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June 6, 2014, AOPA ePilot: Flight Training EditionJune 6, 2014, AOPA ePilot: Flight Training Edition

ePilot Flight Training Edition

June 6, 2014 - VOL 14, ISSUE 23

Training Tips

Volatile virga

Clouds and visibility are two of a student pilot's most important considerations when assessing preflight weather information. It's likely, when you first began to fly solo, that your instructor placed limitations on your solo flying ensuring that you only flew in weather much more favorable than the basic minimums prescribed for visual flight rules.

Wind speed, current and forecast—both the total wind, and a maximum crosswind component—is another customary limitation on student solos.

What about precipitation? Precip isn't automatically grounds to cancel a VFR flight—but various cautions apply. Precip that signals the early arrival of nasty frontal weather should be seen as a warning that conditions are deteriorating faster than expected; reschedule your flight. Thunderstorms that develop during a flight must be given the widest of berths by any pilot in any aircraft.

On the other hand, light rain falling from a high overcast, with, say, 10 miles visibility, consistent with a forecast expected to improve or remain unchanged, may not ground a local-area solo flight or a dual cross-country (but watch out for fog that could form with any convergence of the temperature and dewpoint).

Suppose you are flying your cross-country route and spot ahead in the distance a shaft of rain that seems to trail off without reaching the ground. This you may recognize as virga, described as "rain that falls through the atmosphere but evaporates prior to striking the ground" in Chapter 11 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.

Virga can be picturesque to behold, but don't let its benign appearance breed complacency. A National Weather Service glossary entry on virga resembles the one cited above—but goes on to note that, "In certain cases, shafts of virga may precede a microburst."

Virga's volatility occurs because "the evaporating rain cools the surrounding air, making it like a cold-air balloon that plunges toward the ground," explained meteorologist Jack Williams in Flight Training magazine's "The Weather Never Sleeps" column.

That makes flight beneath virga a bad decision, "especially when close to the ground taking off or landing."

Even if conditions don't rise to the hazard of a dry microburst—mostly a western phenomenon, Williams noted—the vertical and horizontal turbulence produced by that "cold-air balloon" would present a rude surprise to an unwary pilot.

Flight Training News

Kansas State receives donated simulator

Kansas State University Salina aviation students now have access to a Frasca Mentor flight simulator donated by Yingling Aviation. The Frasca Mentor simulates a Cessna 172S with Garmin G1000 avionics and a GFC 700 autopilot. Yingling used the simulator for six years until it decided to discontinue its flight instruction program.


Air Safety Institute Storm Week

Storm Week around the corner

Safely circumnavigate threatening weather this convective season with the Air Safety Institute's Storm Week, which returns June 8 through 14. Join AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg and datalink expert Dr. David Strahle in the "Datalink: Cockpit Weather Do's and Don'ts" live webinar June 11 at 7 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time for important safety considerations when flying with cockpit weather. See what's in store and register for the live webinar...  


NASA chooses International Space Apps Challenge winners

NASA has chosen five winners of its 2014 International Space Apps Challenge, created to spark innovation for possible use on future space missions. The competition took place at 95 locations around the world, with more than 8,000 participants developing software, hardware, data visualizations, and mobile or Web apps.



Indy Fly-In builds dreams

Thanks to perfect weather—clear skies, temperatures in the 80s, and a light breeze—more than 2,000 attended AOPA's Indianapolis Fly-In, including 160 volunteers. Some 475 aircraft flew in to Indianapolis Regional, and more than 60 to Indianapolis Metropolitan, the designated reliever. Attendees included current pilots, aspiring pilots, and lapsed pilots looking for a second chance. Read more...  


Apps of the week

Chart apps for planning, navigating

Five chart apps are ready to supplement paper products. Read more...  


Flash-based, login required

Going on vacation with eAPIS

Do your vacation plans include flying your aircraft internationally into or out of the United States? Don't forget to submit passenger and crew manifests electronically at least 60 minutes before departure, using the electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS). Rusty on the process? Take the course...



AOPA highlights aviation scholarships, recipients

AOPA offers a list of the latest flight training scholarships, along with profiles of scholarship winners. Read more...  

Training Resources


Airspace for everyone

This publication examines the airspace structure and how pilots are expected (and required) to operate within it. Can you define all six airspace classes? Do you know the differences between controlled and uncontrolled airspace? You'll find the answers to these and other airspace questions in the Air Safety Institute's Airspace for Everyone Safety Advisor. Download it now...

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.


AOPA Live This Week

Super Cub No. 1 comeback, best of AOPA's Indy Fly-In

A father-son team brings the first Super Cub off the assembly line back to its full yellow glory; see the best of AOPA's recent Indianapolis Fly-In; and learn how to protect your eyes from a laser strike. AOPA Live This Week®, June 5...  

Career Pilot

Etihad creates training center for pilots

Etihad Airways has created the Etihad Flight College, a new facility that will train Emirati and international cadet pilots. The United Arab Emirates-based carrier is acquiring Horizon International Flight Academy, which currently has 210 trainees and has trained Etihad pilots for seven years.


American accepts first CRJ900 NextGen jet

American Airlines has taken delivery of its first new Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen aircraft, Frequent Business Traveler reported. The new aircraft, unveiled May 20 at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, is the first of 30 new Bombardier jets that the carrier ordered in December; the transaction included options for another 40 CRJ900 NextGen jets. The new model burns as much as 5.5 percent less fuel than older CRJ900s.

For more aviation career news, see the Flight Training website.

