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Testing Tuesday: Class C Airspace Requirements

FAA Airspace

It's Tuesday again, and that means another installment of Testing Tuesday at Smart Flight Training!

I hope these question and answer sessions are helpful for you, but I'll be honest: I'm doing these for myself, too. I needed to continue to work on my CFII (Certificated Flight Instructor - Instrument) knowledge, and this seems as good a place as any to make sure my knowledge is strong as I move closer to that goal that, I'll admit, I've already missed the deadline I set for myself.

With that said, let's get on to today's question:

What minimum aircraft equipment is required for operation within class C airspace?

  1. Two way communications and Mode C transponder
  2. Two way communications
  3. Transponder and DME




Click here to display the answer...

Well, hopefully this Testing Tuesday post was helpful. This was a question I myself missed when I was originally studying for my Instrument Rating knowledge test, so it was good to review this and make sure I don't miss it again and can teach it to my future instrument students accurately and well.

Please let us know what you think about our Testing Tuesdays, and let us know if you have a question you would like answered - maybe something you missed on your own knowledge tests along the way, or something you were asked during the oral portion of a checkride. Let's make this more social, more interactive, more interesting! Try to stump me, try to stump the rest of my readers! You shouldn't have much trouble stumping me, but my readers are smart, so that will not be an easy task!


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

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Testing Tuesday: Special Use Airspace – MOAs

Each Tuesday, Smart Flight Training will post a sample question that a pilot could expect to see on an FAA Knowledge Test or hear during the oral portion of a checkride. A little known secret to saving money and time during your flight training is PREPARATION! Hopefully Testing Tuesday post will be one small step in helping you live up to your side of learning to fly by being prepared when you meet with your flight instructor, saving you money and time! Good luck on the below question - click the link at the bottom to see the answer and explanation!

What action should a pilot take when operating under VFR in a Military Operations Area (MOA)?

  1. Obtain a clearance from the controlling agency prior to entering the MOA.
  2. Operate only on the airways that transverse the MOA.
  3. Exercise extreme caution when military activity is being conducted.




Click here to display the answer...

Andrew Hartley is a certificated flight instructor and commercial pilot in Columbus, Ohio. He scoffs at gravity.

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Testing Tuesday: Traffic Avoidance

Each Tuesday, Smart Flight Training will post a sample question that a pilot could expect to see on an FAA Knowledge Test or hear during the oral portion of a checkride. A little known secret to saving money and time during your flight training: PREPARATION! Hopefully Testing Tuesday post will be one small step in helping you live up to your side of learning to fly by being prepared when you meet with your flight instructor, saving you money and time! Good luck on the below question - click the link at the bottom to see the answer and explanation!

During a night flight, you observe a steady white light and a flashing red light ahead and at the same altitude. What is the general direction of movement of the other aircraft?

  1. The other aircraft is crossing from the right to the left.
  2. The other aircraft is flying away from you.
  3. The other aircraft is crossing from the left to the right.

Click here to display the answer...

As always, I hope this Testing Tuesday question was helpful and thought-provoking! If you have any questions or concerns about this answer (or have a question that you would like to see on an upcoming Testing Tuesday post), contact us and let us know!


Andrew Hartley is a certificated flight instructor and commercial pilot in Columbus, Ohio. He likes when google answers his stupid questions because it means he's not the only one asking google stupid questions.

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Ground reference maneuvers – rectangular course

Rectangular Course

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today on Smart Flight Training we'll discuss the final Private level ground reference maneuver - The Rectangular Course.

Previously, we've discussed the other two Private Pilot level ground reference maneuvers - turns around a point and s-turns.

The Rectangular Course is meant to simulate the legs of a traffic pattern: crosswind, downwind, base, and final/upwind, as well as the entry into the pattern: a 45-degree leg to downwind.

As with the other ground reference maneuvers, this one can be broken down into a number of important points.

You'll need to find an appropriate location to do this maneuver, which often will be a field, but can be anything that gives you a good, visible rectangle to fly around.  Make sure you have a good option for a place to land in case it becomes necessary (this is actually part of the evaluation of your performance of the maneuvers on your checkride).

As with all flight training maneuvers (stalls, steep turns, slow flight, anything), before entering this maneuver, clear the area using clearing turns, then enter the downwind at a 45-degree angle (point 1 on the above image).

You will start this maneuver a certain distance from the field you have chosen (or the quarry, or the pattern of roads, really anything that creates a rectangle large enough to fly around that allows you to have a period of level flight between the turns).  The distance you should be is generally between 1/2 a mile and 1-mile, depending on the strength of the wind.  Your goal is to remain the same distance from all sides of the field, correcting for the wind's effect on the airplane's course over the ground.

Below are descriptions of each point in a good rectangular course:

Point 1) Entry to the maneuver - a 45-degree entry to the downwind

Point 2) Turn from downwind to crosswind - because your groundspeed is highest on downwind, you will start this turn with the steepest bank (not a "steep turn," just the steepest turn compared to all the other turns you will do during the maneuver).  You will then slowly reduce the bank to a medium bank.  Additionally, you will turn more than 90-degrees, because you need to set up a crab angle into the wind so your ground track parallels the edge of the field on the "base" leg.

