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Testing Tuesday: VFR on Top Clearance

Today's Testing Tuesday will be beneficial to both primary students and instrument students, as it discusses that strangest of clearances: VFR on Top.

What is the required flight visibility and distance from clouds if you are operating in in Class E airspace at 9,500 feet MSL with a VFR-On-Top clearance during daylight hours?

  1. 3 SM, 1,000 feet above, 500 feet below, and 2,000 feet horizontal
  2. 5 SM, 500 feet above, 1,000 feet below, and 2,000 feet horizontal
  3. 3 SM, 500 feet above, 1,000 feet below, and 2,000 feet horizontal

Click here to display the answer...


Andrew Hartley is a certificated flight instructor and commercial pilot in Columbus, Ohio.

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Testing Tuesday – Displaced Thresholds

Which runway marking indicates a displaced threshold on an instrument runway?

  1. Red chevron marks in the nonlanding portion of the runway
  2. Centerline dashes starting at the threshold
  3. Arrows leading to the threshold mark




Click here to display the answer...


Andrew Hartley is a certificated flight instructor and commercial pilot in Columbus, Ohio.

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Testing Tuesday: IFR Lost Communication Procedures

Scary Headset

Losing communication capabilities is nerve-wracking in VFR conditions, but is relatively straight-forward if you can see where you are going, even if where you are going is controlled airspace - though under VFR you can very easily go to a non-towered airport without talking to anyone and no one would really even know the difference (you might annoy other pilots in the pattern, but you would be perfectly legal). Towered airports can still communicate with you via light signal - you do have those light signals memorized for the checkride right? And if you are post-checkride, you have a cheatsheet on your kneeboard or pasted to your instrument panel, correct?

That said, under IFR, lost communication is a situation that might require a change of underwear upon reaching your destination - how the heck are you supposed to know what you are expected to do if air traffic control can't give you vectors and altitudes?

This Testing Tuesday, we have a question that you will definitely hear on your IFR checkride's oral exam:

What are you expected to do on an instrument flight when two-way communications has been lost?




Click here to display the answer...


Andrew Hartley is a certificated flight instructor and commercial pilot in Columbus, Ohio.

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Testing Tuesday: IFR Flight Plans

Smart Flight Training posts a question (and an answer) you might find on an FAA Knowledge Test or during the oral portion of a checkride each Tuesday.

Today's question is about IFR flight plans and when they are required.

When is an IFR flight plan required?

  1. When less than VFR conditions exist in either class E or class G airspace and in class A airspace.
  2. In all class E airspace when conditions are below VFR, in class A airspace, and in defense zone airspace.
  3. In class E airspace when IMC exists or in class A airspace.




Click here to display the answer...


Andrew Hartley is a certificated flight instructor and commercial pilot in Columbus, Ohio.

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Testing Tuesday: Instrument Interpretation (HSI)

Oh, the HSI.

This instrument, also known as the Horizontal Situation Indicator, is a nightmare if you haven't actually used it. From what I have heard, once you have used one and understand it, they are fantastic. I've talked to pilots who say they won't even fly an airplane that doesn't have one.

In the answer explanation we'll get into some tricks on answering the questions related to the HSI, but also some tricks on how to visualize the HSI and unserstand better what it is telling you - so that you don't need the "answering the question" tricks because you actually understand what the instrument is telling you!

Once again this week we have a question that I missed while studying for my FAA Instrument Rating knowledge test. And here it is:

(Refer to Figures 98 and 99, below) To which aircraft position does HSI presentation "B" correspond?

  1. 9
  2. 13
  3. 19

FAA Instrument Knowledge Test Figure 98

FAA Instrument Knowledge Test Figure 99




Click here to display the answer...

So there you have it! I hope this post has shed a little light on the mysterious HSI - I know I understand them better after trying to explain them here. Hopefully I won't miss this question the next time I see it on an FAA knowledge test!


Andrew Hartley is a certificated flight instructor and commercial pilot in Columbus, Ohio.

Testing Tuesday is a regular installment, each Tuesday, on the Smart Flight Training Blog. I post these in the hopes that they will help you be more prepared the next time you meet with your flight instructor, since preparation will save you both time and money during your flight training. I also post these because - I'll be honest - it is helping me prepare for the CFII certificate, which I am currently working toward. Two birds, one stone, right?

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