|The following stories from the Apr. 20, 2012, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online|
There's nothing quite like the exhilaration of early-morning flying to get a routine weekday going.
Today there’s no trace of radiation fog as you walk up the line of tied-down airplanes. You note happily that all of them sit frost-free and ready for action for a change. Spring bursting forth only adds to the anticipation. The airport’s tranquil off-peak atmosphere is another plus as you preflight and get ready to log some flight time before work.
So, what’s the plan?
Getting out early on a cross-country might give you a chance to savor some turbulence-free flying for an hour or two before the sun begins to do its work, heating the landscape and sending up those inevitable columns of thermal turbulence. You’ll know when that process has begun because fair-weather cumulus clouds will start to appear, along with the bumps.
Pressed for time? Then pattern work or some slow flight might make a good morning’s solo syllabus. Warming up with a coordination exercise on your arrival in the practice area is a good way to get loose and feel relaxed. Remember to make clearing turns, and watch for other aircraft.
Save practicing ground reference maneuvers for a time when surface winds are blowing at least a little and you can work on wind correction technique. Those conditions may exist by the end of your flight.
One way to avoid rude surprises before morning flights is to call the FBO the day before you fly and ask to have your trainer ready and waiting. That means full fuel and oil, a clean windscreen, and easy access, if it is hangared. Is there a towbar handy if you need it?
With the songs of birds in your ears as you preflight, enjoy the music—but check carefully for signs that your trainer has been selected as a nesting site.
Speaking of nature, wildlife shares your enthusiasm for the peace and quiet of an early morning, so remember that although you may have beaten most pilots to the field, deer, geese, or gulls are another matter.
Can’t fly until later? A calm evening is the next best thing—but be on the safe side by carrying night-flight gear along, and then be ever watchful for fog forming when the temperature/dew point spread begins to close.
Most of all, enjoy.
Kneeboard, FlightNotes from Powderpuff Pilot
Powderpuff Pilot has added two new products to its line of aviation supplies designed for women. A pink kneeboard designed by LC Flight Products sells for $21.95. FlightNotes, also designed by LC Flight Products, are 8-1/2 by 5 inches and are designed to fit in a kneeboard that has a clip. The top half of each page is blank; the bottom half is designed to record ATIS and flight plan information. A package of two pads is $5.95.
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'm just about to start training for my private pilot certificate. At what point should I get a medical certificate?
Answer: You will need a medical certificate prior to solo flight, but it's a good idea to visit an aviation medical examiner and obtain it before beginning your flight training. This will assure you that you are aware of any condition that might prevent you from obtaining a medical certificate before you have invested much money into your training. The medical standards for first, second, and third class airman medicals can be found on AOPA Online. And, if you have questions about a pre-existing medical condition, call AOPA's medical certification staff, 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672).
Got a question for our technical services staff? Email firstname.lastname@example.org 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.