Point 3) Base Leg - here you are maintaining the distance from the field by crabbing the aircraft into the wind.  Adjust the crab angle if you find that you are getting closer or further away from the edge of the field.

Point 4) Turn from base to "final / upwind" - start this turn at a medium bank, and reduce the bank to shallow to maintain your distance from the field.  You'll turn less than 90-degrees, because you are already crabbed into the wind.  You bank becomes shallower during this turn because your groundspeed is slowing to it's slowest speed of the maneuver during the upwind leg.

Point 5) Upwind Leg - this is the leg with the slowest groundspeed, as you are flying directly into the wind. There is also no need for a crab since your nose is pointed directly into the wind; however, small corrections can be made to maintain your distance from the field if your turn into this leg was not perfect.

Point 6) Turn from upwind to crosswind - Due to your slow groundspeed on upwind, this turn starts shallow and gradually increases to a medium bank as you reach a parallel ground course.  Don't forget about the wind!  The turn will be less than 90-degrees, because you need to crab into the wind.

Point 7) Crosswind Leg - Your nose will be pointed away from the field so your ground track remains parallel to the edge of the field.  Again, adjust your crab angle if you find that you are getting further away or closer to the edge of the field.

Point 8) Turn from crosswind to downwind - This turn starts at a medium bank and increases to a relatively steep bank as your groundspeed increases, again so that you maintain the correct distance from the field for the downwind leg.

Point 9) Downwind Leg - because the wind is now directly behind you, your groundspeed is the fastest it will be during this leg of the maneuver.  No crab angle is needed.

You will be expected to be able to perform this maneuver (and all ground reference maneuvers) making both left turns and right turns, so you'll practice both directions.

Also, keep in mind that these maneuvers are not about perfection, but about recognition and correction of deviation.  In other words, if you find that you need to change your crab angle or steepen or lessen your bank to maintain your distance from the field, do it!  Your examiner will prefer that you correct any issues as soon as possible rather then let them continue and hope s/he doesn't notice.  Trust me, s/he will!

The other criteria for this maneuver, just like the other ground reference maneuvers, is to maintain a constant airspeed and altitude as well.  Your altitude should be between 600 to 1000 feet above ground level (AGL), and should be held within 150 feet.  Airspeed should be appropriate for your aircraft (shoot for a safe airspeed at or below maneuvering speed (Va)), and be held within 10 knots indicated airspeed (IAS).

If it has not been obvious from the above discussion, this maneuver is getting you ready to fly airport traffic patterns safely and consistently.  Practice makes perfect, and this is a maneuver that you will want to get right, because the ability to correct for the wind and fly a good pattern will directly affect your landings - which is generally what you will work on immediately after learning these maneuvers!

 


Please comment and tell us about your experience learning to fly the rectangular course. Do you have any tips or tricks to make it simple and consistent? Do you have any horror stories about it?

Andrew Hartley is a certificated flight instructor in Columbus, Ohio. Follow Smart Flight Training on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!

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Airspace: Aircraft Speed Limits

Sky SignOne of the benefits (and excitements) of learning to fly is that you have the ability to GO REALLY FAST.  "There are no speed limit signs in the sky," you might say.

You're absolutely right that there are no speed limit signs in the sky.  But that doesn't mean that there are no aircraft speed limits.  Because, in fact, there are.

The main thing to remember is that, in general, "if you go high, you can fly!" - Above 10,000 feet MSL (mean sea level - this means "above sea level") there are no aircraft speed limits.  You can fly as fast as your little heart (and the planes little - or not so little - motor) desires.

But below 10,000' MSL, you have to maintain an indicated airspeed at or below 250 knots (KIAS).  And that's not all.

If an airplane is within class B airspace, regardless of altitude, it is limited to 250 knots indicated airspeed. If it is flying "under the shelf" of class B airspace, it is limited to 200 knots indicated airspeed.  There are also areas called "class B corridors" where aircraft can fly without clearance into class B airspace, and in these corridors, they are limited to 200 knots indicated airspeed as well.

Regulations also state that at or below 2500 AGL (above ground level - over the ground), when within 4 nautical miles from a class C or class D airport, you cannot fly any faster than 200 knots indicated airspeed. Air Traffic Control (ATC) may ask an aircraft to deviate from the 200 KIAS limit, but cannot ask an aircraft to go faster than the 250 KIAS limit (though they can always ask you to go slower).

Generally, these rules are in place so that aircraft with wildly different performance aren't flying at all different speeds when they are likely to be near one another.  Additionally, the lower you go, the more likely you are to be flying with birds, and if you are flying more slowly, if you happen to hit a bird (known as a bird strike), you are less likely to do significant damage to your airplane, such that you would not be able to control and land it.

For those of you who want to see the actual regulation, see 14 CFR 91.117. The above information applies to aircraft speed limits in the United States, under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. Other countries may have different rules.


Have any more questions or comments about aircraft speed limits? Hurry up and tell us below!

Andrew Hartley is a Certificated Flight Instructor in Columbus, Ohio.

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