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You Can Fly: Teachers descend, aviation ascends

By Julie Summers Walker

AOPA hosts ninth-grade curriculum workshop

MNN September

They launched homemade balloons, designed their own wind tunnels, and set off rockets. More than 60 teachers from high schools across the country participated in the AOPA High School Aviation Curriculum Ninth Grade Workshop at the You Can Fly Academy in Frederick, Maryland. For three days, these instructors learned and practiced the curriculum prepared by the You Can Fly team for students as part of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs.

“This is designed to expose teachers to all sides of aviation,” said Cindy Hasselbring, director of the AOPA high school initiative. “We tell them: You can focus on teaching; we’ve done the curriculum.”

AOPA’s ninth-grade curriculum shows students three career and technical education pathways to aviation: pilot, unmanned aircraft systems, and aerospace engineering.

Most of the teachers had no aviation background—like most of their students—so the curriculum and the preparation for teaching it is basic. In the section “Introduction to Flight,” the curriculum included making hot air balloons. Remembering that teachers have limited budgets, the You Can Fly team prepared the lesson plan with rudimentary equipment: Tissue paper, masking tape, glue sticks, and duct tape were the makings of the balloon; a small camp stove and metal heating duct created the heat. The competition was fierce as teachers created their balloons and then held them over the heating duct. Whose would tap the ceiling first? Cheers for the winners and a desire to go back to the drawing board were the result.

“It’s important to teach the strategy,” said You Can Fly Senior Director of Flight Training Education Chris Moser. “There’s a great value in doing it before you teach it.”

Mooney owner Jonas de Leon is an educator in New York City at Gregorio Luperon High School. A pilot since 1993, de Leon knew the science of aviation could benefit his students but wanted to convince his school system. “Aviation is my passion,” he said. “It is another entry point for our students to become excited about STEM programs.”

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DETAILS: 637,000 new pilots will be needed in the world by 2036, according to Boeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook.

Member Services


Life is short, buy the airplane

One tip for all buyers

By Jim Pinegar

I remember when I decided to purchase my first airplane. Quite frankly, I was scared to death with all the possibilities and what seemed like a never-ending list of “to-dos.” Thank goodness for all the resources AOPA provides, covering topics such as prebuy inspections, nuances of certain makes and models, and expected performance specs. But when it comes to insurance, when I’m asked what’s one important tip—well, that’s easy: Ask for an insurance quote before you sign a contract.

Why, you might ask? When I was shopping, I found a fantastic deal on a retractable-gear airplane. Luckily, I called the insurance agency and had a conversation that gave me the information I needed to make a decision. At that time, I had just finished my private ticket and flown less than 45 hours, and of course zero hours in a retractable. Because of my inexperience, the insurance on a retractable was nearly triple that of the nice Cessna 172 I later purchased.

Additionally, some aircraft are very hard to insure unless they are flown by very experienced pilots. Making a quick 10-minute call can give you crucial information needed for your next purchase.

Knowing the expected annual insurance costs not only helps with budgeting, but also allowed me to choose the aircraft suited for my needs. Best of all, spend the insurance savings on something more fun—fuel for flying!

Whether you own or rent, AOPA has the right insurance coverage to fit your budget and needs. The AOPA Insurance Agency offers knowledgeable agents who speak your language and understand your unique flying and insurance requirements.

Jim Pinegar is vice president of finance and administration for AOPA Insurance Services.


Parachutes not required

Regardless of the certificate or rating being sought

By Chad Mayer

Parachutes are required by FAR Part 91.307(c) for maneuvers exceeding 60 degrees of bank or 30 degrees nose-up or nose-down attitude, unless an exception applies. FAR 91.307(d)(2) states that the above does not apply to “spins and other flight maneuvers required by the regulations for any certificate or rating when given by “(i) A certificated flight instructor.” The question is, does this exception to the parachute requirement apply only when training for a certificate that requires spins, such as the flight instructor certificate?

The FAA’s office of the chief counsel recently addressed this question in the Fitzpatrick-Spartan College interpretation. The interpretation acknowledged that there is some ambiguity in the language, stating “[s]ome parties have interpreted this subsection to mean that unless the certificate or rating being sought requires spin training, a parachute is required.” Relying on the express language of the original 1964 rulemaking in addition to the text of the regulation itself, the interpretation reaches the conclusion that regardless of the certificate or rating currently sought, parachutes are not required for spin training given by a CFI because spin training is required for at least one certificate. The flight school raised the question because it holds dual certification with the FAA as a Part 141 operation and with the Civil Aviation Administration of China which, unlike the FAA, requires spin training for commercial pilots. The spin training was included in the school’s FAA-approved training curriculum for commercial pilots, and the school’s request for the legal interpretation specifically referenced spin training as part of its Part 141 flight training operations. However, there is no language in the FAA’s interpretation limiting the resulting guidance to Part 141 operations, so on its face it appears to apply equally to training under Part 61 and Part 141.

