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When legal isn’t safe
There are some days when the weather is legal for visual flight rules, but you still wouldn’t consider flying in it. Winds may be gusting, with crosswind component far in excess of any you have experienced. Even without clouds present, haze can marginalize visibility. You may opt to stay on the ground, even if the flight service briefer doesn’t say, “VFR not recommended.” Know that phrase. It is “an advisory provided by a flight service station to a pilot during a preflight or inflight weather briefing that flight under visual flight rules is not recommended. To be given when the current and/or forecast weather conditions are at or below VFR minimums,” explains the FAA’s Pilot/Controller Glossary.
Before the first solo, such weather decisions are always made by the flight instructor. But at a certain point after you solo under direct supervision, you will start making those judgments yourself before flights, guided by limitations your CFI enters in your logbook. Now “solo” isn’t just a description of a flight that you make alone; solo becomes a phase of your training. “Then your instructor will allow you to practice by yourself at your home airport, perhaps specifying certain weather conditions or areas in which you're allowed to fly. You'll need to master operations in the airport traffic pattern, understand winds, and learn to recognize when conditions are beyond your capabilities,” explains the Flight Training website on solo resources.
A further word about logbook limitations: You should participate in the process of setting parameters that are safe and practical. As the AOPA Air Safety Foundation advocates in the Instructor’s Guide to the Presolo Written Test : “Introduce the concept of ‘legal is not always safe.’ While the FARs define visual meteorological conditions (VMC) as greater than three miles visibility and a ceiling greater than one thousand feet, few (if any) student pilots could fly safely in these conditions. The parameters set for the student should include visibility, ceiling, and surface winds. The discussion of personal minimums can also be expanded to include runway lengths and surfaces, fuel reserves, and recent flying experience.”
As you gain experience, your CFI can amend or remove limitations to keep you on track.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Using a navigation log and completing a flight plan can be difficult tasks. AOPA has the resources to make it easier. Try the AOPA Internet Flight Planner for the ultimate in easy flight planning. The flight planner saves your aircraft and personal data to allow you to make quick, accurate flight plans in seconds. It includes access to AOPA Airports, which gives you all the frequency and airport information you’ll need. Your instructor may not want you to plan solely with AOPA’s Internet Flight Planner, but it’s also a great tool to check your own planning.
Did you know that student pilots who join AOPA are three times more likely to complete their flight training? Membership includes unlimited access to aviation information by phone (800/USA-AOPA, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time) or from AOPA Flight Training Online or AOPA Online. If you're not already a member, join today and get the pilot's edge. Login information is available online.
When Silver State Helicopters went bankrupt in 2008, it left students on the hook for more than $100 million in loans. It’s not a common situation, but the event drew attention to the vulnerability of students in the case of a sudden flight school closure. A recently passed law in California is intended to protect the financial wellbeing of students, but it may go too far—saddling flight schools with a financial burden that may be insurmountable for many, and possibly leading to closures. AOPA joined other members of the aviation community June 7 to explain the potential detriment of the law before the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education Advisory Committee. Read more >>
Skycatcher reaches the rental fleet
There’s at least one place in the country you can rent a Cessna 162 Skycatcher, and it is right across the airport from the Cessna factory. Kansas Aviation Inc., based in Yingling Aviation facilities at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, becomes the first flight school to offer the aircraft for rent—at $98 per hour. Read more >>
IMC Club expands nationwide
Since the IMC Club began establishing groups nationwide in November 2009, the organization has grown to 20 chapters with nearly 700 members. IMC Club President Radek Wyrzykowski told AOPA that the club focuses on proficiency in a “fun and enjoyable form that is encouraged and rewarded every time and shared as an experience with the community of pilots.” One of the goals is to equip less-experienced instrument pilots with the resources needed to gain confidence in flying in IMC. Read more >>
You’re flying the downwind leg at a towered airport, and the controller has just cleared you for “the option.” Can you initiate a simulated engine failure abeam the numbers and execute a short approach to the runway? Not so fast. “If you intend to simulate an engine out/short approach please make the request with the tower so they can base their separation on your request,” reads the answer in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation resource Ask ATC. The foundation has just added new questions and answers to the resource, so find more answers from real controllers and submit your own.
If you think not much changes in two years, think again. In just the past year, we’ve gotten a new special flight rules area in New York City and several proposed changes to Class B airspace, not to mention many smaller airspace changes across the country. Your flight review every two years is an opportunity to continue to update and expand your skills as a pilot, and gives you a chance to go over recent changes in airspace, technology, and procedures. Test your knowledge of the flight review in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation quiz, underwritten by the AOPA Insurance Agency.
