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Weekly tips, technique and training from IFR.

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Cell Encounterpoint

The answer given in question 2 of the quiz in your November 2018 issue (continue to fly straight through the storm) is incorrect. Fifty years ago I wrote and published the initial research papers on transmitting weather information into the cockpit after almost losing my life due to a thunderstorm. As a nationally recognized aviation radar/weather spokesperson, I continue to educate and update pilots around the country as the program progresses. The history of the Datalink program is best presented by AOPA’s video on YouTube. Search for “datalink concept to cockpit.”

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A Stability Refresher

The outside air temperature affects your ride more than you might think. And, how that temperature relates to those above and below matters even more.

While stability and instability don’t always cause weather, they leave a mark on even VFR forecasts in many subtle ways, and they influence everything from wind gusts to cloud layers. Even in forecast models, there are always complex equations that factor in stability. Stability is important enough that an entire chapter is dedicated to it in the FAA’s Aviation Meteorology circular. For meteorologists, a chart known as the Skew-T diagram is used every day at forecast centers. It’s literally a worksheet that helps forecasters visualize the day’s stability and make calculations on it.

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Up In Upper Michigan

A go/no-go decision often rests on destination weather. But conditions at the departure point can also make or break a flight. Would you take off in LIFR?

For those unfamiliar, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan boasts generous lengths of shoreline off Lake Superior, scenic byways, and lots of trees. While it can be a winter wonderland during the off-season, it’s not unusual to have many days of dreary gray skies and fog that wears away the most sanguine spirit. It’s the kind of weather that gets us burning through a whole morning figuring out how to get out, around and back without getting stuck who-knows-where. Welcome to the UP.

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Party in the Pattern

Likely you either practice approaches to non-towered airports or fly into airfields with part-time control towers. Non-towered airports, hotbeds of GA activities, present our greatest risk of a midair collision; a risk mitigated by a “disciplined adherence to procedures (proper entry into landing patterns, proper departure patterns) and proper use of the UNICOM frequency at uncontrolled airports.” (FAA Aviation News, May/June 2001) Therefore, it’s important that instrument pilots play nice around the pattern. The updated AC 90-66 covering non-towered airports specifically identifies instrument pilots, maybe because of some past misbehavior.

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Human Factors

About 30 minutes into these touch and goes, one requested a “stop and go.” I could not have five aircraft doing touch and goes with one doing a stop and go; it would mess up the pattern and I’d be making student pilots do a lot they didn’t need to. So, I come back with, “Unable. I have five of y’all.” He came back with, “Well we need to do stop and goes for training.” I thought about putting that one airplane on the other runway, but I had started to have a line of departures and arrivals. “Unable,” I repeated. I thought the matter was closed, as it should have been.

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Readback: April 2019

Dan, we believe that the appeal of our annual SPT article (every January) is that most of us can find one or more examples cited in the article where we can easily imagine ourselves as the pilot, except we escaped unscathed. So, much of that laughter is laughing at ourselves. Statute of limitations or not, there are many antics I got away with that I’ll never, ever admit to in public. Or, as an aerobatic pilot I once knew who couldn’t avoid practicing low over somewhat populated areas used to like to say, “I wasn’t there. It wasn’t me. You can’t prove a thing!” —FB

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On The Air: April 2019

Recently during the government shutdown, Atlanta Center had a hard time communicating with a Citation who seemed to be out of range. They asked me to call up the Citation and tell him that he needed to go to another frequency. We reached the Citation and relayed the message. We reported this back to the Center controller who was grateful for the help. I replied, “Happy to help. We’ll send you a bill.”

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Just Say It: “Unable”

ATC will often ask pilots if they can do something somewhat out of the ordinary for the purpose of granting a shortcut or maybe to gain that extra slice of airspace. This subtle word works on both sides of the coin. In the pattern, Tower might ask a pilot to fly a short approach that—if the pilot is unprepared and accepts it—requires a steep and fast dive. Perhaps you’ve been offered that so they can fit you inside of other traffic, to avoid vectoring you 10 miles out to get behind everyone. Or, perhaps they just need you to cross the approach end of the runway so they can start getting other airplanes out. Regardless, if you don’t think you can safely and properly comply, bring on the PIC authority and just say it, “Unable.”

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Briefing: April 2019

ADS-B innovator uAvionix is offering an online instruction program to qualify A&Ps to install its recently certified skyBeacon ADS-B Out device and its soon-to-be certified tailBeacon product. The skyBeacon adds the ADS-B transmitter to wingtip navigation or nav/strobe lights and requires no panel work or antenna installation. The tailBeacon replaces the position light on the tail. The simple system satisfies the FAA’s Jan. 1, 2020 mandate requiring ADS-B Out on aircraft operating in almost all controlled airspace. The devices cost less than $2,000 and installation time is about an hour. The program is in response to demand from shops and independents across the country. uAvionix said it hopes to alleviate the building backlog of conventional ADS-B installations, which can take up to 25 hours of shop time.

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How Much Is Enough?

Removing the old autopilot will leave holes in the left panel that would be too ugly if we just covered them, so we’re going to cut new metal. Since we’re doing that, the shop has suggested we might consider replacing the backup analog airspeed indicator, attitude gyro, and altimeter with an integrated electronic standby instrument. Yeah, that’s probably a good idea, especially right now, as the vacuum attitude indicator has been slow to come alive recently and is probably about to die.

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Download The Full April 2019 Issue PDF

Removing the old autopilot will leave holes in the left panel that would be too ugly if we just covered them, so we’re going to cut new metal. Since we’re doing that, the shop has suggested we might consider replacing the backup analog airspeed indicator, attitude gyro, and altimeter with an integrated electronic standby instrument. Yeah, that’s probably a good idea, especially right now, as the vacuum attitude indicator has been slow to come alive recently and is probably about to die.

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