Chad Mayer is an in-house attorney with AOPA’s Legal Services Plan who counsels plan members daily. He is a commercial pilot, a remote pilot with sUAS rating, and an advanced/instrument ground instructor.


Navigating today’s airspace

Clear the air on restrictions, prohibitions, and how ATC fits in

By Machteld Smith

You plan a flight, enter it in the GPS, activate the flight plan, and away you go. Easy. Sometimes it can be like that. But things get more complicated when a temporary flight restriction pops up or your GPS’s magenta line traverses special-use airspace. Now you have to think about avoiding prohibited airspace and other areas through which you may not be cleared or where you don’t want to go.

It can be daunting for any pilot to understand today’s various airspace intricacies. For example, can you fly through special-use airspace or traverse a TFR’s outer ring when on an instrument flight plan? If you struggle with questions or simply need to brush up on planning a flight across ATC boundaries and through complex airspace, the AOPA Air Safety Institute can help.

ASI’s Know Before You Go: Navigating Today’s Airspace online course offers a practical approach to navigating the National Airspace System. The free course will help you tackle airspace regulations and stay out of trouble when flying from point A to point B. You’ll be prepared to go once you learn what’s special about special-use airspace, understand boundaries of restricted and prohibited areas, and know how to work around TFRs. The course makes it easy to become an ace at performing a preflight briefing and route planning that counts. Don’t wait—brush up and go fly.


Machteld Smith is an aviation technical writer for the AOPA Air Safety Institute.

Pilot Information Center

Tips from PIC

Exposing youth to aviation

By Jon Gandy

Recently I took my 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter to see Fifi, one of the two B–29 Superfortress aircraft still flying. My daughter is always happy to see an airplane, but being in one is the best thing ever. As I lifted her down from the aircraft, she let everyone know loudly how disappointed she was that she wasn’t going for a ride. In spite of her tears, my wife and I continue to expose her to airplanes, taking her flying with us when possible.

In today’s world of airport fences and security codes, access to aviation has never been further from the public. As pilots, we can do our part to bridge the gap and welcome young aviators to the flying world. Recently a few AOPA staff members discussed how best to reach a younger generation of future aviators. We all shared the moment that got us hooked on flying, and the overwhelming majority had some regular or significant exposure to aviation in their youth.

AOPA’s High School Aviation Initiative through the You Can Fly program has developed an aviation curriculum for teachers to use in their classes. Approximately 75 schools are anticipated to use the curriculum beginning with the 2018-19 school year. AOPA has other youth outreaches, as well: The free AV8RS membership for youth ages 13 to 18 interested in the world of flight, and the free six-month trial membership for student pilots of all ages, which includes Flight Training magazine.

Want to know more? Give us a call Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672).

Jon Gandy is an aviation specialist in the AOPA Pilot Information Center.


Mexico now requires 406 MHz ELTs

By Kathleen Dondzila King

For many years, Mexico and Canada have extended the compliance date for their mandates requiring aircraft to be equipped with 406 MHz emergency locator transmitters. Mexico is the first to end the extension, and mandated aircraft equipage as of July 1, 2018. AOPA has been advised that airport officials in Mexico may perform ramp checks on arriving aircraft to confirm compliance with the new equipage mandate. This mandate applies to piston-powered, privately owned aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of less than 12,566 pounds.

Having the right equipment on board is just one element of preparing to enjoy Mexico’s beautiful and historic sights. AOPA’s online travel resources include information on required documents, permits, licenses, and certificates—for the airman, passengers, and aircraft—when flying to Mexico.

The webpage also includes other important information: on verifying insurance coverage in Mexico and suggested liability limits; a link to obtain Customs and Border Protection’s required annual user fee decal; and instructions for using eAPIS, CBP’s Electronic Advance Passenger Information System, which all pilots flying across the U.S. border to a foreign destination are required to use. Mexico has also implemented APIS procedures.

If you have questions, please call AOPA, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time, at 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672).

Kathleen Dondzila King is AOPA technical communications manager and an instrument-rated private pilot.

The annual meeting of the members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association will be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, September 6, 2018, at the headquarters of AOPA, 411 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland, 21701, located on the Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK), for the purpose of receiving reports and transacting such other business as may properly come before the meeting, specifically including the election of trustees. If you are not able to attend, but would like to appoint your voting proxy, please visit or call 800-872-2672. —Kenneth M. Mead, secretary

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