Friday, January 30, 2009

Discount Aviation Magazines

I found this way of getting discount aviation magazines through AOPA. Hopefully, many of you already know about it. It is a great way to get magazine subcriptions to Aviation Consumer, Aviation Safety, IFR Refresher, IFR, and Light Plane Maintenance magazines.

I have been getting Aviation Consumer, IFR Refresher and IFR magazines for a while this way. Aviation Consumer has a great set of unbiased articles about different aviation items you might need or want. A subscription to the magazine also gives you on-line access to all the old articles as well which is fantastic. IFR Refresher and IFR magazines are both great for keeping your mind thinking about IFR when you are not in the air practicing. I decided to let my IFR Refresher lapse for now while keeping IFR magazine, and now I am going to give Light Plane Maintenance a try. I do like doing my own oil changes and doing owner assisted annuals, so this should be a good one to try at least for a while.

If you haven't tried these magazines, I would highly recommend you at least give them a try. They are not super long magazines. But they are not full of ads, and they have great content.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Air Traffic Control Radio and Radar

Talking to Air Traffic Control can be nerve racking in the beginning or when you are out of practice. When you first go into a towered airport, get flight following for the first time, get an IFR clearance, or get an IFR approach clearance over the final approach fix, it can sound overwhelming. So much seems to be going on. The key is having a decent idea of what the ATC is going to be saying in general and most importantly what they will be telling you. If you can listen to a web-site like or get a Aviation Band Scanner, then you will have a much better idea. And it is a lot cheaper to learn on the ground than it is in the air!

Before talking always try to rehearse in your head what you are going to say. This always helps me. Who you are talking to, Who am I, Where am I, What do I want, and ATIS information if you have it. Metro Tower, Skylane 9699G, 10 Miles North, Inbound Full Stop with Foxtrot.

Then you have to be ready for the response. This is where it helps to listen on the ground. If I am coming from the north to Metro (KBJC), they will have me enter in a few different ways.

  1. Enter Right Downwind 29R abeam the tower report abeam the tower.
  2. Enter Right Base 29R report 2 mile base.
  3. Enter Left Base for 11L report 2 mile base.
  4. Fly to Marshall reservoir for a 5 mile final report over Marshall.

The tower can talk back pretty fast, and it can be a lot to take in. But if you know their response is one of four items, it gets pretty simple. It will be a little different for other airports or approaching from different directions. But the key is to have an idea of what they might say to your call.

Similar things happen for Flight Following, getting an IFR Clearance, or being approved for an IFR approach. There are fairly predictable responses from ATC. And you can hear all these things through or Aviation Band Scanner and sitting near your favorite airport without having to pay for an instructor or plane rental.

If anybody sees another or better collection of ATC Radio, please post a comment and let us know.


Airport Webcams

I recently found a web site that is great in a couple different ways. It has Web Cams, live radar from Air Traffic Control coupled with radio, and live Air Traffic Control Radio without radar.

Web cams can be fun to look at and this web site has the largest collection I have seen. It has airports from large ones down to Smiley Creek and Johnson Creek in Idaho.

This is fun, but I think the other jewel in this web site is the ATC information. I find listening to live Air Traffic Control very useful at times. Especially when I was a new pilot or working towards my IFR rating. I'll mention this in my next post.