CFI Brief: Effects of Weight on Performance

So over the last two weeks while away at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, I may have overindulged a bit too much in deep fried cheese curds. This has unfortunately resulted in a slight weight increase around my waistline and has more than likely affected my athletic performance. Not to compare myself to an airplane, but the same can be said with regards to how an increase in weight will affect the performance of an aircraft. When weight, whether it is in the form of fuel, passengers, or cargo is added to an aircraft you will start to notice a performance decrease.

To help understand this concept think back to aerodynamics and the four forces, two in particular, lift and weight. In order to climb, lift needs to exceed weight and to remain in level flight, lift will need to equal weight. So essentially, the heavier the airplane is, the more lift the wings will need to produce, resulting in a greater angle of attack, increased airspeed, or a combination of both. A maximum weight is specified for each aircraft as determined by the manufacturer. Any increase in weight exceeding this will severely diminish aircraft performance resulting in unsafe aircraft characteristics.

Lift vs Weight

Lift = Weight

The Pilots Manual Ground School text outlines several performance characteristics caused by a heavier airplane these include:

  • a higher stall speed;
  • a higher takeoff speed and a longer takeoff run;
  • poorer climb performance (poorer climb angle and climb rate);
  • a lower cruising level;
  • less maneuverability;
  • higher fuel consumption, and less range and endurance;
  • reduced cruise speed for a given power setting;
  • a higher landing speed and a longer landing distance; and
  • greater braking requirements when stopping.

For example, a higher takeoff speed will be required to generate additional lift to counteract an increase in weight and drag resulting in a longer takeoff run. As discussed briefly above the airplane will require a greater angle of attack as weight is increased. Increasing the angle of attack will increase drag resulting in higher fuel consumption and less range and endurance. With increases in drag due to the greater angle of attack you will see reduced cruise speeds for a given power setting. This may correlate to increasing power settings to maintain specified cruising speeds contributing to higher fuel burns.

Image from The Pilots Manual Groundschool text book.

Image from The Pilots Manual Groundschool text book.

With that said, you can see how a simple change in weight will effect a myriad of other performance factors. It’s ok and perfectly safe to operate at maximum weight but as a pilot you should understand the effects and changes that weight will have on performance. You should also fully comprehend the dangers of flying above maximum gross weight.

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Aircraft Performance: Computing Weight and Balance With a Graph

We’ve already introduced the importance of weight and balance consideration during your preflight planning, and touched on using the table method to compute weight and balance problems. Our CFI even walked us through some sample problems back in May. Today we’ll talk about another method, using a graph, to reliably compute weight and balance to insure your safety. Words and pictures this week come from Bob Gardner’s indispensable text The Complete Private Pilot.

Let’s first review the important weight and balance terms: arm and moment. The easiest way to visualize these terms is to go back to your childhood teeter-totter. Assume that it was 12 feet long, pivoted in the center, and you weighed 50 pounds. When you sat on one end of the teeter-totter the arm (distance from the pivot point to your seat) was 6 feet, making the moment (your weight times the arm) 300 foot-pounds. A 50-pound friend siting on the other end of the board an equal distance from the center would balance the teeter-totter. Without a 50-pound friend, though, to have any fun at all you’d need a 100-pound playmate on the other end of the board 3 feet from the pivot point, or maybe a 75-pound friend 4 feet from the pivot point. To balance, in other words, there had to be a moment of 300 foot-pounds on either side of the pivot. The airplane manufacturer provides data on the distance (arm) from a datum point which you can multiply times the weight of fuel, baggage, or passengers to derive the moment. You may have to interpolate between given weights if your passengers, baggage, or fuel load do not exactly match the tabulated values.

NOTE: do not, under any circumstances, use the sample weight-and-balance data from the Approved Flight Manual; it doesn’t apply to the specific airplane you are going to fly, and it is an easy way to fail an oral exam!

The figure below shows a graphic method of presenting the weight and balance information and determining the position of the center of gravity. To avoid large confusing numbers, moments are presented as moment/1,000. As weights are shifted around within the airplane by moving baggage from forward compartments to aft compartments, by moving passengers, or even extending and retracting the landing-gear, the center of gravity (CG) follows the weight—if the weight moves aft so does the CG.

Loading graph.

Loading graph.

Using the figure above to calculate the CG and determine the plotted position on the CG moment envelope chart.

