Weather: Temperature Inversions

Today’s post on temperature inversions comes to us from The Pilot’s Manual: Ground School (PM-2C).

Temperature normally decreases with altitude. In the standard atmosphere the temperature is assumed to decrease by approximately 1.98°C for each 1,000 feet climbed in a stationary air mass. In practice, we can assume a decrease, or temperature lapse rate, of 2°C per 1,000 feet. In some layers of air in the actual atmosphere, however, air temperature may increase with altitude (an inverted temperature structure), and a temperature inversion is said to exist. This often happens near ground level on cold, clear nights when the earth’s surface loses heat by terrestrial radiation and cools down. The air near the ground is cooled by conduction, and tends to sink and not mix with air at the higher levels. This leads to the air at ground level being cooler than the air at altitude, and a temperature inversion will exist.

Air that has no tendency to rise is called stable air, as is the case in a temperature inversion, and this generally means smooth flying conditions. Visibility may be a problem, however, because there will be no upward convective currents to carry particles in the air away, so any fog, haze, smoke, smog or low clouds will stay beneath the inversion layer and restrict visibility.

A phenomenon known as windshear (in which the wind strength or direction changes from place-to-place) may exist at the upper boundary of the inversion if there are overlying strong winds. An airplane may experience an airspeed change or some turbulence as it flies through the inversion level from one air mass to another.

Over desert areas, the upper level of an inversion can sometimes be identified by a layer of dust with clear air above it. Inversions also occur at altitude in warm fronts, when a warm current of air overruns a lower colder layer. A danger for pilots in this situation is freezing rain, which is liquid rain falling out of warmer air above into below-freezing air beneath, where it can quickly form a great deal of ice on an airplane’s structure.


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CFI Brief: Unusual Attitude Recoveries

An unusual attitude in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) is a very unwelcome experience. Many years ago on a commercial cross country training flight with my instructor, I came very close to putting myself in an upset condition, or unusual attitude as it’s commonly referred to. The close call occurred on the last leg of our trip while crossing over the San Jacinto Mountains outside of Palm Springs.

It was dark and a bit blustery that evening. While at 9,000 ft MSL and on an IFR flight plan in IMC we began picking up light icing on the wings of our Piper Cherokee. It was my first experience in an icing condition so I looked to my instructor for guidance. He told me to check the left wing with my flashlight every few minutes to note the ice build-up and he would do the same on the right wing. If conditions got worse we would re-evaluate, but for now we both felt comfortable continuing on. About 2 minutes later I grabbed my flashlight and started inspecting the left wing out the pilot’s side window to note any additional ice build-up. After a thorough inspection I turned my head back into the cockpit only to see my attitude indicator showing a 40° bank to the left and my vertical speed indicator showing a 500 ft per minute descent. I was so overly concerned with checking the wing for ice I forgot to fly the airplane, and my instructor didn’t notice because he at this same time was checking the right wing for ice. The first thing that popped into my head was to yell “UNUSUAL ATTITUDE!” at which point I’m sure my instructor’s head swung around rather quickly. I began correcting to put the airplane back in a straight and level flight attitude, reduce power, level the wings, and raise the nose. For the next 10 or so minutes my head was glued to the instrument panel until we finally exited out of the IMC into VMC and landed without incident.

Both my instructor and I took something home of value that day. For me, it was to always remember to first and foremost fly the airplane. For my instructor, it was to never trust your students, or at least that’s what he told me afterwards.

During training for both Private and Instrument Pilot Airplane you will be taught recognition and recovery for both nose-low and nose-high unusual attitudes. Your instrument training however will focus more on recognition and recovery solely by reference to flight instruments or with no outside visual reference cues, like the situation in my story above. Discussed below are recognition and recovery from both types of unusual attitudes as outlined in the Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA-8083-15B), but remember the same principals will apply to a Private Pilot as well, who might find him or herself in inadvertent IMC.

Recognizing Unusual Attitudes
As a general rule, any time an instrument rate of movement or indication other than those associated with the basic instrument flight maneuvers is noted, assume an unusual attitude and increase the speed of cross-check to confirm the attitude, instrument error, or instrument malfunction.

Nose-high attitudes are shown by the rate and direction of movement of the altimeter needle, vertical speed needle, and airspeed needle, as well as the immediately recognizable indication of the attitude indicator (except in extreme attitudes). Nose-low attitudes are shown by the same instruments, but in the opposite direction. These are shown in the figures below.

Nose-High Attitudes
If the airspeed is decreasing, or below the desired airspeed, increase power (as necessary in proportion to the observed deceleration), apply forward elevator pressure to lower the nose and prevent a stall, and correct the bank by applying coordinated aileron and rudder pressure to level the miniature aircraft and center the ball of the turn coordinator. The corrective control applications are made almost simultaneously, but in the sequence given above. A level pitch attitude is indicated by the reversal and stabilization of the ASI and altimeter needles. Straight coordinated flight is indicated by the level miniature aircraft and centered ball of the turn coordinator.


