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E6-B Video Tutorials

This week, take a look at our easy to follow E6-B video tutorials on our YouTube channel:

 

 

 

Check out ASA’s YouTube channel for more tutorials and training videos. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter to get the latest information on new products and updates.

Please feel free to leave comments on any Learn to Fly Blog post. Send us your feedback and suggestions of topics you’d like to see covered on the Learn to Fly Blog to L2F@asa2fly.com!

The Learn to Fly Blog will return next Monday with a new post on weather services. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

2014Thanksgiving

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CFI Brief: Runway Incursion

If you take a look in the Private Pilot Practical Test Standards you will note a section called “Special Emphasis Areas.” The section lists several areas in relation to aircraft operations that are considered critical to flight safety. It will be the examiners job during a practical test to place special emphasis on each listed area. Therefore, it will be your job to be very familiar with each of the special emphasis areas listed.

Excerpt from the Private Pilot PTS displaying the Special Emphasis Areas.

Excerpt from the Private Pilot PTS displaying the Special Emphasis Areas.

Runway incursion avoidance is one of the special emphasis areas listed in the Private Pilot PTS. Airports can be rather confusing, particularly those located in Class C or B airspace. Not all student pilots will get the opportunity to fly into one of these airports with their CFI simply because one may not be located close by. However, if you do get the chance it can be an invaluable learning experience.

An airport located in controlled airspace like C or B caters to a much higher volume of air traffic and aircraft that are much larger in size than your typical trainer or general aviation airplane. You will find the airport surface environments here to be a lot larger in size, consisting of larger runways and taxiways and possibly additional safety features like runway status lights. There will often be more complex intersections with multiple taxiways and converging runways. Navigating an unfamiliar airport can be challenging and stressful even for the most experienced pilots. Mistakes happen and may result in a runway incursion but it is our job as pilots to minimize the risk of this occurring. We do this through proper knowledge and planning.

Pilots learn about airport operations, signs, markings, and general safety practices during training, and while we may know how to read signs and markings it is often not enough to safely operate in a busy, unfamiliar airport environment. Airport diagrams and other helpful airport information can be found in the most current version of the Airport Facility Directory (AF/D) for a particular region. Before operating at an unfamiliar airport, it is important for a pilot to become familiar with that airport by reviewing an airport diagram. Areas on the airport found to be particularly complex and/or confusing will be labeled as HOT SPOTS. Many times accidents, incidents, or runway incursions have been known to occur in these areas and airport diagrams often point them out (see image below). The AF/D will also provide a textual description of each HOT SPOT area listed. Try to pre-plan your expected route to/from the runway and have a good idea of where your final destination is ahead of time. Never be afraid to ask ATC for help; request progressive taxi instructions from the tower and they will assist you with step by step instructions on where to go. ATC would rather spend 5 minutes assisting you to and from the runway than to run the risk of a runway incursion.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport diagram depicting 3 Hot Spot locations.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport diagram depicting 3 Hot Spot locations.

Here is a recreation of an actual runway incursion that took place at Charlotte International airport between a CRJ and PC12:

KCLT Runway Incursion Animation

What went wrong here? If you were the pilot of the PC12 what could you have done differently to prevent this from occurring? What resources were available to the pilot that that could have helped him? Let us know in the comments section.

You can also check out the latest issue of the CALLBACK newsletter from the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System. You will find some great information and report excerpts from actual events.

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Procedures and Airport Operations: The Airport

Today’s post comes from Bob Gardner‘s The Complete Private Pilot, an excellent resource for anyone working to earn their private pilot license.

At any airport, you will have to be able to identify the runway in use, taxi safely, be aware of wake turbulence hazards, deal with the line crew, know who (if anyone) controls your actions, interpret lights and markings, etc.

As your flying experience expands to include more airports, you will find some features that they all have in common. For instance, all runways are numbered according to their direction in relation to magnetic north, to the closest 10°. A runway laid out 078° from magnetic north would be numbered 8: rounded off to 080° and the zeros dropped. The opposite end of the runway would be numbered 26, the reciprocal (Figure 1). Some large airports have parallel runways which are identified as left, right, or center: runway 27R, runway 6L, etc. Be sure to set your heading indicator to agree with the runway number before takeoff.

