Student Tip of the Week
While flying cross country, regularly listen to En route flight advisory
service (EFAS), commonly know as Flight Watch on 122.0 MHz. Listening to
the weather from the briefer and the questions asked by pilots, you
can develop a mental picture of what the weather is doing in your area.
Try to call in a pilot report on each cross country flight. Reports of
"clear weather" and "negative turbulence" are just as useful as reports
of "bad" weather.
During your preflight inspection, look at the airplane from a few feet back
with the tailcone at eye level. This will give you a chance to check that
everything is straight and leaks that weren't obvious from the front.
Be especially watchful for wrinkled skin on the tail section.
Regularly look at the DUATS weather, even if you are not flying. If you
need to brush up on reading coded METARs and TAFs, get both the coded
and computer translated versions. If you do this regularly, you will
soon develop a sense as to how reported weather actually appears.
DynCorp DUATS: http://www.duats.com/
DTC DUAT: http://www.duat.com/
Keep your E6B and plotter within reach when flying cross country. Reaching
into you bag in the back seat is not what you want to be doing if you
have to divert to another destination.
When performing a simulated (or real!) engine failure, don't forget the
area directly under the airplane as a potential landing site.
When performing tasks from your checklist, perform a quick full panel scan
at each logical stopping point and at the end of the checklist. Look for
items that are out of place or not in a reasonable condition. This will
help prevent major problems from inadvertantly skipping a checklist item.
When flying cross country, consider using a letter size "legal" pad turned
sideways as a lap board. Put the binding on the left side (right side if
you are left handed) and put your flight log, charts, etc. between the pages.
This will give you a writing surface with lots of space and a way to organize
your paperwork at a low cost. If you fly solo cross country in an airplane
with a stick, you really need to get a kneeboard.
When flying to an unfamiliar airport, draw a stick diagram of the runway
alignment on your flight log. Draw small arrows to show the pattern direction.
Also note the field elevation and pattern altitude. This way, you will not be
distracted by charts or books when your workload is the highest.
© 1999 - 2002 George T. Palecek.
All Rights Reserved.
Last modified 07/15/02.