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New online Pilot Information Center launchesNew online Pilot Information Center launches

Platform replaces, enhances AOPA Hangar

Ask just about any aviation-related  question, and AOPA will have an answer and resources for you.
Membership News & Notes March 2020

Now, you can get those answers easily through our online Pilot Information Center, a digital question-and-answer platform that replaces the AOPA Hangar. The Pilot Information Center keeps everything from the AOPA Hangar—dashboard, members area, groups, events, and marketplace—and it enhances the discussion area. AOPA Hangar users can use their existing login. Members who haven’t used the platform can log in to the Pilot Information Center with their username and password.

The question-and-answer discussion area is similar to Quora, a popular online platform for people to ask questions and share insights and knowledge, and will allow you to submit your own questions or browse popular categories of questions from other pilots and see the answers and resources that AOPA’s experts provided.

You’ll interact with the experienced staff in our Pilot Information Center—the folks you currently call, chat with online, or email—as well as other AOPA subject matter experts and editors.

You will also be able to connect with other pilots by contributing answers and resources, and voting questions and answers up and down based on how much the information helped you.

Popular discussion categories focus on flight training, aircraft and equipment, legal and insurance, medical, ratings and certificates, drones, and air safety.

“We are happy to announce our transition from the AOPA Hangar to the Pilot Information Center to better serve you—our pilot community,” said Tom Zecha, AOPA senior manager of the Pilot Information Center. “We invite you to ask questions, contribute answers, earn badges, and join our growing pilot community online.”


Tips from PIC

An experimental aircraft in a flying club

By Patrick Timmerman

We occasionally get calls, emails, or chats about operating an experimental amateur-built aircraft in a flying club. Is it possible to operate something like a Zenith 750, Vans RV–6, or Sonex Waiex-B in a flying club? For an aircraft certified as experimental amateur-built, the answer is yes. And if building one is in the cards, it is also a great way to foster camaraderie among club members while educating and promoting building skills.

FAR 91.319 governs the operating limitations of aircraft having experimental certificates. It is here that you’ll find the wording about “no person may operate an aircraft that has an experimental certificate…carrying persons or property for hire.” You’ll also find it in the operating limitations document for the aircraft. A flying club member will be paying some amount to operate the aircraft; however, the money will go into the club for maintenance, engine reserves, and other expenses. No one is being compensated for the use of the aircraft. Also, a flight instructor can be compensated in the aircraft. The flight instructor is merely being paid for his or her time, not for the operation of the aircraft.

Since experimental amateur-built aircraft are a bit outside the box when it comes to club aircraft, you might want to loop in your insurance provider early in any discussions about adding such an aircraft to the club fleet. It can be done; it might just take a bit of added effort. Most clubs have found the benefits outweigh the additional work.

Questions? Call AOPA Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time, at 800-USA-AOPA, email pilotassist, or go to

Patrick Timmerman is an AOPA senior aviation technical specialist.

AOPA Air Safety Institute

Have a seat, shut the door

Go beyond the basic passenger brief

By Alicia Herron

Regular passengers run the gamut from competent crew to backseat-flying distractions—and you may have already created your own no-fly list after a negative experience. But first-time passengers are full of potential and represent an opportunity to introduce someone to the world of general aviation. To get flights like those started on the right foot, begin with a quality briefing.

It takes immense trust to be a passenger. If you want someone to fly with you more than once, make their first flight a positive experience that’s memorable for all the right reasons. Be patient and don’t make assumptions about what nonpilots do or do not know. We’re used to small airplanes, but something as seemingly simple as a GA seatbelt can be daunting to a first-time flier. Getting in and out of the airplane—a task you probably do without thinking or have practiced excessively—may require a detailed demonstration. Set aside time before yelling “clear!” to make sure you give a solid briefing and allow time for questions. Waiting until after engine start is too late—the time and money pressure of a running Hobbs can lead to a rushed delivery of vital information.