Figure 1: Runway numbering.

Figure 1. Runway numbering.

You will normally take off and land into the wind; the wind indicator tells the direction the wind is blowing from. Every airport should have some form of wind indicator or landing direction indicator. Figure 2 shows several types of landing direction indicators: the tetrahedron, the windsock, and the wind tee. All of the indicators in the illustration indicate a wind from the west. Sport pilots must be especially sensitive to wind direction and velocity and the presence of gusts, because light sport aircraft must be flown all the way to the ground, unlike planes weighing more than 1,320 pounds that can “punch through” gusts.

Figure 2. Wind indications.

Figure 2. Wind indications.

At some airports, the tetrahedron or wind tee may be tied down to show the favored runway and will not accurately reflect wind conditions. Always observe what other pilots in the pattern are doing and conform with the pattern in use; if there are no other airplanes in the pattern it is your choice. Figures 3 and 4 show landing strip indicators and landing pattern indicators—the landing strip indicators parallel the runways and the landing pattern indicators show the direction traffic flows to and from the runways. Your pattern should conform with the traffic flow indicated for the runway in use. See Figure 4.

Figure 3. Landing strip and pattern indicators.

Figure 3. Landing strip and pattern indicators.

Figure 4. Pattern markings.

Figure 4. Pattern markings.

Although the standard traffic pattern uses a left-hand pattern, frequently terrain or the presence of a congested area dictate the use of a right-hand pattern. Figure 5 shows pattern indicators which keep traffic from overflying the area northwest of the water tank. Where there are no pattern indicators, the regulations require that all turns in the pattern be made to the left. When you fly over an unfamiliar airport and do not see a pattern indicator, you are safe in assuming a left-hand pattern. If an airport requires a right-hand pattern for any runway, the data block on the sectional chart will have a notation such as “RP 11 16,” indicating that runways 11 and 16 have right-hand patterns. If the notation includes an asterisk: *RP 12, the right-hand pattern is in effect only during certain hours—check the A/FD for details.

Figure 5. Traffic Pattern indicators.

Figure 5. Traffic Pattern indicators.

Figure 6 shows the FAA recommended standard left-hand traffic pattern with arrival and departure procedures (note the recommended—not required—45° entry to the downwind leg…but understand that almost everyone uses this entry). If the airport has an FAA required traffic pattern, you must use that pattern (few airports have such patterns —14 CFR Part 93 lists them). Don’t let courthouse lawyers tell you that the right turn onto the downwind leg shown at position 1 in Figure 6 is a violation of the left turn rule—you are not “in the pattern” until you have completed that turn. You should always be at pattern altitude when on the 45; never descend into the pattern.

Figure 6. Diagram from AC 90-66A.

Figure 6. Diagram from AC 90-66A.

Not illustrated but frequently used is the downwind departure. In the illustration, airplane #’s 5 and 6 are departing in the direction of takeoff…but what if their destination is in the opposite direction? Then they perform (or ask the tower for) a downwind departure. To avoid conflict with airplanes entering the pattern on the 45, pilots performing downwind departures should climb as indicated by plane #5 until well above pattern altitude before turning downwind.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that not all pilots observe recommended procedures. You must be alert to the possibility that another pilot is entering the pattern from a different direction, or straight in—instrument students almost always make straight-in approaches. The instrument runway might not be the one in use by VFR pilots. Listen carefully to the position reports by other pilots, and expect the unexpected.

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CFI Brief: VOR

On and around airports, or even driving out in the countryside in an open field, you may see what resembles a giant bowling pin type structure usually surrounded by a security fence. This structure you see is most likely what we in aviation refer to as a VOR. However, not always shaped like a bowling pin, VORs come in all forms and sizes, but the role they play in navigation is equally important. Here is an excerpt from the ASA 2015 Private Pilot Test Prep.

The VHF Omnidirectional Range (VOR) is the backbone of the National Airway System, and this radio aid to navigation (NAVAID) provides guidance to pilots operating under visual flight rules as well as those flying instruments.

