Archive for the 'Safety' Category

Wing Tips

Flight planning, whether for a short hop or a long haul can be gleaned from many sources. I always like talking to a briefer. It used to be they knew the ins and outs of the area. Now you just get what they’re interpreting off the computer. Anyway a warm, fuzzy voice can help dissect the wx issues.

Currently there are a number of flight planning products, for free, out on the web. I took on two programs just to see how easy, and supportive they can be. The two were Flightaware and navmonster.

This program seems to be geared more for the pro or IFR flight. You have to create a login profile before you start getting any info. That took a lot of rooting around, trying to remember all the details of my plane. Then before they would give me wx and flight routing they took for granted this flight would be filed. I don’t often file. The routing was also geared to standard routes without any field trips to places of interest or avoiding high
terrain. I suppose once you get familiar with this product, you can sail through all the hoops and ladders to get your info. Not a product I would go back to.

This is a great site. It’s easy, fast, you don’t have to have a NAV profile. Just type in departure point, destination and away you go. Their maps are great for wx, winds, and they have a radar loop. A chart with the winds aloft at different altitudes helps with altitude planning. There also is a listing of fuel prices in the vicinity of your route if you need a potty break and to pick up more fuel. A nice feature is the Tripkit which gives you everything plus the shopping list. It took no time for my brain to wrap around this one.

Mountain Flying

Mountain Flying

Learn more about the challenges of high-density-altitude operations, flight planning and performance considerations, mountain weather, and more (approx. 45-60 minutes).

*This course qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program.

from AOPA Interactive Safety Courses

AOPA podcasts

For your listening pleasure…

A warm summer night and a vacant but familiar airport seemed perfect for practicing takeoffs and landings. The new private pilot was night current, but he wanted to be especially sharp for an upcoming flight and decided to get some additional practice. He felt oddly rushed that evening, and the decision to forego refueling coupled with a few bad approaches led to a humbling discovery upon landing. Find out more in the Never Again Podcast.

Listen to more stories in AOPA’s Never Again Podcast directory

Wind shear

QUESTION: What is wind shear, and how can it affect me during flight?

ANSWER: Wind shear is a rapid change in wind speed and/or direction. There are several causes, including temperature inversions, frontal zone passages, and thunderstorm activity. Wind shear can happen at any altitude; however, one of the most dangerous times to encounter this phenomenon is during the landing or takeoff phase when the aircraft is at a low altitude and low airspeed.

An extreme type of wind shear is a microburst. Microbursts are small-scale intense downdrafts that spread out in all directions once reaching the ground. This causes both vertical and horizontal wind shear that can be particularly dangerous to aircraft, especially at low altitudes. An encounter like this during landing might exceed an aircraft’s ability to maintain a stable descent rate, causing it to impact terrain short of the runway.

To learn more about this potentially hazardous weather condition, read “The Weather Never Sleeps: Ill Wind” ( ).

A Can of Worms

To begin with, lets just come out and say ‘this is a can of worms’. It’s a perennial can that ebbs and flows on the tides of aviation. I do not anticipate any one answer or conclusion; only (hopefully) an attitude of keeping the wrinkles out of our sails.

The scenario is preceded by days, weeks, months of relentless winter wx. Our aviator’s nose is pressed to the window of hope, willing the skies to clear for a quick trip up into the yonder. A recess of sunshine opens up and we all grab the keys and head to the airport. The gifts are many on days such as this. Petaluma has the good fortune of having a great airport community, excellent restaurant and beautiful scenery. Between a run out to the coast, a cruise up along the coastal snowy peaks, or a bay tour, there’s lots of flying in a local area. Continue reading ‘A Can of Worms’

Sectional Charts quiz


VFR sectional charts provide information you need to plan a safe flight and to pick out the landmarks you will find along the way. If you’re mapping out a trip to an unfamiliar place, there may be some symbols you haven’t seen in awhile: Is that shaded box a military operations area or a restricted area? Does that tower have lighting so you can pick it out at night?

Test your knowledge of chart symbols, navaids, airspace, and more in the latest quiz
…from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation

Finding and Fighting Fatigue

Finding and Fighting Fatigue

According to “Finding and Fighting Fatigue” in the January/February 2010 FAA Aviation News, the solution is amazingly simple, yet often difficult to implement: Get more sleep. In addition to providing tips to help airmen develop better sleep habits, the article also provides a sleep log which helps readers gauge how much sleep they get during a two-week period.

The authors offer some sobering facts about fatigue. For instance, did you know that your performance level after being awake for 20 hours is equivalent to that of a legally drunk driver? Be sure to check out the entire article for more tips on how to combat fatigue. … article (.pdf)