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Learn to Fly 5: The Four Forces Part 1

The four forces of flight make up the fundamental concept of flight. Lift, weight, thrust, and drag are the very first concepts students learn in ground school. In this post, we’ll give you an introduction to the first two: Lift and Weight. The Student Pilot’s Flight Manual by William Kershner explains this well:

These are the four force vectors that are applied to any aircraft inflight.

These are the four force vectors that are applied to any aircraft inflight.


Lift
Lift is a force exerted by the wings. (Lift may also be exerted by the fuselage or other component, but at this point, it would be best just to discuss the major source of the airplane’s lift, the wings.) It is a force created by the “airfoil,” the cross-sectional shape of the wing being moved through the air or, as in a wind tunnel, the air being moved past the wing. The result is the same in both cases. The “relative wind” (wind moving in relation to the wing and airplane) is a big factor in producing lift, although not the only one.

Lift is always considered to be acting perpendicularly both to the wingspan and to the relative wind. The reason for this consideration will be shown later as you are introduced to various maneuvers. As the wing moves through the air, either in gliding or powered flight, lift is produced. How lift is produced can probably be explained most simply by Bernoulli’s theorem, which briefly puts it this way: “The faster a fluid moves past an object, the less sidewise pressure is exerted on the body by the fluid.” The fluid in this case is air; the body is an airfoil.

The distance that the air must travel over the top is greater than that of the bottom. As the air moves over this greater distance, it speeds up in an apparent attempt to reestablish equilibrium at the rear (trailing edge) of the airfoil. (Don’t worry, equilibrium won’t be reestablished. ) Because of this extra speed, the air exerts less sidewise pressure on the top surface of the airfoil than on the bottom, and lift is produced. The pressure on the bottom is normally increased also and you can think that, as an average, this contributes about 25 percent of the lift; this percentage varies with “angle of attack.”

Weight
Gravity is like the common cold, always around and not much that can be done about it. This can be said, however: Gravity always acts “downward” (toward the center of the earth). Lift does not always act opposite to weight.

Stay tuned for introductions to the other two forces, thrust and drag, in the next post. You can purchase The Student Pilot’s Flight Manual on our website at ASA2Fly.com, which also contains even more resources for student pilots.

Have a safe journey!

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Ground School: Medical Certificates – Answers and Explanations

On Monday I posted two questions about medical certificates. Let’s see how you did.

1. A Third-Class Medical Certificate was issued to a 19-year-old pilot on August 10, this year. To exercise the privileges of a Recreational or Private Pilot Certificate, the medical certificate will expire at midnight on
A—August 10, 2 years later.
B—August 31, 5 years later.
C—August 31, 2 years later.

The correct answer is B, August 31st, 5 years later. A Third-Class Medical Certificate expires at the end of the last day of the 60th month after the month of the date of the examination shown on the certificate if the person has not reached his or her 40th birthday on or before the date of examination, for operations requiring a Recreational or Private Pilot Certificate.

2. For private pilot operations, a Second-Class Medical Certificate issued to a 42-year-old pilot on July 15, this year, will expire at midnight on
A—July 15, 2 years later.
B—July 31, 1 year later.
C—July 31, 2 years later.

The correct answer is C, July 31st, 2 years later. A Second-Class Medical Certificate expires at the end of the last day of the 24th month after the month of the date of the examination shown on the certificate if the person has reached his or her 40th birthday on or before the date of examination, for operations requiring a Private Pilot Certificate.

Good job! These were some tough questions so don’t feel too bad if you didn’t get them both right you may just need some more practice. You can find additional questions like those above in ASA’s Test Prep Books and Prepware Software designed to get you ready for your FAA Knowledge Test. For more information on medical certificates refer to 14 CFR 61.23 in the FAR/AIM book.

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Ground School: Medical Certificates

Prior to starting your flight training it is important to first determine if you meet the guidelines for issuance of an FAA Medical Certificate. Don’t let this process deter you, obtaining your FAA Medical is a fairly simple process and is much like going to your doctor for a physical. The main difference is that you must visit what is known as an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME), a doctor who is certified by the FAA to conduct and issue medical certificates. A list of AME’s can be found here: http://www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator/

The following is an excerpt from the ASA 2015 Private Pilot Test Prep Book:

“Student pilot, recreational pilot, and private pilot operations, other than glider and balloon pilots, require a Third-Class Medical Certificate. A Third-Class Medical Certificate expires at the end of:

1. The 60th month after the month of the date of the examination shown on the certificate if the person has not reached his or her 40th birthday on or before the date of examination; or

2. The 24th month after the month of the date of examination shown on the certificate if the person has reached his or her 40th birthday on or before the date of the examination.

The holder of a Second-Class Medical Certificate may exercise commercial privileges during the first 12 calendar months, but the certificate is valid only for private pilot privileges during the following (12 or 48) calendar months, depending on the applicant’s age.