On sectional aeronautical charts, VOR locations are shown by blue symbols centered in a blue compass rose which is oriented to Magnetic North. A blue identification box adjacent to the VOR symbol lists the name and frequency of the facility, its three-letter identifier and Morse Code equivalent, and other information as appropriate. For example: a small solid blue square in the bottom right hand corner indicates Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS) are available. See the “Radio Aids to Navigation and Communications Box” information in FAA Legend 1.

Some VORs have a voice identification alternating with the Morse Code identifier. Absence of the identifier indicates the facility is unreliable or undergoing routine maintenance; in either case, it should not be used for navigation. Some VORs also transmit a T-E-S-T code when undergoing maintenance.

The VOR station continuously transmits navigation signals, providing 360 magnetic courses to or radials from the station. Courses are TO the station and radials are FROM the station.

TACAN, a military system which provides directional guidance, also informs the pilot of the aircraft’s distance from the TACAN Station. When a VOR and a TACAN are co-located, the facility is called a VORTAC. Civil pilots may receive both azimuth and distance information from a VORTAC.

At some VOR sites, additional equipment has been installed to provide pilots with distance information. Such an installation is termed a VOR/DME (for “distance measuring equipment”).

Click to enlarge!

Click to enlarge!

1. (Refer to the figure above.) On what course should the VOR receiver (OBS) be set to navigate direct from Hampton Varnville Airport (area 1) to Savannah VORTAC (area 3)?
A—003°.
B—195°.
C—200°.

2. (Refer to the figure above.) What is the approximate position of the aircraft if the VOR receivers indicate the 320° radial of Savannah VORTAC (area 3) and the 184° radial of Allendale VOR (area 1)?
A—Southeast of Guyton.
B—Town of Springfield.
C—3 miles east of Marlow.

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Navigation: Introduction

Navigation is the process of piloting an aircraft from one geographic position to another while monitoring one’s position as the flight progresses. It introduces the need for planning, which includes plotting the course on an aeronautical chart, selecting checkpoints, measuring distances, obtaining pertinent weather information, and computing flight time, headings, and fuel requirements. There are many methods of navigation used by pilots to reach their destination including pilotage, dead reckoning, radio navigation, and even celestial navigation. This brief introduction comes from the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.

Pilotage
Pilotage is navigation by reference to landmarks or checkpoints. It is a method of navigation that can be used on any course that has adequate checkpoints, but is more commonly used in conjunction with dead reckoning and VFR radio navigation.

The checkpoints selected should be prominent features common to the area of the flight. Choose checkpoints that can be readily identified by other features such as roads, rivers, railroad tracks, lakes, and power lines. If possible, select features that make useful boundaries or brackets on each side of the course, such as mountains. A pilot can keep from drifting too far off course by referring to and not crossing the selected brackets. Never place complete reliance on any single checkpoint. If one is missed, look for the next one while maintaining the heading.

Dead Reckoning
Dead reckoning is navigation solely by means of computations based on time, airspeed, distance, and direction. The products derived from these variables, when adjusted by wind speed and velocity, are heading and groundspeed. The predicted heading takes the aircraft along the intended path and the groundspeed establishes the time to arrive at each checkpoint and the destination. Except for flights over water, dead reckoning is usually used with pilotage for cross-country flying. The heading and groundspeed as calculated is constantly monitored and corrected by pilotage as observed from checkpoints.

Radio Navigation
Advances in navigational radio receivers installed in aircraft, the development of aeronautical charts which show the exact location of ground transmitting stations and their frequencies, along with refined flight deck instrumentation make it possible for pilots to navigate with precision to almost any point desired. Although precision in navigation is obtainable through proper use of this equipment, beginning pilots should use this equipment to supplement navigation by visual reference to the ground (pilotage). This method provides the pilot with an effective safeguard against disorientation in the event of radio malfunction.

A detailed introduction to navigation can be found in the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, a foundational FAA Handbook for anyone learning to fly.

