical test. The e-book costs $16.95.
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.
What do I need to log?
Someone asked Kathy Yodice, an attorney and counsel to AOPA, about choosing a logbook. She looked around for the types of logbooks that were available and quickly became overwhelmed with the possibilities. There are logbooks with hard covers and with soft covers, pocket-size and notebook size, custom-made, every color imaginable, the bare minimum of columns and too many columns, pre-printed endorsements, and on and on the choices go. Read more >>
February ‘Since You Asked’ poll: 55 hours, no solo
Whenever Flight Training Technical Editor Jill Tallman hears about people who log 30 or more hours just to get to solo, it hurts her heart a little. Flying isn’t cheap, and the more time that Hobbs meter racks up, the more a student must be looking at his or her bank balance and starting to wonder, “Why am I doing this again?” Rod Machado has noted a trend in which student solos seem to be taking longer, and it’s not always attributable to the usual reasons. In his February 2013 “Since You Asked” (“Forever to solo”), a student pilot whose frustration practically leaked out onto the page asked for advice. Read more >>
‘Pilot Getaways’ iPad app
Pilot Getaways, a travel and destination publication that features great fly-in destinations, has a new iPad that shows the current issue of the bimonthly magazine and offers back issues for sale. Read more >>
Colorado Pilots Association seeks scholarship applicants
The Colorado Pilots Association (CPA) is accepting applications for its annual scholarship program, which awards $2,000 scholarships to Colorado high school graduates interested in pursuing an aviation related career. Applications are due May 15. Read more >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a director, financial planning and analysis; office services supervisor; major gifts officer; and director of outreach and events. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER