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Weekly tips, technique and training from IFR.

July 2017

Full Issue (PDF)

Download The Full July 2017 Issue PDFSubscribers Only

The FAA has long had its WINGS program focused on increasing the skill levels of all pilots. In 2008, it received a major face lift, became web based (www.faasafety.gov), and offered many different opportunities for pilots to increase proficiency without the ab- solutes of a pass/fail review or check ride. There are three levels of WINGS: the Basic, Advanced, and Master phases. Each level has multiple phases. Unlike the previous program, multiple phases can be earned each year. To complete a phase, pilots must get three flight and three ground credits which can be chosen from a wide range of activities.

Briefing

Briefing: July 2017

The FAA’s BasicMed rule took effect on May 1, creating a new option for pilots who want to fly without an FAA medical certificate. Under the BasicMed rule, pilots can fly under certain circumstances without a medical certificate, but they must pass an online course about aviation medical issues, complete a medical exam and checklist, and meet certain other criteria. The FAA’s Advisory Circular (AC 68-1) on “Alternative Medical Qualifications” describes in detail how pilots can comply with the new policy.

Features

Inferior performance

It’s been a great couple of days in Saratoga Springs, New York. You almost had to miss it since your TBM is in the shop. Luckily, the owner of your former V-tail Bonanza let you borrow back your old bird after a few phone calls and promises of adult beverages. You knocked out your business engagement early so you even got a chance to tour the battlefields—which was great until torrential rains forced a retreat to a local pub.

Laying Down the Line

Did you know that even piston airplanes can occasionally leave a contrail? Sure, it’s unusual, but it can happen. Many of us often wonder why some airplanes leave contrails that can last seemingly forever, while others leave a contrail that doesn’t last but a few seconds. Plus, of course, sometimes there’s no contrail at all. Contrails are an interesting phenomenon. So, let’s have some fun examining the science behind contrails. Along the way we can use that as a basis to learn a bit more about how the atmosphere behaves.

Circling versus Mins

The whole thing started when a reader asked about an approach to a Runway 26 that had the note, “Rwy 26 Straight-in and Circling minimums NA at night.” “Why doesn’t it just say the approach is NA at night?” the reader asked. We agreed that’s what it seemed to say, but we also wondered why it was said in so awkward a manner. So, we investigated and the answer we found surprised all of us.

Across the PondSubscribers Only

On occasion I have a flight “across the pond.” No, it’s not an ocean crossing, although it sometimes feels like it. These flights cross Lake Michigan, and require a bit more planning than flights over land. When you fly around the Great Lakes, it’s taken for granted that if you’re in a single-engine piston aircraft, you have to carefully examine the risks and mitigations. Don’t want to cross the lake at all? Fly around it and spend that extra time to stay over land. Not good weather for a crossing? Same deal.

IPC and ATC: We All GoofSubscribers Only

After a few days of unusually nasty weather, the day of my postponed IPC dawned bright and clear. There wasn’t even much wind. It was the perfect day to fly, and as it turned out, it seemed like just about every other pilot around thought the same thing. There was traffic everywhere and everyone wanted something different. I was caught in a perfect storm.

A Date With AIRAC

Maybe we’re too busy focusing on the forest and the trees that the dirt making up the foundation of the arbors is ignored. Or perhaps it’s the elephant in the room no one discusses. Instructors don’t teach it because they don’t understand the opaque system themselves—can’t teach something you don’t know. Whatever the cause, many pilots have a poor understanding of how aeronautical information travels through the system and how charts are updated.

Pilot’s Bill of Rights

In late 2010, experienced pilot and U.S. senator James Inhofe was issued a pilot violation by the FAA. Displeased with the violation process, he created and sponsored the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 1 and 2. The NTSB is supposed to be an impartial entity to which a pilot may appeal a certificate suspension or revocation. For decades, aviation attorneys have known this is not reality.

On the Air

On The Air: July 2017

Two Texas Highway Patrol Officers were conducting speeding enforcement on Highway 77, just south of Kingsville, TX. One of the officers was using a hand-held radar to check speeding vehicles approaching the town. The officers were suddenly surprised when the radar gun began reading 300 miles per hour and climbing. The radar gun would not reset and then it suddenly turned off.

Readback

Readback: July 2017

I just got around to trying Jeff Van West’s IFR Sim Challenge from the Feb. 2017 issue. It’s great! Many of us use desktop simulators like Prepar3d to practice instrument procedures. This makes it really challenging in a useful way. Please keep up this feature. I’m sure it will only get better as you work on it.

Remarks

An IPC through WINGS

There are three levels of WINGS: the Basic, Advanced, and Master phases. Each level has multiple phases. Unlike the previous program, multiple phases can be earned each year. To complete a phase, pilots must get three flight and three ground credits which can be chosen from a wide range of activities.