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CFI Brief: Hypoxia

Monday’s ground school post had some great information on hypoxia; if you have not yet read it I would suggest doing so. Throughout your aviation training you will continually learn about aeromedical factors that affect pilots such as hypoxia which in my opinion is one of the most dangerous things a pilot can encounter. Just look at some of the common symptoms: euphoria, visual disturbances, dizziness, confused thinking, apprehension, sense of well-being…I mean, can you imagine as a pilot experiencing even just one of these symptoms? The big problem with hypoxia is that it sneaks up on you and as a pilot you may not realize you have become hypoxic.

In July 2008 the flight crew of Kalitta 66 on a cargo run to Ypsilanti, Michigan suffered hypoxia. If not for the quick thinking and assistance from ATC this flight could have had a tragic ending.  The ATC audio recording can be found below. Rather than continuing to talk about hypoxia, take a listen to the audio, that should put it in perspective for you.

http://media.natca.org/conferences/archieawards/2009/audio/greatlakes-region2.mp3

You can hear in the audio track the pilot’s slow speech and difficulty with communication. At one point he states that he is unable to control the altitude and airspeed of the aircraft and then seconds later proceeds to say “everything is A-OK!”—a prime example of the euphoria a hypoxic victim might experience.

A few years back, I was on a return flight home from Burbank airport in LA after spending the day at Six Flags with a few friends. We departed the airport VFR just after 10 PM en-route to San Diego. The planned route would take us about 4 miles off the coast at 7,500 MSL, and the weather was great, as usual for SoCal. About 30 minutes in, I noticed my two buddies in the aft seats laughing up a storm. I inquired as to what was so funny. They didn’t know, it just seemed like they were having the time of their lives. A few more minutes went by and they were still back there laughing when it finally dawned on me, I bet these two are getting hypoxic. Remember, hypoxia can occur as low as 5,000 feet when flying at night (symptoms will most likely first affect night vision). We had all just spent the day walking around six flags in the heat and we were all pretty worn out, this was also my buddies’ first time flying in a non-pressurized aircraft (all contributing factors). I initially thought to myself “this is pretty funny,” but began to realize the implications if I was to join them in their hypoxic state.

We ended up descending down to 5,500 and landed back home 20 minutes later. Once on the ground I explained to them what I thought may have happened causing them to have the backseat giggles. For me, this was a great learning experience and gave me a story to share with future and current pilots.

Do you have a story relating to hypoxia? Share in the comments section below, we would love to hear it.

1. Which statement best defines hypoxia?
A—A state of oxygen deficiency in the body.
B—An abnormal increase in the volume of air breathed.
C—A condition of gas bubble formation around the joints or muscles.

2. Susceptibility to carbon monoxide poisoning increases as
A—altitude increases.
B—altitude decreases.
C—air pressure increases.

Answers will be posted Monday in the comments section, good luck!

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Ground School: Hypoxia

This introduction to hypoxia is excerpted from the FAA’s Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, available from ASA.

Hypoxia means “reduced oxygen” or “not enough oxygen.” Although any tissue will die if deprived of oxygen long enough, usually the most concern is with getting enough oxygen to the brain, since it is particularly vulnerable to oxygen deprivation. Any reduction in mental function while flying can result in life-threatening errors. Hypoxia can be caused by several factors, including an insufficient supply of oxygen, inadequate transportation of oxygen, or the inability of the body tissues to use oxygen.

Symptoms of Hypoxia
Oxygen starvation causes the brain and other vital organs to become impaired. One noteworthy attribuite of the onset of hypoxia is that the first symptoms are euphoria and a carefree feeling. With increased oxygen starvation, the extremities become less responsive and flying becomes less coordinated. The symptoms of hypoxia vary with the individual, but common symptoms include:

ASA-CO-D

Portable peace of mind. Click the image to learn more.

  • Cyanosis (blue fingernails and lips)
  • Headache
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Impaired judgment
  • Euphoria
  • Visual impairment
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheaded or dizzy sensation
  • Tingling in fingers and toes
  • Numbness

As hypoxia worsens, the field of vision begins to narrow, and instrument interpretation can become difficult. Even with all these symptoms, the effects of hypoxia can cause a pilot to have a false sense of security and be deceived into believing everything is normal. The treatment for hypoxia includes flying at lower altitudes and/or using supplemental oxygen.