Procedures to recover from a nose-high unusual attitude:

  1. Add Power
  2. Apply Forward Elevator Pressure
  3. Level the Wings

Nose-Low Attitudes
If the airspeed is increasing, or is above the desired airspeed, reduce power to prevent excessive airspeed and loss of altitude. Correct the bank attitude with coordinated aileron and rudder pressure to straight flight by referring to the turn coordinator. Raise the nose to level flight attitude by applying smooth back elevator pressure. All components of control should be changed simultaneously for a smooth, proficient recovery. However, during initial training a positive, confident recovery should be made by the numbers, in the sequence given above. A very important point to remember is that the instinctive reaction to a nose-down attitude is to pull back on the elevator control.

After initial control has been applied, continue with a fast cross-check for possible over controlling, since the necessary initial control pressures may be large. As the rate of movement of altimeter and ASI needles decreases, the attitude is approaching level flight. When the needles stop and reverse direction, the aircraft is passing through level flight. As the indications of the ASI, altimeter, and turn coordinator stabilize, incorporate the attitude indicator into the cross-check.

The attitude indicator and turn coordinator should be checked to determine bank attitude and then corrective aileron and rudder pressures should be applied. The ball should be centered. If it is not, skidding and slipping sensations can easily aggravate disorientation and retard recovery. If entering the unusual attitude from an assigned altitude (either by an instructor or by air traffic control (ATC) if operating under instrument flight rules (IFR)), return to the original altitude after stabilizing in straight-and-level flight.


Procedures to recover from a nose-low unusual attitude:

  1. Reduce Power
  2. Level the Wings
  3. Raise the Nose

For additional training and information on upset prevention and recovery (or unusual flight attitudes), you can refer to either the Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3B) or Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-15B), both great references.

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Aerodynamics: The Spin

Today on LTFB, we’re featuring an excerpt from The Pilot’s Manual: Ground School (PM-2C) on spins.

A spin is a condition of stalled flight in which the airplane follows a spiral descent path. As well as the airplane being in a stalled condition, and yawing, one wing is producing more lift than the other, which results in a roll. The dropping wing is more deeply stalled than the other, and the greater drag from this wing results in further yaw, further roll, and autorotation develops. Upward pitching of the nose will also occur. You can induce a spin on purpose by yawing an airplane that is stalled, or just on the point of stalling.

In a spin, the airplane is in motion about all three axes. In other words, lots of things are happening in a spin! The airplane is:

  • stalled;
  • rolling;
  • yawing;
  • pitching;
  • slipping; and
  • rapidly losing altitude at a low airspeed (close to the stall speed).

In a spin the wings will not produce much lift, since they are stalled. The airplane will accelerate downward until it reaches a vertical rate of descent where the greatly increased drag, now acting upward, counteracts the weight. The altitude loss will be rapid as the airplane spins downward around the vertical spin axis but, because of the high angle of attack and the stalled condition, the airspeed in the spin will be quite low and fluctuating.

Characteristics of a developed spin include a low airspeed (which does not increase until recovery action is initiated), and a high rate of descent.
Spin Recovery
To recover from a spin, you must ensure power is off, oppose the yaw, and unstall the wings. First note yaw direction and apply full opposite rudder, and then move the control column forward to unstall the wings by decreasing the angle of attack. Once the airplane has stopped spinning, ease the airplane out of the dive and resume normal flight.

Misuse of Ailerons
Trying to raise a dropped wing with opposite aileron may have the reverse effect when the airplane is near the stall. If, as the aileron goes down, the stall angle of attack is exceeded, the wing may drop quickly instead of rising, resulting in a spin. The application of aileron after a spin has developed may aggravate the spin. Discuss the spin characteristics of your particular airplane with your flight instructor.

The Spiral Dive
A maneuver that must not be confused with a spin is the spiral dive, which can be thought of as a steep turn that has gone wrong. In a spiral dive the nose attitude is low, and the rate of descent is high, but neither wing is stalled and the airspeed is high and rapidly increasing. A spiral dive is really just a steep descending turn. However, because the pilot may be disoriented it is often mistaken for a spin. The high and increasing airspeed indicates that the airplane is in a spiral dive rather than a spin (when the airspeed would fluctuate at a low value).

Recovery from a spiral dive is simple. Roll wings level and pull gently out of the dive. Beware of overstressing the airplane by pulling too quickly out of the dive—remember the controls will be very effective because of the high airspeed.

