It’s a source of real pleasure to realize that with your growing skill and knowledge has come a definite feel for your trainer, or for the several trainers in the flight school’s fleet. What one lacks in instrumentation and amenities it makes up for with the gutsy performance of its newly overhauled engine and the smoothness of that overhauled prop. From how the trainers respond when you ease back on the yoke, to how well they trim for hands-off cruise flight, each has a different personality that is revealed in flight.
The trainer you will fly solo today has always seemed to have a slightly slacker feel in its control column than the others—not surprising because it is the high-time member of the fleet. So it comes as a bit of a surprise when you arrive at the “flight controls free and correct” item on your pre-takeoff checklist, that the “free” part doesn’t pass muster. Something seems to be constraining the cable movement; it almost seems that there is less control travel available than before.
"It’s probably nothing, just my overactive imagination,” you say to yourself, sneaking a glance at the trainer’s N-number placard to confirm that this is the trainer known for less-than-taut controls.
“Maybe they finally replaced those old cables,” you think next, giving the control wheel another pull in hopes of putting your doubts aside.
Two other aircraft have joined you in the runup area. One of them is clearly ready to go, but you were first, and you have the easiest access to the runway.
Decision time! If you don’t fly today, it will be a week before you can go again. Then you go on vacation. Then your instructor goes on vacation.
The continuing uncertainty reminds you that, as the saying goes, “If you don’t know, don’t go.” If nothing else, taxiing back to investigate further or have a mechanic take a look should give you an answer. It’s not impossible that you have uncovered damage that occurred during a previous flight. Sometimes the walk-around inspection doesn’t catch everything, as this example illustrates. Pre-takeoff checks are another line of defense.
Congratulations for paying careful and undistracted attention to your pre-takeoff checklist. Whatever the outcome, this has already been a day of learning.
Flight Training News
Questions about loran, microwave landing systems, and direction finding would be more fitting for Barry Schiff’s popular “Test Pilot” trivia column in AOPA Pilot than on FAA knowledge exams. But students and pilots taking FAA knowledge exams are expected to know about and are tested on these outdated systems. Loran was turned off in 2010, few microwave landing systems ever became operational, and direction finding services are available only on a limited basis and only in Alaska. Read more >>
AOPA members offer five favorite apps
On Nov. 18, eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson wrote a column based on apps AOPA Facebook fans said they couldn’t live without. She wrote about more in her Feb. 26 column. AOPA members are passionate about the apps they love, so here are another five. Read more >>
DTC DUAT supports AOPA’s Flying Clubs Initiative
DTC DUAT, the popular weather and flight planning information service, has stepped forward to support AOPA’s core mission to protect the freedom to fly. As an AOPA Supporting Sponsor, DTC DUAT will lend financial support to AOPA’s Flying Clubs Initiative, a program to support and expand the more than 635 flying clubs nationwide that offer pilots and prospective pilots the opportunity to fly affordably in well-maintained aircraft. Read more >>
U of Maine-Augusta offers aviation bachelor’s degree
The University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) is enrolling students for its new bachelor of science degree in aviation for the fall 2013 semester. The program received initial approval in January and earned accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in April. Read more >>
Embry-Riddle lands top spot in safety competition
For the second year in a row, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Ariz., flight team has won the top spot at the Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (Safecon) sponsored by the National Intercollegiate Flying Association. The annual event puts collegiate flight teams to the test in a number of events, including navigation, power-off landing, short-field approach and landing, message drop, and aircraft recognition. Read more >>
We need your help to guide future pilots
Many people have a desire to fly, but very few of them become certificated pilots. AOPA is asking you to share your insight in the 2013 Flight Training Excellence Poll. Participate in the poll and share your recent training experience to identify flight training providers that will help budding pilots succeed and give the flying community the best chance to create lifelong passionate aviators. In this poll, you will have the opportunity to tell AOPA about a school and/or individual instructor. So, stand up and sound off for the future of aviation. Take the poll >>
By pilots, for pilots
Created by your fellow pilots, for use by other pilots, pilot reports (“pireps”) are a great source of real-time, in-flight weather information—available to both VFR and IFR flyers—that can give you a sneak peek at what may be ahead of you in your flight. Learn more about how to get, use, and give a proper pirep by taking the Air Safety Institute’s SkySpotter: Pireps Made Easy online course. Log in to take the course >>
It's been a long, tough road, but at last the big day has arrived: your private pilot checkride. How much thought have you given to the test itself? This Air Safety Institute quiz covers need-to-know information about the FAA Private Pilot Practical Test. Log in to take the quiz >>
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.