All pilots are susceptible to the effects of oxygen starvation, regardless of physical endurance or acclimatization. When flying at high altitudes, it is paramount that oxygen be used to avoid the effects of hypoxia. The term “time of useful consciousness” describes the maximum time the pilot has to make rational, life-saving decisions and carry them out at a given altitude without supplemental oxygen. As altitude increases above 10,000 feet, the symptoms of hypoxia increase in severity, and the time of useful consciousness rapidly decreases.

Time of useful consciousness.

Time of useful consciousness.

Since the symptoms of hypoxia can be different for each individual, the ability to recognize hypoxia can be greatly improved by experiencing and witnessing the effects of it during an altitude chamber “flight.” The FAA provides this opporotunity through aviation physiology training, which is conducted at the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) and at many military facilities across the United States. For information about the FAA’s one-day physiology training course with altitude chamber and vertigo demonstrations, visit the FAA Aerospace Physiology Training website (a link to the CAMI enrollment application can be found here).

More information about aeromedical factors, including physiological factors affecting pilot performance, can be found in the FAA’s Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, available from ASA.

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CFI Brief: Latitude and Longitude

This week’s focus on the blog is aeronautical charts, specifically charts designed for VFR pilots. An overview of the Terminal, Sectional, and World Aeronautical charts was given in Mondays post and can be found here. Each one of these charts provides a wealth of aeronautical information on airports, airways, airspace, special use airspace, and even terrain. However what I would like to focus on today is how to identify a geographic coordinate using one of these aforementioned VFR charts. To do this we first need to understand the lines of longitude and latitude that are depicted on the chart.

To identify a point on the surface of the earth, a geographic coordinate, or “grid” system was devised. By reference to meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude, any position may be accurately located when using the grid system.

Equidistant from the poles is an imaginary circle called the equator. The lines running east and west, parallel to the equator are called parallels of latitude, and are used to measure angular distance north or south of the equator. From the equator to either pole is 90°, with 0° being at the equator; while 90° north latitude describes the location of the North Pole.

Meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude.

Meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude.

Lines called meridians of longitude are drawn from pole to pole at right angles to the equator. The prime meridian, used as the zero degree line, passes through Greenwich, England. From this line, measurements are made in degrees both easterly and westerly up to 180°.

Any specific geographical point can be located by reference to its longitude and latitude. For example, Washington, DC is approximately 39° north of the equator and 77° west of the prime meridian and would be stated as 39°N 77°W. Note that latitude is stated first.

In order to describe a location more precisely, each degree (°) is subdivided into 60 minutes (‘) and each minute further divided into 60 seconds (“), although seconds are not shown. Thus, the location of the airport at Elk City, Oklahoma is described as being at 35°25’55″N 99°23’15″W (35 degrees, 25 minutes, 55 seconds north latitude; 99 degrees, 23 minutes, 15 seconds west longitude). Degrees of west longitude increase from east to west. Degrees of north latitude increase from south to north.

In the figure below you will see Elk City airport, notice in the bottom right corner the numbers 35 and 99 which depict the latitude and longitude. Beginning with the latitude of 35° North count the tick marks up until you reach Elk City airport at about 26. Remember each tick mark represents 1 minute, so our latitude is 35° (degrees) 26’ (minutes)  North. You will do the same for longitude; note that as you move right to left your lines of longitude will be increasing. By the time you get to Elk City airport you will have counted 23 tick marks representing 23 minutes. Therefor the longitude is 99° (degrees) 23’ (minutes) W. Remember the VFR charts do not depict seconds so it’s best to round off to the closest minute mark.

Elk City airport -- Click image to enlarge!

Elk City airport — Click image to enlarge!

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Navigation: Aeronautical Charts

This introduction to aeronautical charts comes from the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, a foundational text for any student pilot.

