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Report Leaving

In the case of the departure, and from a certain perspective, I could call that report a requirement. The respective approach/center controller is required to verify your altitude anyway to make sure it is what they are seeing on their screens, just like the Tower controller is required to make sure you are squawking the right code before they switch you. As you continue your climb, and as annoying as it can be, the verification requests could continue on every new frequency, and certainly with each new facility. While your initial departure and the climb is where you will report leaving an altitude the most, what about when youre at cruise or even up in the flight levels?

Sorting Out ADS-B

You already have a transponder that transmits a dumb and blind signal in response to interrogation from other sources. Well, its not entirely dumb in that you can enter a four-digit base-eight (no 8s or 9s) code on the instrument and when the transponder responds to an interrogation, it puts that code and even your present altitude (to the nearest 100 feet) onto its outgoing signal. ADS-B Out keeps that but takes it a bit further.

Readback: January 2019

Another good rule of thumb is Buys Bullots law: To locate where the bad weather is coming from, put your back to the wind and extend your left arm straight out. Thats where the low pressure bad WX is coming from. It works for me.

Stupid Pilot Tricks: 2019

Yep, its time to make fun of those who in 2015 ignored sound judgment and lived to garner pilot lounge derision. And, since pilots tend to repeat the same mistakes in hopes of different results, we heed George Orwell who said, We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. Since no intelligent man or woman stepped forward, its up to me.

The Day the Music Died

Unless youre under age 30 or live in a remote village in Mongolia, youve likely heard the 1971 Don McLean song American Pie, in which the events on the night of February 2-3, 1959 are recalled. That night, three of Americas top rock musicians died in a tragic aviation accident in Iowa. The accident is ingrained in American culture. I cant think of a better example of an accident worth researching for lessons to learn.

Many Ways Outta Town

Some time ago we published a letter from a pilot who complained that ATC regularly vectored her toward mountains that rise over 4000 feet just 11 miles southwest of KAVL in Asheville, NC. Her single-engine airplane would wind up level with the ridgetops. Requests for a safer southerly route around the mountains were always denied. Upon request, ATC would vector her on course once they realized she was flirting with cumulogranite.

Garmin GTN Updates

Garmins latest software for the GTN navigators (V6.5) offers compelling new features. GTNs come in both the GTN 700 and GTN 600 series. The patriarch is the x50 (650 or 750) with GPS/NAV/COM capabilities; whereas the x25 has only GPS. The 600 and 700 differ in the screen size and the 700s ability to control an embedded audio panel. With the larger screen, the 700 can also display georeferenced (Jeppesen or AIS) approach charts.

Too Old…For What?

Like many of you, I also ride motorcycles. I have two Hondas, one of which is 25 years old but still suits me quite well. Due to a confluence of some logistical and health challenges, now past, I hadnt ridden in a few years. Late this past summer I again undertook two-wheeled transportation.

Briefing: January 2019

When a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 with only 800 hours crashed into the ocean in November, killing all 189 on board, the event raised a lot of questions. It behaved erratically in flight before the crew lost control, and several crews had reported problems with the airplane in the days before.

Preflight Briefings

Be aware of the distinction between MSL and AGL. Cloud heights associated with airports are customarily given in AGL. But areal guidance products, area forecasts, and PIREPs, use MSL. Also, anything stated as a ceiling or carrying the CIG abbreviation is AGL. Since IFR and MVFR conditions are based upon ceiling height, centralized products will always use AGL ceilings when constructing an IFR/MVFR depiction. If there is any doubt, find the information ahead of time or talk to a briefer.

On The Air: December 2018

A few days ago, departing Minot North Dakota for Duluth in a Skylane, I asked ATC if the NOTAM for military training at Duluth had the airport closed, or whether it was open to GA traffic. He asked me to stand by for a minute, and then said, Its closed at the moment, but will reopen in 30 minutes, so unless you are doing Mach 3, you should have no problem.

FAA Reauthorization

The law provides $3.35 billion for airport planning and development and noise compatibility planning and programs. Appropriations for facilities and equipment from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund will run for the same term, increasing annually from $3.33 to $3.707 billion in 2023. These monies will be used in part to upgrade ASOS/AWOS systems, fund remote (unattended) towers, eliminate the deferred maintenance backlog of air navigation facilities (many of which are over 40 years old) and improve cybersecurity within ATC as well as in the National Airspace System.