Weight Mom/1,000
Empty weight 1,350 51.5
Pilot and front passenger 380
Fuel 48 gal 288
Oil 8 qts 15

From the loading graph, find the moment/1,000 for pilot and front seat passenger weight of 389 pounds: 14.0. Find the moment/1,000 for 288 pounds of fuel: 13.8. Total weight = 2,033 pounds, total moment/1,000 = 79.1. Center of gravity = total moment ÷ total weight = 79,100 ÷ 2,033 = 38.9. Plot on the center of gravity moment envelope a weight of 2,033 pounds and a moment/1,000 of 79.1; the plotted point falls in the normal category area.

As always, we’ll have more on Thursday from our CFI!

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We are just about halfway through AirVenture 2015! Team ASA has been having a great time so far networking, meeting our customers, and checking out all the cool planes and exhibits. Come on by if you have not yet had a chance, we are here in Hangar B, booth 2075-2079 to answer any questions and get you set up with that perfect ASA product you have been looking for.

Here are a few pictures so far of what we have been up to. And if you’re not here this time around, there is always next year!
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image2 2

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Weather Services: Aviation Area Forecast (FA)

Observed weather condition reports are often used in the creation of forecasts for the same area. A variety of different forecast products are produced and designed to be used in the preflight planning stage. The printed forecasts that pilots need to be familiar with are the terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF), aviation area forecast (FA), inflight weather advisories (SIGMET, AIRMET), and the winds and temperatures aloft forecast (FD). Today, we’ll take a closer look at the FA. This post is excerpted from the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.

The FA gives a picture of clouds, general weather conditions, and visual meteorological conditions (VMC) expected over a large area encompassing several states. There are six areas for which area forecasts are published in the contiguous 48 states. Area forecasts are issued three times a day and are valid for 18 hours. This type of forecast gives information vital to en route operations, as well as forecast information for smaller airports that do not have terminal forecasts.

Area forecasts are typically disseminated in four sections and include the following information:

1. Header—gives the location identifier of the source of the FA, the date and time of issuance, the valid forecast time, and the area of coverage.

DFWC FA 120945
CLDS/WX VALID UNTIL 122200…OTLK VALID 122200-130400

The area forecast shows information given by Dallas Fort Worth, for the region of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, as well as a portion of the Gulf coastal waters. It was issued on the 12th day of the month at 0945. The synopsis is valid from the time of issuance until 0400 hours on the 13th. VFR clouds and weather information on this area forecast are valid until 2200 hours on the 12th and the outlook is valid until 0400 hours on the 13th.

2. Precautionary statements—IFR conditions, mountain obscurations, and thunderstorm hazards are described in this section. Statements made here regarding height are given in MSL, and if given otherwise, AGL or ceiling (CIG) will be noted.


The area forecast covers VFR clouds and weather, so the precautionary statement warns that AIRMET Sierra should be referenced for IFR conditions and mountain obscuration. The code TS indicates the possibility of thunderstorms and implies there may be occurrences of severe or greater turbulence, severe icing, low-level wind shear, and IFR conditions. The final line of the precautionary statement alerts the user that heights, for the most part, are MSL. Those that are not MSL will be AGL or CIG

3. Synopsis—gives a brief summary identifying the location and movement of pressure systems, fronts, and circulation patterns.


As of 1000Z, there is a low pressure trough over the Oklahoma and Texas panhandle area, which is forecast to move eastward into central southwestern Oklahoma by 0400Z. A warm front located over central Oklahoma, southern Arkansas, and northern Mississippi at 1000Z is forecast to lift northwestward into northeastern Oklahoma, northern Arkansas, and extreme northern Mississippi by 0400Z.

4. VFR Clouds and Weather—This section lists expected sky conditions, visibility, and weather for the next 12 hours and an outlook for the following 6 hours.

AGL SCT-BKN010. TOPS 030. VIS 3-5SM BR. 14-16Z BECMG AGL SCT030. 19Z AGL SCT050.

In south central and southeastern Texas, there is a scattered to broken layer of clouds from 1,000 feet AGL with tops at 3,000 feet, visibility is 3 to 5 sm in mist. Between 1400Z and 1600Z, the cloud bases are expected to increase to 3,000 feet AGL. After 1900Z, the cloud bases are expected to continue to increase to 5,000 feet AGL and the outlook is VFR.