An aeronautical chart is the road map for a pilot flying under VFR. The chart provides information which allows pilots to track their position and provides available information which enhances safety. The three aeronautical charts used by VFR pilots are sectional charts, VFR terminal area charts, and world aeronautical charts.

Sectional Charts
Sectional charts are the most common charts used by pilots today. The charts have a scale of 1:500,000 (1 inch = 6.86 nautical miles (NM) or approximately 8 statute miles (SM)) which allows for more detailed information to be included on the chart.

The charts provide an abundance of information, including airport data, navigational aids, airspace, and topography. The figure below is an excerpt from the legend of a sectional chart. By referring to the chart legend, a pilot can interpret most of the information on the chart. A pilot should also check the chart for other legend information, which includes air traffic control (ATC) frequencies and information on airspace. These charts are revised semiannually except for some areas outside the conterminous United States where they are revised annually.

Sectional chart and legend.

Sectional chart and legend.


VFR Terminal Area Charts
VFR terminal area charts are helpful when flying in or near Class B airspace. They have a scale of 1:250,000 (1 inch = 3.43 NM or approximately 4 SM). These charts provide a more detailed display of topographical information and are revised semiannually, except for several Alaskan and Caribbean charts.
VFR terminal area chart and legend.

VFR terminal area chart and legend.


World Aeronautical Charts
World aeronautical charts are designed to provide a standard series of aeronautical charts, covering land areas of the world, at a size and scale convenient for navigation by moderate speed aircraft. They are produced at a scale of 1:1,000,000 (1 inch = 13.7 NM or approximately 16 SM). These charts are similar to sectional charts and the symbols are the same except there is less detail due to the smaller scale. These charts are revised annually except for several Alaskan charts and the Mexican/Caribbean charts which are revised every two years.
World aeronautical chart.

World aeronautical chart.


A detailed introduction to using aeronautical charts, as well as how they are used in conjunction with navigation can be found in the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, available from ASA.

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CFI Brief: What causes weather?

The theory of weather is a complex yet intriguing topic to discuss. It’s often joked that by the time you complete training you’re an amateur meteorologist. Joke or not, that statement is fairly accurate. Weather can be one of the key factors in determining a go/no-go decision and to make an accurate assessment it is important for the pilot in command to understand the full spectrum of what causes weather.

Let’s start with the most basic and determine the overall source of where weather comes from. Below is an excerpt from ASA’s 2015 Private Pilot Test Prep.

The major source of all weather is the sun. Changes or variations of weather patterns are caused by the unequal heating of the Earth’s surface. Every physical process of weather is accompanied by or is a result of unequal heating of the Earth’s surface.

The heating of the Earth (and therefore the heating of the air surrounding the Earth) is unequal around the entire planet. Both north or south of the equator, one square foot of sunrays is not concentrated over one square foot of the surface, but over a larger area. This lower concentration of sunrays produces less radiation of heat over a given surface area; therefore, less atmospheric heating takes place in that area.

The unequal heating of the Earth’s atmosphere creates a large air-cell circulation pattern (wind) because the warmer air has a tendency to rise (low pressure) and the colder air has a tendency to settle or descend (high pressure) and replace the rising warmer air. This unequal heating, which causes pressure variations, will also cause variations in altimeter settings between weather reporting points.

Because the Earth rotates, this large, simple air-cell circulation pattern is greatly distorted by a phenomenon known as the Coriolis force. When the wind (which is created by high pressure trying to flow into low pressure) first begins to move at higher altitudes, the Coriolis force deflects it to the right (in the Northern Hemisphere) causing it to flow parallel to the isobars (lines of equal pressure). These deflections of the large-cell circulation pattern create general wind patterns as depicted in the figure below.

Prevailing wind systems.

Prevailing wind systems.

Let’s take a look at a few questions you might encounter on your FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Test. I will post the answers Monday morning in the comments section.

1. Every physical process of weather is accompanied by, or is the result of, a
A—movement of air.
B—pressure differential.
C—heat exchange.

2. What causes variations in altimeter settings between weather reporting points?
A—Unequal heating of the Earth’s surface.
B—Variation of terrain elevation.
C—Coriolis force.

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