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Training Tip: 'P-line' aheadTraining Tip: 'P-line' ahead

A student pilot on a first solo cross-country is preparing to land at the destination. The final approach to the long paved runway is on target and well stabilized, as confirmed by the runway’s precision approach path indicator.

Pilots can easily miss important information buried in airport remarks such as the powerlines crossing the final approach to runway 36 at Waterbury-Oxford airport in Connecticut. Image courtesy of the FAA.

The student pilot, however, is unnerved by a set of transmission lines mounted on 50-foot-high towers running across the final approach course. The distraction is only momentary—as other indications are that the approach is going fine—but the trainee makes a mental note to check whether the obstacle’s hard-to-miss presence was somehow overlooked during preflight planning.

Back home after flying, it is gratifying to savor the thrills of the flight, but it also is beneficial to augment the experience by writing down and looking up questions that likely arose—some to be answered by your instructor; others to be researched yourself. For example, it is enlightening to compare the in-flight weather you experienced to the forecast you received before takeoff.

As for that surprise on final approach, did the airport’s published information contain a clue that might have been overlooked?

It’s possible. For example, check out the item tersely tucked away at the end of a line of information in the chart supplement about Connecticut’s Waterbury-Oxford Airport: “RWY 36: REIL. PAPI(P4L)—GA 3.0º TCH 56´. Thld dsplcd 500´. P–line.” An accompanying diagram partially sketches in the obstacle, a power line.

In addition to the reference to the “P-line,” that coded line of data contains many details about Runway 36, including the displaced thresholds at both ends and the important fact that Runway 36 is the calm wind runway for the 726-foot field-elevation airport.

There is another reference to the obstacle in an entry in the airport remarks section of the listing: “748´ electric transmission twrs running NE to SW 0.2 miles north of middle marker.” A middle marker is a component of some instrument approaches; a student pilot researching an airport who is unaware of that fact will have learned something important about how to review important information that may appear in official publications.

Bottom line: An important tidbit about an unfamiliar airport can be easy to miss, so give the published data a careful read during flight prep. After flying, track down answers to the questions that arose, making yourself a better-prepared pilot on your very next outing.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: FAA publications, Student, Cross Country
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