Plane Spotter

A sporting endeavor

If there is an airplane symbol that includes a diamond-shaped box enclosing the letter U next to an airport icon on a sectional chart, that airport may provide an opportunity for plane spotters to add ultralight aircraft, or those of the light sport aircraft category, to one's spotting repertoire. As for possible sightings: From kit-built one-seaters to factory-made, enclosed-cockpit, tandem two-seat models driven by a pusher propeller, more than 15,000 aircraft of the Temecula, Calif.-based Quicksilver Aircraft line have taken pilots aloft since production began in the 1970s.

Training Products

Sport pilot course offered by King Schools

King Schools is offering its Sport Pilot Written & Checkride Combo on DVD. The combination includes an interactive video ground school and test prep course, and the Sport Pilot Practical Test Course (oral exam and flight test). The cost is $398.


Learn to fly helicopters with Aircraft Spruce e-book

The Learning to Fly Helicopters e-book covers information a student needs to know to become a safe and efficient helicopter pilot. Items covered include principles of rotary wing aerodynamics; explanations of what the cockpit controls do and how to use them; and what students can expect to see, hear, and feel on their first flight. The cost is $20.80.

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.

Member Benefits

Member benefits

Don't let out-of-pocket costs get out of hand

If you rent or borrow an aircraft and are counting on the fixed-base operator or owner's insurance policy to cover you in the case of an incident, you may want to consider your obligations. You may be responsible for paying a deductible. Read more...  


Members only

Hearing loss and your medical

The hearing medical standard for all classes of medical certification requires that the airman be able to pass one of three different hearing tests. One is the conversational voice test. Read more...  


So long, Neil

A tireless advocate for general aviation departed the United States to go back to the United Kingdom. Read more...  



Ghosts, GA, and more affected by airline pilot shortage

Opinion Leaders blogger Amy Laboda admits she's a "ghost pilot," someone qualified to fly for the airlines but unwilling to do so for $15 per hour. Would paying regional airline pilots more solve the problem, or would it take an act of Congress to force exceptions to the new airline transport pilot training rule? Share your thoughts...  

Instrument Tip


'Let the adrenaline subside'

Technology in the cockpit is only as good as the pilot operating it. Are you managing your avionics, or letting the technology manage you? Read more...  

Final Exam


I had my last third class medical exam in June 2011. At the time I was 38, but turned 40 years old a few months ago. Do I need to get a new medical certificate in June 2014 or June 2016?


You need to get a new medical certificate by the end of June 2016. FAR 61.23(d) makes the provision that if a pilot is under the age of 40 at the date of examination for his or her most recent medical, then the certificate is valid for 60 calendar months. (Source: Code of Federal Regulations.)

Got a question for our technical services staff? Contact AOPA.

Career Opportunities

Aviation job board

Job of the week: Flight coordinator at LightHawk

LightHawk is seeking an enthusiastic flight coordinator to provide logistical and technical support for its environmental aviation program in the Rockies region. It is a full-time, home-based position with benefits. This job is about implementing and managing flight logistics and resources in support of environmental campaigns, tracking key data for analysis of program outcomes, and providing support for LightHawk's volunteer pilot recruitment and retention efforts. Learn more or apply now.


AOPA career opportunities

Join the AOPA team

Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We're looking for an Air Safety Institute intern, aircraft analyst I, member services representative, major gift officer, AOPA Live producer/videographer I, executive assistant for government affairs, and account manager II. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.

Education and Seminars

Flight Instructor Refresher Courses

June 7-8 - Santa Clara, Calif.; and Ashburn, Va.

June 21-22 - Charlotte, N.C.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Orlando, Fla.

June 28-29 - Columbus, Ohio; and Phoenix, Ariz.

July 12-13 - Memphis, Tenn.; and Pittsburgh, Pa.

For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online. Can't make it in person? Sign up for the Air Safety Institute's new Online eFIRC.

Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars

June 21 - Loveland, Colo.

June 28 - Groton, Conn.

July 31 - Oshkosh, Wis.

Aug 1 - Oshkosh, Wis.

Aug 2 - Oshkosh, Wis.

Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

Rusty Pilot Seminars

June 7 - Cortland, N.Y.; Riverside, Calif.; Watkins, Colo.; Southbridge, Mass.; Aurora, Ore.; and Fredericksburg, Va.

June 14 - Portage Des Sioux, Mo.; Cleveland, Tenn.; and Gaithersburg, Md.

June 19 - Lembertville, Mich.

June 20 - Lititz, Pa.

For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

Aviation Calendar

Want something to do this weekend? Planning an aviation getaway? See AOPA's enhanced calendar of events. Now you can filter events by date range, airport ID, state, or region. Before you take off on an adventure, make sure you check our current aviation weather provided by Jeppesen.

To include an event or to search all events in the calendar, visit AOPA Online. For airport details, including FBO fuel prices, see AOPA Airports.

AOPA Featured Events

Jul 12 — Plymouth, Massachusetts. Plymouth Airport (KPYM). AOPA Fly-In.


Aug 16 — Spokane, Washington. Spokane Felts Field (KSFF). AOPA Fly-In.


Sep 20 — Chino, California. Chino Airport (KCNO). AOPA Fly-In.


Oct 4 — Frederick, Maryland. Frederick Municipal Airport (KFDK). AOPA Homecoming.


Nov 8 — Brunswick, Georgia. Malcom McKinnon Airport (KSSI). AOPA Fly-In.

Picture Perfect

AOPA's online photo gallery allows you to upload your own aviation photography as well as view, rate, and comment on others' photos. Take a look, and submit your own photos!

AOPA ePilot

ePilot Flight Training Editor:

Benét Wilson

Production Assistant:

Melissa Whitehouse


Sarah Deener
Alyssa Miller
Jim Moore
Jill W. Tallman
Warren Morningstar
Alton K. Marsh
Dave Hirschman
Tom Horne
Ian J. Twombly
Dan Namowitz

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