In northwestern Oklahoma and panhandle, the clouds are scattered at 3,000 feet with another scattered to broken layer at 10,000 feet AGL, with the tops at 20,000 feet. At 1500Z, the lowest cloud base is expected to increase to 4,000 feet AGL with a scattered layer at 10,000 feet AGL. After 2000Z, the forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms with rain developing and a few becoming severe; the CB clouds will have tops at flight level 450 or 45,000 feet MSL.

It should be noted that when information is given in the area forecast, locations may be given by states, regions, or specific geological features such as mountain ranges. Figure 1 shows an area forecast chart with six regions of forecast, states, regional areas, and common geographical features.

Figure 1. Area forecast region map.

Figure 1. Area forecast region map.

Check back in on Thursday for an EAA AirVenture 2015 dispatch from our CFI! Come see us in Hangar B at booth 2075-2079 this week!

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CFI Brief: Identifying Clouds

Today we are going to spend some time on the subject of clouds. Understanding the various types of clouds is important to pilots as clouds are direct indicators of the type of weather that one can expect. Having the ability to understand and correlate the meaning of a particular cloud as it relates to weather will enable you as a pilot to draw a better overall picture of conditions that may affect your flight.

Towering Cumulus

Towering Cumulus

Firstly, clouds are classified into one of four families solely by their height: low, middle, high, and clouds with extensive vertical development. Low-level clouds are those clouds from the surface to 6,500 feet AGL. Common types are stratus, stratocumulus, nimbostratus and even fog. These are the types of clouds that will often hamper your ability to fly by visual flight rules. Middle clouds range from 6,500 AGL up to 20,000 feet AGL. These include altostratus, altocumulus, and nimbostratus types. Things to anticipate in these types of clouds are turbulence and the possibility of icing. High clouds, not often encountered by the Private Pilots, form above 20,000 feet AGL and do not normally pose any real threat of icing conditions or turbulence. Types include cirrus, cirrostratus, and cirrocumulus. Lastly we have clouds with extensive vertical development, like towering cumulus and cumulonimbus types. These form anywhere in the low or middle cloud level and may extend high into the sky. This family of clouds paints a picture of instability in the atmosphere and is associated with turbulent rough air and the possibility of hazardous weather conditions.

Beyond the four families of height, clouds are named by type according to the composition and appearance.

Cumulus—heaped or piled clouds (mashed potatoes)

Stratus—formed in layers

Cirrus—fibrous clouds and those above 20,000 feet AGL

Castellanus—often looks like a tiered weeding cake or castle, a single base with separate vertical development

Lenticularus—similar appearance to a lens, encountered in mountainous areas and formed with strong winds

Nimbus—rain clouds


Alto—clouds from 5,000 to 20,000 feet AGL

So, for example, a cumulonimbus cloud would be a mashed potato looking cloud with rain as seen in the figure below.

Cloud Families and Types

Cloud Families and Types

Below are a few questions that you may possibly encounter on the Private Pilot Knowledge Exam. See if you can answer them from the information provided in this week’s post. For additional information, check out Chapter 11 of the Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.

1. If an unstable air mass is forced upward, what type clouds can be expected?
A—Stratus clouds with little vertical development.
B—Stratus clouds with considerable associated turbulence.
C—Clouds with considerable vertical development and associated turbulence.

2. The suffix ‘nimbus,’ used in naming clouds, means
A—a cloud with extensive vertical development.
B—a rain cloud.
C—a middle cloud containing ice pellets.

3. Clouds are divided into four families according to their
A—outward shape.
B—height range.

4. What clouds have the greatest turbulence?
A—Towering cumulus.

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Weather: Temperature and Atmosphere

Today we’ll think about the effect of temperature on the weather. We’ve covered how solar energy from the sun drives all atmospheric and geological processes on Earth, so now we’ll address it’s role in atmospheric stability. Words and pictures in this post come from the FAA’s Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.

Atmospheric Stability
The stability of the atmosphere depends on its ability to resist vertical motion. A stable atmosphere makes vertical movement difficult, and small vertical disturbances dampen out and disappear. In an unstable atmosphere, small vertical air movements tend to become larger, resulting in turbulent airflow and convective activity. Instability can lead to significant turbulence, extensive vertical clouds, and severe weather.

