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Share your flying experiences

Providing feedback on great airports and amenities

By Amelia Walsh

America’s general aviation airports have a lot to offer: spectacular backcountry terrain, southern hospitality, and $100 hamburgers that are worth it. Using the updated ratings and reviews feature of AOPA’s Airport Directory Online, pilots can review and rate airports and on-site businesses, and share their flying experiences.

From the airport itself to FBOs, restaurants, flight schools, and maintenance shops, pilots are encouraged to give their feedback—the good, the bad, and the ugly—on all aspects of an airport’s amenities, and to check the experience other pilots had at those locations. The new rating functionality allows users to provide up to five-star ratings, post reviews, upload photos, and like other users’ comments. Just as important, managers and business owners can interact with customers by responding to user comments, recognizing great feedback, and addressing customer concerns that would otherwise go unanswered.

The member-requested feature is a welcome addition to the Airport Directory Online as more consumers turn to online reviews. According to research from Gatherup, 88 percent of buyers are influenced by online reviews; 91 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Along with the new ratings and review feature, AOPA’s Airport Directory Online also has an updated and rebuilt kneeboard format. The kneeboard now displays airport manager reported traffic pattern altitudes in addition to FAA-reported pattern altitudes. Comments on runway conditions, noise abatement information, pilot-activated lighting details, and clearance delivery phone numbers also are available.

Users leaving reviews must be logged in to but do not need to be AOPA members. Airport and business managers do not need to have a paid AOPA membership in order to respond to a review but must have administrative access to their listing, which is provided at no cost.

The new additions to the Airport Directory Online combined with the AOPA Travel Portal and biweekly AOPA Travel Pilot newsletter make it easy for pilots to discover fun new places to fly and to share their adventures.


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Laurence Balter of Maui Flight Academy flying his Cirrus SR22 from Lanai to Hawaii island.Kahului Airport (OGG)Maui HI
AOPA Air Safety Institute

Call it like it is

Pireps made easy

By Alicia Herron

What are pireps (pilot reports)? The easy answer is that they are reports made by pilots who observe actual flight conditions. This makes them different from the typical weather information we get, which is presented as best-educated guesses, called forecasts. But pireps are more than the simple reports they may seem—besides helping in the go/no-go decision-making process, pireps can help change forecasts, fill in gaps between weather reporting stations, and verify (or discount) a forecast critical to your route of flight.

A common misconception is that the weather must be “bad” to give a pirep or that if your pirep doesn’t show up on the Aviation Weather Center (AWC) website, it was not valuable. Neither is the case. While it is important to let ATC know if you encounter hazardous or unforecast inclement weather in flight (such as icing, thunderstorms, or low visibility), it is just as important to give what are called null reports. Is the air perfectly smooth where you expected moderate turbulence? Are the winds aloft far calmer than predicted? Let ATC know—it’ll help make the forecasts better over time. Alternately, if the weather predicted stability yet a thunderstorm pops up, give a pirep—in cases of severe weather, a pirep can be the triggering mechanism for flight advisories like sigmets. The report you give will be valuable, even if you just call to say the weather is great.

Imagine you’re on a long cross-country, and on a 50-mile leg with no weather reporting stations along that part of the route. You have what you think is a good picture of the overall weather—you got a briefing, after all. You expected ceilings of 6,000 feet but they’re closer to 3,000. You feel comfortable with the difference, but another pilot might not. Give a pirep in situations like this, or whenever you encounter conditions in flight that you would have liked to know about on the ground.

Should you have one of those “Well, this would’ve been nice to know before the flight” moments in the air, consider it your cue to give a pirep. Pilot reports are more than appreciated—they can be critical to the safety of flight.

Learn more about pireps with the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s safety advisor: airsafetyinstitute/safetyadvisor/pirepsmadeeasy

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Eightieth anniversary winners

There were 80 winners in the AOPA eightieth anniversary Pilot Passport Program challenge, which recognized pilots for checking in at airports across the country in honor of the association’s eightieth anniversary in 2019—but only three earned enough points to win the top prizes. Wendy Lessig of Tooele, Utah, took top honors, winning the championship with the most points earned for checking in and visiting airports. Bill Tracy of Elyria, Ohio, was second, and Chris Verbil of Los Altos, California, was third. Each received Freedom to Fly: AOPA and the History of General Aviation in America, challenge pins, and an AOPA Pilot Gear tactical jacket. The remaining 77 winning pilots all received the Freedom to Fly collectible book.

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).


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We’re grateful to be part of this amazing GA community that is constantly inspiring new people to enter the aviation world!


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One size doesn't fit all

The art and science of medicine

By Gary Crump

AOPA’s medical certification staff of six specialists has more than 60 years of combined experience in the often-complex, bureaucratic, time-consuming, and frustrating process of satisfying the FAA safety regulators that we, as aviators, are medically safe to occupy the national airspace.

Medicine is a multifaceted discipline. Most of us as patients and consumers of health care services and products know medicine clinically. We see the physician, nurse practitioner, lab technician, or physical therapist in a clinical setting.

But there’s also research medicine, administrative medicine, and “regulatory medicine,” where pilots with medical issues find themselves when they receive a letter from the FAA asking for more information. The distinction between regulatory and clinical medicine is important because it often puts the pilot in the middle of a philosophical and operational impasse between the treating physician—the clinician, and the FAA—the regulators, whose roles are sometimes in conflict.

Consider heart disease, one of the most common medical diagnoses affecting pilots in the United States. Clinically, the pilot’s cardiologist is treating that disease with respect to symptoms, diagnostic procedures to assess the severity of disease and determine appropriate treatment, the patient’s ongoing quality of life, and the overall appropriate recognized standard of care for the diagnosis. This becomes a consideration for pilots because health care providers—that is, insurance companies, as well as hospital administrators and medical ethics boards—have input about what treatment is reasonable and appropriate.

As long as the patient is symptom-free and has no clinical indications or a progression of the condition that could threaten quality of life, the treating physician is doing his or her job to render care within the constraints of the established standard of care. Now, let’s say that patient with coronary heart disease that is partially obstructing one or more of the coronary arteries that supplies blood to the heart muscle has the standard diagnostic procedures. If that testing reveals obstructive lesions in the coronary circulation—blockages that reduce the blood supply through the affected artery, a condition called myocardial ischemia—the cardiologist determines the best treatment plan for the patient.

If the patient isn’t a pilot, it’s all good. However, that same patient who presents to the FAA a cardiovascular evaluation in support of a medical certificate is most likely going to be denied medical certification.


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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