Pressure on public and privately owned airports continues to mount. This pressure takes many forms, which can include curfews, noise restrictions, lack of improvements, residential encroachment, and even calls to close the airport. The AOPA Airport Support Network provides the vehicle for AOPA members to work in concert with AOPA staff to preserve and protect airports across the United States. AOPA’s goal is to have an Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteer at every public-use airport in the United States who will act as a volunteer and be a valuable resource in combating airport closure and encroachment.
An ASN volunteer is a liaison to local pilots and to any local pilot groups at their airport, as well as to airport management. Volunteers are asked to monitor and report to AOPA on city and county meetings and notify AOPA of any problems that may arise.
The ASN volunteer will inform AOPA of any questionable operational restrictions (curfews, noise abatement procedures); assist in direct and indirect promotion of local airport activity to enhance a favorable image of airport (i.e., open houses, airport support groups, and more); help educate local officials and community neighbors about the value of their airport; and provide local newspaper clips and media alerts on airport issues to AOPA ASN staff.
To become an ASN volunteer, you must be a current AOPA member and have access to the internet and email. Nominate yourself (or someone else) using the online nomination form, agree to the Conditions of Appointment (it’s a written agreement, which will be sent to you once you have filled out the nomination form; it’s just a few guidelines describing what volunteers do), and complete a short online training course.
MEET MIKE GINTER: AOPA VICE PRESIDENT OF AIRPORTS AND STATE ADVOCACY
Mike Ginter is the vice president of airports and state advocacy for AOPA. He leads AOPA’s team of regional managers and airport policy experts, and oversees a volunteer force of more than 1,700 Airport Support Network volunteers across the United States. This team accomplishes AOPA’s mission of protecting our freedom to fly by focusing on three areas: partner with, promote, and protect America’s airports; advocate for general aviation interests in all 50 state legislatures; and engage with members and key general aviation stakeholders in AOPA’s seven regions. Ginter served 27 years in the U.S. Navy flying the carrier-based S–3B Viking. He is an active pilot and has logged more than 500 carrier landings and 5,000 flight hours in various military and general aviation aircraft during his 40-year flying career.
By Alicia Herron
Life happens, and one day you may find yourself grounded by necessity and out of currency, proficiency, or both because of it. Getting back into aviation after any sizeable break can be challenging, and pilots often don’t know where to start. Should you get a flight review even though your hiatus from flying has only been a couple of months? Should you just go up by yourself and regain currency? After all, you’re legally allowed to as long as you’ve completed that flight review, right?
Sure, you can, and yes, it is legal. But is it safe? Is it smart? Perhaps not. The goal when getting back into the airplane should be achieving not only currency, but proficiency as well. Proficiency degrades progressively the longer any pilot remains inactive, and you should expect a different level of performance after extended time on the ground. This proficiency decay, more than legal currency requirements, should guide the steps you take to get back in the air.
Begin with a review and refresh of knowledge. Use online resources to get back up to speed, reread your POH, create a mock flight plan, get a weather briefing for practice, and review checklists. Pay special attention to emergency memory items, and carefully consider—before you solo the airplane again—if you’re ready to deal with abnormal procedures. If you have access to a desktop flight training device or flight simulator, use it to hone your skills further before getting back into the air.
On your first flight back, make sure you aren’t in a rush. Build in extra time, and avoid committing your time immediately after the flight to anything other than a debrief. At the airport, reacquaint yourself with your airplane and avionics. Do a walkaround and preflight as you normally would. Then, sit in the cockpit and simulate engine start, takeoff, flying the pattern, and landing, using the checklists from engine start to shutdown. Touch switches and knobs as if you were actually flying. Don’t forget to fly the avionics as well. Beyond practice with your EFB, connect your airplane to ground power so you can practice entering and modifying flight plans into the onboard GPS, if installed.
After you regain proficiency and before you take passengers, make sure you’ve regained your confidence and be sure to stay proficient. Find new ways to expand your skills by earning a new certificate or rating, or by transitioning to a different category or class of aircraft. And most important, go fly, and fly often.
For the full Return-to-Flight Proficiency Plan, sponsored by Hartzell Propeller Inc., visit the website.
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Airplane camping weather is here. Have you camped under your airplane’s wing before? Or are you planning to go for your first time?
Calling all backcountry pilots in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska: Check in to the most airports in these states to win the August AOPA Pilot Passport program challenge. The three pilots with the most check-ins receive a Hertz rental car coupon and AOPA Pilot Gear.
And there’s a bonus—fly on National Aviation Day (August 19) and receive an additional 100 points.
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 experiences by rating the airport, uploading photos, and posting comments on social media (use #AOPAPilotPassport in your posts).
We talk with Julie Summers Walker and Mike Fizer from our publications team about flying the Hawaiian islands.#flywithaopa
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By Chad Mayer
Thousands of laser strikes against aircraft are reported every year, including more than 6,000 in 2019. It is a federal crime to aim the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft, and the penalty can range from fines up to $25,000 to a prison term of up to five years. The FAA’s Office of the Chief Counsel has published a legal interpretation, “Interference with a Crewmember via Laser.” The FAA’s interpretation states that it considers a “laser beam aimed by someone not on board an aircraft, to be interference with a crewmember’s performance and a violation of [14 CFR§] 91.11.”
The FAA is not a law enforcement agency, so it collects reports to “assist law enforcement and provide support for recommended mitigation actions to be taken to ensure continued safe and orderly flight operations.” As part of this effort, the FAA recently updated Advisory Circular (AC) 70-2B, “Reporting Laser Illumination of Aircraft.” The AC requests that pilots report laser strike events and provides procedures for reporting in the air as well as on the ground after the flight. Airborne reports should be made either to ATC when in controlled airspace, or on an appropriate frequency such as unicom or guard when in uncontrolled airspace. Such reports are not mandatory; they allow ATC to broadcast warnings to other aircraft in the area, and to work with agencies including the FBI and local law enforcement to stop the threat and bring the perpetrator to justice.
Pilots and crewmembers affected by an unauthorized laser illumination should report the event via the FAA Laser Beam Exposure questionnaire. The questionnaire (faa.gov/aircraft/safety/report/laserinfo) can be completed from a mobile device. If the laser strike results in crewmember incapacitation or aircraft damage serious enough to be classified as an accident, this may trigger a reporting requirement to the NTSB.
Filing a NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) report may also be needed. Many pilots only think of filing a NASA report when they may have committed an inadvertent violation. A laser strike has potential impact on safety in the National Airspace System and is, therefore, within the scope of the ASRS.
Chad Mayer is an in-house attorney for the AOPA Pilot Protection Services legal team.
NOTICE OF ANNUAL MEETING OF MEMBERS
The annual meeting of the members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association will be held at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, September 15, 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 www.aopa.org/myaccount or call 800-872-2672. —Justine A. Harrison, Secretary