Rising air expands and cools due to the decrease in air pressure as altitude increases. The opposite is true of descending air; as atmospheric pressure increases, the temperature of descending air increases as it is compressed. Adiabatic heating and adiabatic cooling are terms used to describe this temperature change.

The adiabatic process takes place in all upward and downward moving air. When air rises into an area of lower pressure, it expands to a larger volume. As the molecules of air expand, the temperature of the air lowers. As a result, when a parcel of air rises, pressure decreases, volume increases, and temperature decreases. When air descends, the opposite is true. The rate at which temperature decreases with an increase in altitude is referred to as its lapse rate. As air ascends through the atmosphere, the average rate of temperature change is 2°C (3.5°F) per 1,000 feet.

Since water vapor is lighter than air, moisture decreases air density, causing it to rise. Conversely, as moisture decreases, air becomes denser and tends to sink. Since moist air cools at a slower rate, it is generally less stable than dry air since the moist air must rise higher before its temperature cools to that of the surrounding air. The dry adiabatic lapse rate (unsaturated air) is 3°C (5.4°F) per 1,000 feet. The moist adiabatic lapse rate varies from 1.1°C to 2.8°C (2°F to 5°F) per 1,000 feet.

The combination of moisture and temperature determine the stability of the air and the resulting weather. Cool, dry air is very stable and resists vertical movement, which leads to good and generally clear weather. The greatest instability occurs when the air is moist and warm, as it is in the tropical regions in the summer. Typically, thunderstorms appear on a daily basis in these regions due to the instability of the surrounding air.

As air rises and expands in the atmosphere, the temperature decreases. There is an atmospheric anomaly that can occur; however, that changes this typical pattern of atmospheric behavior. When the temperature of the air rises with altitude, a temperature inversion exists. Inversion layers are commonly shallow layers of smooth, stable air close to the ground. The temperature of the air increases with altitude to a certain point, which is the top of the inversion. The air at the top of the layer acts as a lid, keeping weather and pollutants trapped below. If the relative humidity of the air is high, it can contribute to the formation of clouds, fog, haze, or smoke, resulting in diminished visibility in the inversion layer.

Surface based temperature inversions occur on clear, cool nights when the air close to the ground is cooled by the lowering temperature of the ground. The air within a few hundred feet of the surface becomes cooler than the air above it. Frontal inversions occur when warm air spreads over a layer of cooler air, or cooler air is forced under a layer of warmer air.

The atmosphere, by nature, contains moisture in the form of water vapor. The amount of moisture present in the atmosphere is dependent upon the temperature of the air. Every 20°F increase in temperature doubles the amount of moisture the air can hold. Conversely, a decrease of 20°F cuts the capacity in half.

Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor present in the atmosphere at a given time. Relative humidity is the actual amount of moisture in the air compared to the total amount of moisture the air could hold at that temperature. For example, if the current relative humidity is 65 percent, the air is holding 65 percent of the total amount of moisture that it is capable of holding at that temperature and pressure.

The relationship between dew point and temperature defines the concept of relative humidity. The dew point, given in degrees, is the temperature at which the air can hold no more moisture. When the temperature of the air is reduced to the dew point, the air is completely saturated and moisture begins to condense out of the air in the form of fog, dew, frost, clouds, rain, hail, or snow.

Relationship between relative humidity, temperature, and dewpoint.

Relationship between relative humidity, temperature, and dewpoint. (Click to enlarge.)

And, of course, we’ll have more on Thursday from our very own CFI!

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CFI Brief: Update to AC 90-109

Advisory Circular 90-109 has been cancelled and updated to 90-109A effective June 29, 2015. For those of you not familiar with this AC, it deals with transitioning to unfamiliar aircraft. As a pilot or instructor this is an important and resourceful document to become familiar with. Research and available data have found that the majority of general aviation accidents occur due to pilot performance errors associated with transitioning to an unfamiliar airplane. In an effort to minimize risk through risk mitigation and increase overall safety in the general aviation sector the FAA and pertinent organizations have put together this AC to be used at the discretion of flight instructors, pilots, and training organizations.