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CFI Brief: sUAS Operations and Airspace

Airspace is a significantly important element to sUAS (drone) operations and as the remote pilot-in-command (Remote PIC) it will be your sole responsibility to understand the regulations surrounding airspace operations. In addition to understanding the regulations you will be required to understand the types and classifications of airspace and will need to be able to identify airspace with the use of aeronautical charts. If you have never seen an aeronautical chart like a Sectional or Terminal Area Chart, a great and free online reference is Below is a featured study section and associated questions from the ASA Remote Pilot Test Prep Book.


It is very important that sUAS remote PICs be aware of the type of airspace in which they will be operating their small UA. Referring to the “B4UFly” app, or a current aeronautical chart ( of the intended operating area will aid a remote PIC’s decision-making regarding sUAS operations in the NAS.

Though many sUAS operations will occur in uncontrolled airspace, there are some that may need to operate in controlled airspace. Operations in what is called controlled airspace, i.e. Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace, or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, are not allowed unless that person has prior authorization from ATC.

The sUAS remote PIC must understand airspace classifications and requirements. The authorization process can be found at Although sUAS will not be subject to 14 CFR Part 91, the equipage and communications requirements outlined in Part 91 were designed to provide safety and efficiency in controlled airspace. Accordingly, while sUAS operating under 14 CFR Part 107 are not subject to Part 91, as a practical matter, ATC authorization or clearance may depend on operational parameters similar to those found in Part 91. The FAA has the authority to approve or deny aircraft operations based on traffic density, controller workload, communication issues, or any other type of operations that could potentially impact the safe and expeditious flow of air traffic in that airspace. Those planning sUAS operations in controlled airspace are encouraged to contact the FAA as early as possible.

Many sUAS operations can be conducted in uncontrolled, Class G airspace without further permission or authorization. However, controlled airspace operations require prior authorization from ATC and therefore it is incumbent on the remote PIC to be aware of the type of airspace in which they will be operating their sUAS. As with other flight operations, the remote PIC should refer to current aeronautical charts and other navigation tools to determine position and related airspace.

Controlled airspace, that is, airspace within which some or all aircraft may be subject to air traffic control, consists of those areas designated as Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class E airspace. Much of the controlled airspace begins at either 700 feet or 1,200 feet above the ground. The lateral limits and floors of Class E airspace of 700 feet are defined by a magenta vignette (shading) on the Sectional Chart; while the lateral limits and floors of 1,200 feet are defined by a blue vignette on the Sectional Chart if it abuts uncontrolled airspace. Floors other than 700 feet or 1,200 feet are indicated by a number indicating the floor.

Think you have what it takes to be able to identify airspace on a sectional chart? Between today’s post and Monday’s post let’s see what you got. Click on any of the figures to enlarge.

1. According to 14 CFR Part 107, the remote PIC of a small unmanned aircraft planning to operate within Class C airspace
A—is required to receive ATC authorization.
B—is required to file a flight plan.
C—must use a visual observer.

2. (Refer to Figure 74, area 6.) What airspace is Hayward Executive in?
A—Class B.
B—Class C.
C—Class D.


3. (Refer to Figure 78.) In what airspace is Onawa, IA (K36) located?
A—Class E.
B—Class G.
C—Class D.


4. (Refer to Figure 23, area 3.) What is the floor of the Savannah Class C airspace at the shelf area (outer circle)?
A—1,300 feet AGL.
B—1,300 feet MSL.
C—1,700 feet MSL.

private_23Answers to today’s blog questions.

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sUAS: Operating a Drone in Controlled Airspace

Local news in our area is reporting this morning of increased sightings of drones near SeaTac and PDX approaches. Incidents in the Pacific Northwest include a near-midair collision with a National Guard A-10 fighter based at Boise’s airport and a number of airline pilot reports of drone operations in the vicinity of airport operations including a “saucer-shaped UAS 100 feet below the aircraft’s left wing at 5,100 feet altitude in the Portland vicinity.” The FAA states that they receive more than 100 reports of unsafe drone activity each month nationwide and are suggesting that operators use the B4UFLY app to determine what restrictions or precautions they need to consider during their planned flight.

14 CFR §107.43, “Operation in the vicinity of airports,” is quite clear:

No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft in a manner that interferes with operations and traffic patterns at any airport, heliport, or seaplane base.

This, however, does not make operations near airports completely illegal. At SeaTac, for example, drone operations are prohibited in Class B Airspace unless prior approval is granted by FAA Air Traffic Control. 14 CFR §107.41, “Operation in certain airpsace,” clarifies this:

No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless that person has prior authorization from Air Traffic Control (ATC).


Controlled airspace is a generic term that covers the different classifications of airspace and defined dimensions within which air traffic control (ATC) service is provided in accordance with the airspace classification. Controlled airspace consists of Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class E airspace. Here’s how each is defined in the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (8083-25).