The holder of a First-Class Medical Certificate may exercise Airline Transport Pilot privileges during the first (6 or 12) calendar months, commercial privileges during the following (6 or 0) calendar months, and private pilot privileges during the following (12 or 48) calendar months, depending on the applicant’s age. To state another way, a medical certificate may last 6 months to a year with first-class privileges, 12 months (from the date of the examination) with second-class privileges, and 2 or 5 years with thirdclass privileges—depending on whether the applicant is above or below 40 years of age.

Each type of medical certificate is valid through the last day of the month (of the month it expires), regardless of the day the physical examination was given.”

Here are two questions about medical certificates you are likely to see on your FAA Knowledge Exam. Use the information above to see if you can correctly answer each one. Answers and explanations will be posted on Thursday.

1. A Third-Class Medical Certificate was issued to a 19-year-old pilot on August 10, this year. To exercise the privileges of a Recreational or Private Pilot Certificate, the medical certificate will expire at midnight on
A—August 10, 2 years later.
B—August 31, 5 years later.
C—August 31, 2 years later.

2. For private pilot operations, a Second-Class Medical Certificate issued to a 42-year-old pilot on July 15, this year, will expire at midnight on
A—July 15, 2 years later.
B—July 31, 1 year later.
C—July 31, 2 years later.

Check back on Thursday for a discussion on the answers!

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Learn to Fly 4: Getting Started

If these last posts have convinced you that you would like to be a pilot, that’s great! Bob Gardner’s book, The Complete Private Pilot is a great place to start! Here is an excerpt from his book:

So you want to be a pilot! You’ve come to the right place. If you haven’t already done so, go to www.beapilot.com or www.learntofly.com for a background and then visit your local airport for an introductory ride. Since the first edition of this book was published in 1985, computer use is widespread. Students and certificated pilots who do not own computers have access through schools, libraries, and community centers. You will want to get an up-to-date copy of Part 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), which fully details the regulatory requirements for obtaining a pilot certificate. Or go to www.faa.gov and click on “Regulations and Procedures.” This website will save you a lot of money. The following is a summary of the adventure on which you are embarking:

First, there is the Part 61/Part 141 quandary. Are there flight schools of which the FAA does not approve? Are they safe? Understandable confusion. Flight schools that operate under Part 141 of the FARs are strictly regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA or Feds), their flight and ground school courses must be FAA-approved, among many, many other requirements. Students who learn better in a structured climate will choose a Part 141 school. Instructors at a Part 61 school should operate from a syllabus, just as in a Part 141 school, but they are not required to do so. Ground school is not required at a Part 61 school. If your life and work schedule do not fit into a relatively strict training regime, Part 61 is for you. Safety? The airplanes and instructors at both types of school must meet the same standards.

Then there is the sport pilot/recreational pilot/private pilot question. If you just want to experience the joy of flight, boring holes in the sky and going to pancake breakfasts at small airpots, working toward the recreational pilot certificate will require less flight time (and money) but your privileges will be somewhat restricted. Some of the restrictions can be removed by an instructor’s endorsement in your logbook, others cannot. Still, getting a sport or recreational pilot certificate is a good first step toward the unrestricted private pilot certificate. Rest assured, your flight instructor wants you to know as much as possible, and if your ultimate goal is the private pilot certificate, will strongly urge you to start working on it right away.

You can purchase The Complete Private Pilot on our website at ASA2Fly.com, which also contains even more resources for student pilots.

Have a safe journey!

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Learn to Fly 3: How much will it cost?

One of the most common worries among prospective pilots is whether it is affordable to learn to fly. Greg Brown and Laurel Lippert’s book You Can Fly! does a great job at explaining this:

A range of factors will determine your total investment in flight training. First of all, flight school costs vary based on location, overhead costs, and the capital invested in aircraft and facilities. An outfit flying new airplanes, working out of a beautiful building in an urban area, must charge more than one that is operating older airplanes out of a rural airport.

Next, there’s the issue of government minimums required to earn a pilot certificate, versus the practical realities of learning all you should know to operate proficiently as a pilot. Technically, one can earn a Private Pilot certificate in as little as 40 flight hours, but as mentioned earlier, it will likely take a bit longer than that.

When you visit flight schools and ask them to detail costs, most show costs based on the minimums, because that is what their competitors do. So, ask each flight school or instructor you interview to be totally honest about what it’s realistically going to cost.

“I see from your Private Pilot information sheet that it’s possible to earn a pilot certificate in 40 hours, but I understand that’s not realistic for most people. Based on your experience here at the flight school, how much should I budget to earn my Private Pilot certificate?” At that, the instructor will breathe a sigh of relief and give you a more accurate target. (We recommend that you budget for 50 to 60 hours, then work diligently to come in close to that.)

By now you should be realizing that you can personally impact the size of your training investment. A great deal of the cost boils down to the motivation and availability of each individual student. Of course, there can be factors outside of your control, like weather, but if you prepare well for each lesson and fly regularly, you are much more likely to achieve the lower end of that range.

You can purchase You Can Fly! on our website at ASA2Fly.com, which also contains even more resources for student pilots.

Have a safe journey!

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