Click to view AC 90-109A

Click to view AC 90-109A

AC 90-109A PURPOSE. This advisory circular (AC) is intended to help plan the transition to any unfamiliar fixed-wing airplanes, including type-certificated (TC) and/or experimental airplanes. It provides information and guidance to owners and pilots of experimental, simple, complex, high-performance, and/or unfamiliar airplanes. It also provides information to flight instructors who teach in these airplanes. This information and guidance contains recommendations for training experience for pilots of experimental airplanes in a variety of groupings based on performance and handling characteristics. This AC does not address the testing of newly built experimental airplanes. The current edition of AC 90-89, Amateur-Built Aircraft and Ultralight Flight Testing Handbook, provides information on such testing. However, if a pilot is planning to participate in a flight test program in an unfamiliar and/or experimental airplane, this AC should be used to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to safely accomplish the test program utilizing the guidance found in AC 90-89.

I encourage you as a pilot, student pilot, flight instructor, or training organization to make full use of the resources available to you and information contained throughout this AC.

Advisory Circular 90-109A 

The ASA team will be heading to Oshkosh on Friday, July 17th, to begin preparations for the start of EAA AirVenture 2015! Make sure to come by first thing Monday morning (July 20th), we will have a full retail section and product demos on display all week. The ASA booth will be located in Hanger B booths 2075-2079. See you there!2015_booth

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Procedures and Airport Operations: Airport Lighting

The majority of airports have some type of lighting for night operations, and the variety and type of lighting systems depends on the volume and complexity of operations at a given airport. We’re going to be examining these types today with help from the FAA‘s Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. 

Airport beacons help a pilot identify an airport at night. The beacons are operated from dusk till dawn. The beacon has a vertical light distribution to make it most effective from 1–10° above the horizon, although it can be seen well above or below this spread. The combination of light colors from an airport beacon indicates the type of airport. (Figure 1) Some of the most common beacons are:

  • Flashing white and green for civilian land airports;
  • Flashing white and yellow for a water airport;
  • Flashing white, yellow, and green for a heliport; and
  • Two quick white flashes alternating with a green flash identifying a military airport.
Figure 1

Figure 1

Approach light systems are intended to provide a means to transition from instrument flight to visual flight for landing. The system configuration depends on whether the runway is a precision or nonprecision instrument runway. Some systems include sequenced flashing lights, which appear to the pilot as a ball of light traveling toward the runway at high speed. Approach lights can also aid pilots operating under VFR at night.

Visual glidescope indicators provide the pilot with glidepath information that can be used for day or night approaches. By maintaining the proper glidepath as provided by the system, a pilot should have adequate obstacle clearance and should touch down within a specified portion of the runway.

VASI (Visual Approach Slope Indicator) installations are the most common visual glidepath systems in use. The VASI provides obstruction clearance within 10° of the runway extended runway centerline, and to four nautical miles (NM) from the runway threshold.

The VASI consists of light units arranged in bars. There are 2-bar and 3-bar VASIs. The 2-bar VASI has near and far light bars and the 3-bar VASI has near, middle, and far light bars. Two-bar VASI installations provide one visual glidepath which is normally set at 3°. The 3-bar system provides two glidepaths, the lower glidepath normally set at 3° and the upper glidepath 1⁄4 degree above the lower glidepath.

The basic principle of the VASI is that of color differentiation between red and white. Each light unit projects a beam of light, a white segment in the upper part of the beam and a red segment in the lower part of the beam. The lights are arranged so the pilot sees the combination of lights shown in Figure 2 to indicate below, on, or above the glidepath.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Other Glidepath Systems
A precision approach path indicator (PAPI) uses lights similar to the VASI system except they are installed in a single row, normally on the left side of the runway. (Figure 3)


Figure 3

A tri-color system consists of a single light unit projecting a three-color visual approach path. Below the glidepath is indicated by red, on the glidepath is indicated by green, and above the glidepath is indicated by amber. (Figure 4)


Figure 4

Pulsating visual approach slope indicators normally consist of a single light unit projecting a two-color visual approach path into the final approach area of the runway upon which the indicator is installed. The on glidepath indication is a steady white light. The slightly below glidepath indication is a steady red light. If the aircraft descends further below the glidepath, the red light starts to pulsate. The above glidepath indication is a pulsating white light. The pulsating rate increases as the aircraft gets further above or below the desired glideslope.

We’ll see more from our CFI on Thursday!

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CFI Brief: Pilot Certificates, What’s Right For Me?