Advise your passengers not to talk during radio communications. Even fellow aviators can have trouble with this one, so anticipate asking for silence. Consider using sterile cockpit procedures until a certain altitude and during high-workload phases of flight such as takeoff and landing. Remember, the Isolate button is your friend, and it exists to be used.

You may think that teaching your passengers about what to do in an emergency will frighten them, but they’re more likely to be impressed by your concern for their safety. Knowing what to do “just in case” will be a comfort. And of course, if something unexpected does happen, it is in everyone’s best interest that they’re familiar with what to do.

Check in on them throughout the journey: after start-up, before takeoff, and in flight. Even the most resilient and adventurous among us can have a change of heart. Be understanding and prepare yourself for the idea that you might have to cut the trip short. This is a great reason to make a first flight local—save the cross-country for later.

Don’t deliberately frighten your passengers—feeling true fear in the air will keep someone from ever flying with you again. Save stalls for solo practice or dual instruction, and use gentle, coordinated turns. Let them know before you reduce power—to the uninitiated, the sound of lower rpm midflight might sound like an engine failure.

Added stress aside, flying with passengers can be highly rewarding. How often do we get to introduce someone to something totally new? And just think: If your passengers like the flight, they might become pilots, too.

For more tips on giving a thorough passenger briefing, watch this ASI video.


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Looking forward to spring

Membership News & Notes March 2020@rosski715
making the most out of Winter flying in the Midwest.

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AOPA’s Pilot Passport: Spring challenges

Membership News & Notes March 2020Spring is here! Are you ready to get flying again? Then you’ll enjoy the new challenges designed for March and April flying fun.

The March Madness Challenge will award the three participants with the most points checking into the states of the 11 NCAA men’s basketball tournament locations: California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Washington. Double points are earned only in these states. The prize is a Sporty’s Complete Instrument Rating Online and App Course ($249 value).

Our April Thaw Challenge—the come-out-of-hibernation challenge—will award the three participants with the most airport check-ins. The prize is noise-canceling Bluetooth stereo headsets provided by Jeppesen.

The AOPA Pilot Passport Program on the AOPA app encourages pilots to check in at different types of airports, land at airports across your state, visit airports and aviation events across the country, and share your experience by rating the airport, uploading a photo, and posting a comment on social media (use #AOPAPilotPassport in your posts).


Post of the month

Membership News & Notes March 2020Flying to Catalina Island

When plans come together. #flywithaopa


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Membership News & Notes March 2020

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Membership News & Notes March 2020

CBD oil: FAA zero-tolerance policy

Don’t put your certificate at risk

By Ian Arendt

If you are a user of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, Federal Air Surgeon Michael A. Berry has a warning for you: “Use of CBD oil is not accepted as an affirmative defense against a positive drug test.”

Despite its legalization in some states, only one CBD product has been approved for medicinal use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat rare forms of epilepsy, and it requires a prescription. No commercially available CBD oil has been approved for use by the FDA; therefore, commercially available CBD oil is not subject to the same quality control standards as other FDA-approved substances.

Since it is not subject to FDA quality control, commercially available CBD oil may contain other substances inconsistent with its labeling, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the compound responsible for marijuana’s euphoric and mind-altering effects. Pilots should be aware that FAA-required drug tests routinely check for the presence of THC. Therefore, pilots utilizing commercially available CBD oil are at risk of testing positive for THC (or other prohibited substances) and may be putting their medical and airmen certificates at risk.

The federal air surgeon clarified that the FAA will not consider the use of commercially available CBD oil as a defense against a positive drug test. If you have tested positive on an FAA drug test, call the AOPA Legal Services Plan at 800-872-2672.

Ian Arendt is an in-house attorney for the AOPA legal services plan.


The annual meeting of the members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association will be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 21, 2020, at the headquarters of AOPA, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland, 21701, located on 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 1-800-872-2672. —Justine A. Harrison, Secretary

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