AOPA Live at AirVenture
Airshows, camping, pilot products, workshops—you name it and EAA AirVenture has it. AOPA will be bringing the action to you in real time through AOPA Live. For those traveling to Oshkosh, Wis., for AirVenture (July 26 through Aug. 1), stop by AOPA’s Big Yellow Tent (near Hangar C) to see the Fun to Fly Remos GX Sweepstakes aircraft and pledge how you will engage in aviation in 2010. Also, visit the AOPA Let’s Go Flying/Flight Training exhibit in the EAA Learn to Fly Discovery Center on AeroShell Square to learn how to get others involved in flying. July 28 through 30, join AOPA President Craig Fuller and aviation notables for AOPA Live interviews next to the yellow tent. If you can’t make it to Oshkosh, log on to AOPA Live for the interviews.
Gateway to Summit
When thousands of pilots, aircraft owners, and aviation enthusiasts flock to Long Beach, Calif., for AOPA Aviation Summit in November, many of those who fly in for the event will get help on the flight line from host FBO AirFlite Aviation Services. Long Beach Airport/Daugherty Field and AirFlite are hosting AOPA’s annual convention for the third time. AirFlite will provide FBO services for transient aircraft and support services for the second annual Airportfest, which includes activities for the whole family and a one-of-a-kind static aircraft display. Read more>>
Fun to Fly Remos makes a splash at creekside arts festival
Visitors to the Frederick, Md., Festival of the Arts June 5 and 6 expected to see an array of painters, photographers, and sculptors displaying their wares. What they didn’t expect was to see an airplane positioned on Carroll Creek in the heart of downtown Frederick. “How’d you get that airplane in here?” many wanted to know. The annual festival draws thousands of spectators. This year, for the first time, visitors got a close look at a light sport aircraft. Read more >>
Dark clouds forming
Something’s brewing on the horizon from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Watch AOPA Live >>
If you’ve been thinking about buying a Bose X headset, now is the time to strike. The company is running a very rare sale, and is offering the headset either direct or through its retail partners nationwide for $845.95, roughly $150 off the normal price. The sale price should be available at most pilot supply retailers.
Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.
Question: I have heard about the Aviation Safety Reporting System. However, I am not sure when and why I should file a report. Can you tell me more about the program?
Answer: The FAA established the voluntary program to encourage pilots, controllers, flight attendants, maintenance personnel, and other users of the aviation system to report “deficiencies and discrepancies” within the National Airspace System. The intent is to identify and correct unsafe conditions before they result in incidents or accidents. NASA acts as the independent collecting agency to ensure confidentiality and encourage the free flow of information. The program covers, but is not limited to, operations such as landing and departure, en route legs, air traffic procedures, communications, ground movements, and near midair collisions. The FAA also provides for the waiver of certain disciplinary actions so long as the reports are filed within 10 days of the incident. Read more about the Aviation Safety Reporting System online.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail email@example.com or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don’t forget the online archive of “Final Exam” questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.
what’s new online
When not to fly
The desire to complete a flight, whether in training or after, can be strong. Making a meeting, seeing family, or getting in that weekend away is important, but so is making the right decisions. Read the Flight Training blog this week to learn about how, when, and why pilots make this tough decision. Read more >>
Pilots love to take photos, and they love to share them with other pilots. Now you can upload your flying photos to our online gallery, “Air Mail.” Share your special aviation images, or view and rate more than 5,500 photos (and growing). Photos are put into rotation on the AOPA home page!
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER
Want something to do this weekend? Planning an aviation getaway? See your personalized online calendar of events . We’ve enhanced our calendar so that with one click you can see all of the events listed in the regions you selected when personalizing ePilot . Now you can browse events in your region to make planning easier. You can also bookmark the personalized calendar page to check it as often as you want. Before you take off on an adventure, make sure you check our current aviation weather provided by Jeppesen.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in San Jose, Calif., and Charlotte, N.C., June 26 and 27; Memphis, Tenn., July 10 and 11; Jacksonville, Fla., and Newark, N.J., July 17 and 18; Pittsburgh, Pa., July 24 and 25; Atlanta, Ga., and Fort Worth, Texas, Aug. 7 and 8; Champaign, Ill., Aug. 14 and 15; Costa Mesa, Calif., and Reno, Nev., Aug. 21 and 22; Allentown, Pa., Aug. 28 and 29. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Can’t make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.
AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars
AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars are scheduled in Oshkosh, Wis., July 28, 29 and 30; Germantown, Tenn., Aug. 30; Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 31; and Maryville, Tenn., Sept. 1. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
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Editorial Team: ePilot Flight Training Editor : Ian Twombly | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton Marsh