Everybody starts off as a student pilot but the next step or progression to a higher level can be a bit confusing to some. You essentially have three choices: Private Pilot Certificate, Recreational Certificate, and Sport Pilot Certificate. Let’s break it down.

The student pilot certificate outlined in Part 61 Subpart C is often co-issued by your AME along with your medical and may also be obtained by visiting the local Flight Standards District Office. Eligibility requirements are fairly simple: be at least 16 years of age (14 for glider or balloon operations) and be able to read, speak, write and understand the English language. You may start your training prior to obtaining a student pilot certificate but it will become a required document prior to any solo flight in the aircraft so it’s best to just get it from the start.

The Private Pilot Certificate allows for the most amount of freedom between all three, however it also requires the highest level of training. Eligibility requirements can be found in 14 CFR §61.103. Applicants who often choose to obtain a Private Pilot’s license are on a career path in aviation or wish to fly with fewer limitations placed on them. There are no restrictions to the amount of passengers you can carry and you may fly just about anywhere regulations permit below 18,000 feet day or night.

The Recreational Certificate is best thought of as a step below Private and requires less training hours to earn. Part 61 Subpart D outlines eligibility requirements. This certificate allows for flight only within 50 nautical miles of the primary departure airport and the pilot must remain in either class G or E airspace. You are allowed to carry one passenger, must maintain constant contact with the ground in day VFR conditions, and operate aircraft not greater than 180 horse power. Pilots who earn their recreational certificate often use it as a stepping stone, eventually moving on to obtain a Private Pilot Certificate.

In 2004, the FAA created a new certificate level, the Sport Pilot Certificate, as an easier means to earning your wings. This certificate requires the least amount of training at only 20 hours (minimum), but also places the heaviest restrictions on the pilot. Part 61 Subpart J outlines information relating to Sport Pilots. Limitations and restrictions are similar to that of a recreational pilot, what differs is the type of aircraft a Sport Pilot Certificate holder can operate. The aircraft has to be considered a light sport aircraft (LSA) containing only 1 or 2 seats with a max speed of 120 knots. You are not required to hold a medical certificate to operate as a Sport Pilot which can be a huge draw for pilots who may not meet the requirements to obtain a medical certificate.

The choice is yours and the certificate you decide to earn will be based on your own specific goals and aspirations as a pilot. ASA’s offices will be closed on Friday, July 3rd, but we’ll be back to work on Monday. Have a great Fourth of July weekend!


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Regulations: Medical Certificates

The first step in becoming a pilot is selecting an aircraft (whether it’s airplanes, gyroplanes, weight-shift, helicopters, powered parachutes, gliders, balloons, or even airships). The second step is obtaining a medical certificate and Student Pilot’s Certificate if the choice of aircraft is an airplane, helicopter, gyroplane, or airship. Today, with help from the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, we’ll look closely at obtaining the medical certificate.

A third-class medical certificate/student pilot certificate.

A third-class medical certificate/student pilot certificate.

The FAA suggests new students get their medical certificate before beginning flight training to avoid the expense of flight training that cannot be continued due to a medical condition. Applicants who fail to meet certain requirements or who have physical disabilities which might limit, but not prevent, their acting as pilots, should contact the nearest FAA office.

A medical certificate is obtained by passing a physical examination administered by a doctor who is an FAA authorized Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). There are approximately 6,000 FAA-authorized AMEs across the country. Medical certificates are designated as first class, second class, or third class. Generally, first class is designed for the airline transport pilot, second class for the commercial pilot, and third class for the student, recreational, and private pilot. FAA Knowledge Exam questions relating were addressed in an earlier CFI post.

A third-class medical certificate is valid for three years for those individuals who have not reached the age of 40; otherwise it is valid for two years. A second-class certificate is valid for one year, and a first-class certificate is valid for six months. The standards are more rigorous for the higher classes of certificates. A pilot with a higher class medical certificate has met the requirements for the lower classes as well. The standards for medical certification are contained in 14 CFR part 67 and the requirements for obtaining medical certificates can be found in 14 CFR part 61.

A Student Pilot Certificate is issued by an AME at the time of the student’s first medical examination. This certificate allows a student being trained by flight instructor to fly alone (solo) under limited circumstances and must be carried with the student pilot while exercising solo flight privileges. The student certificate is valid until the last day of the month, 24 months after it was issued.

More from our CFI this Thursday.

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