Tornado recovery, more on federal searches of GA aircraft
An FAA employee was among those lost in the devastating Oklahoma tornado, and the aviation community joins the nation in mourning, and contributing to the recovery. Also this week, AOPA has heard from more law-abiding pilots subjected to ramp checks and aircraft searches by Customs and Border Protection. The agency has declined to provide details of the practice. What constitutes “reasonable suspicion,” and how often law-abiding citizens are targeted remain open questions that AOPA continues to investigate. AOPA Live This Week also covers the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Geneva, including the first jet by Pilatus and a progress report on the HondaJet. And in the regular Fly Well segment, Dr. Jonathan Sackier discusses health checks and medical tests and offers advice on how to avoid letting health issues get ahead of you. AOPA Live This Week, May 23.
US Airways mechanics seek Teamsters representation
US Airways mechanics and related workers on May 7 filed for an election with the National Mediation Board as part of their campaign to become Teamsters. “We have seen what the Teamsters have achieved at other airlines, including United and Continental,” Ted Vallandingham, an inspector at US Airways in Pittsburgh and 29-year employee, said at a press conference. “We want a strong union backing us up so that we have a strong voice at work, at the bargaining table, and when we have to face off with management.” The company’s more than 4,000 mechanics and related workers launched a campaign to seek Teamsters representation in October 2012. The union said it also plans to file soon to represent mechanics at American Airlines; the two carriers are merging.
Boeing rolls out first Dreamliner at increased rate
Boeing recently rolled out of the factory the first 787 Dreamliner to be built at the increased production rate of seven airplanes per month. The airplane was the 114th 787 to be built overall and the 100th 787 built at the Everett, Wash., factory. Boeing said the 787 program, which appears to be recovering from a setback caused by a problem with onboard rechargeable batteries, is on track to achieve a planned 10-per-month production rate by year-end. To date, 50 Boeing 787s have been delivered to eight airlines; the program has more than 800 orders from 58 customers worldwide.
For more aviation career news, see the Flight Training website.
Plane spotters delight in making ready identifications while others are left scratching their heads, or even committing egregious errors of assessing an aircraft’s ancestry. Fortunately, plane spotters do some of their best work when eradicating such etymological errata. A common victim of misidentifications is Beechcraft’s Model 77. With two seats, a low wing, and a T-tail, this trainer has sometimes been casually called in as a Piper Tomahawk sighting. (Both are powered by Lycoming O-235 engines, as is the Cessna 152.) Known as the Beech Skipper, early versions had conventional tails.
Sporty’s unveils ForeFlight Mobile training course
Sporty's has a new 60-minute online training course on how to use ForeFlight Mobile, a popular app for pilots. It was created for prospective users, new ForeFlight pilots, and experienced pros alike. Lessons include starting a subscription, choosing the right route with route editor, keeping your digital charts up to date, learning the preflight iPad checklist you should use every time, and flying along on a real trip to see everything in action.
New edition of takeoffs, landings book to be released
Author Ron Fowler will release a newly combined edition of his previous two books, Making Perfect Takeoffs and Making Perfect Landings, on June 12. The new book, Making Perfect Takeoffs and Landings in Light Airplanes, shows pilots how to develop total awareness for the situation, the airplane, and the self—and to convert that awareness into perfect takeoffs and landings. The book costs $19.95.
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.
Pssst: We know what medications the FAA allows
The Pilot Information Center technical specialists receive many calls from members about specific medications and if they are allowed for flying. The FAA does not make available an “official” list of medications that are considered appropriate for aviation activities. But AOPA has one. The association started building the medication database more than 10 years ago, and through regular contact with the FAA and member feedback, has continued to expand the number of listed medications. Read more >>
Are you covered if a passenger is injured in your aircraft?
It’s no fun to consider, but let’s say you or one of your passengers suffers an injury while in your aircraft. Medical payments coverage pays the medical expenses for those injuries, including ambulance travel, surgical and dental services, professional nursing, and the like. It also covers injuries that occur to anyone entering or leaving your airplane. Read more >>
Can the first officer cancel the flight?
When it comes to air travel, one of the great misconceptions is the belief that a pilot will make a conscious decision to call his company and cancel a flight because of something that he decides makes it unsafe to fly. It almost never happens this way. Read more >>
Fit for flight
Every so often blogger Tim McAdams come across an accident that really makes him stop and think. Many of these can be a learning experience and some are just hard to understand. According to the NTSB, on July 22, 2010, a Eurocopter AS 350 B2 helicopter impacted trees near Kingfisher, Okla. The commercial pilot and one flight nurse were fatally injured and one paramedic flight nurse was seriously injured. Read more >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a director of corporate partnerships, marketing specialist, member services representative, human resources assistant, software test and quality assurance analyst, AOPA Live editor/graphic artist, advertising marketing manager, and aviation technical specialist. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
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