Class A Airspace
Class A airspace is generally the airspace from 18,000 feet mean sea level (MSL) up to and including flight level (FL) 600, including the airspace overlying the waters within 12 nautical miles (NM) of the coast of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska. Unless otherwise authorized, all operation in Class A airspace is conducted under instrument flight rules (IFR).

Class B Airspace
Class B airspace is generally airspace from the surface to 10,000 feet MSL surrounding the nation’s busiest airports in terms of airport operations or passenger enplanements. The configuration of each Class B airspace area is individually tailored, consists of a surface area and two or more layers (some Class B airspace areas resemble upside-down wedding cakes), and is designed to contain all published instrument procedures once an aircraft enters the airspace. ATC clearance is required for all aircraft to operate in the area, and all aircraft that are so cleared receive separation services within the airspace.

Class C Airspace
Class C airspace is generally airspace from the surface to 4,000 feet above the airport elevation (charted in MSL) surrounding those airports that have an operational control tower, are serviced by a radar approach control, and have a certain number of IFR operations or passenger enplanements. Although the configuration of each Class C area is individually tailored, the airspace usually consists of a surface area with a five NM radius, an outer circle with a ten NM radius that extends from 1,200 feet to 4,000 feet above the airport elevation. Each aircraft must establish two-way radio communications with the ATC facility providing air traffic services prior to entering the airspace and thereafter must maintain those communications while within the airspace.

Class D Airspace
Class D airspace is generally airspace from the surface to 2,500 feet above the airport elevation (charted in MSL) surrounding those airports that have an operational control tower. The configuration of each Class D airspace area is individually tailored and, when instrument procedures are published, the airspace is normally designed to contain the procedures. Arrival extensions for instrument approach procedures (IAPs) may be Class D or Class E airspace. Unless otherwise authorized, each aircraft must establish two-way radio communications with the ATC facility providing air traffic services prior to entering the airspace and thereafter maintain those communications while in the airspace.

Class E Airspace
Class E airspace is the controlled airspace not classified as Class A, B, C, or D airspace. A large amount of the airspace over the United States is designated as Class E airspace.

This provides sufficient airspace for the safe control and separation of aircraft during IFR operations. Chapter 3 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) explains the various types of Class E airspace.

Sectional and other charts depict all locations of Class E airspace with bases below 14,500 feet MSL. In areas where charts do not depict a class E base, class E begins at 14,500 feet MSL.

In most areas, the Class E airspace base is 1,200 feet AGL. In many other areas, the Class E airspace base is either the surface or 700 feet AGL. Some Class E airspace begins at an MSL altitude depicted on the charts, instead of an AGL altitude.

Class E airspace typically extends up to, but not including, 18,000 feet MSL (the lower limit of Class A airspace). All airspace above FL 600 is Class E airspace.

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CFI Brief: sUAS (drone) Accident Reporting

Ever wonder what you should do if you crash your small unmanned aircraft (drone)? Well the specifics are outlined for you in 14 CFR §107.9 which we will break down below (no pun intended).

Accident Reporting

The remote PIC must report any sUAS accident to the FAA, within 10 days of the operation, if any of the following thresholds are met:

  • Serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness.
  • Damage to any property, other than the small unmanned aircraft, if the cost is greater than $500 to repair or replace the property (whichever is lower).

For example, a small UA damages property of which the fair market value is $200, and it would cost $600 to repair the damage. Because the fair market value is below $500, this accident is not required to be reported. Similarly, if the aircraft causes $200 worth of damage to property whose fair market value is $600, that accident is also not required to be reported because the repair cost is below $500.

The accident report must be made within 10 calendar-days of the operation that created the injury or damage. The report may be submitted to the appropriate FAA Regional Operations Center (ROC) or FSDO electronically ( or by telephone. The report should include the following information:

  1. sUAS remote PIC’s name and contact information;
  2. sUAS remote PIC’s FAA airman certificate number;
  3. sUAS registration number issued to the aircraft, if required (FAA registration number);
  4. Location of the accident;
  5. Date of the accident;
  6. Time of the accident;
  7. Person(s) injured and extent of injury, if any or known;
  8. Property damaged and extent of damage, if any or known; and
  9. Description of what happened.

A serious injury qualifies as Level 3 or higher on the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. This scale is an anatomical scoring system that is widely used by emergency medical personnel. In the AIS system, injuries are ranked on a scale of 1 to 6; Level 1 is a minor injury, Level 2 is moderate, Level 3 is serious, Level 4 is severe, Level 5 is critical, and Level 6 is a nonsurvivable injury. It would be considered a serious injury if a person requires hospitalization, and the injury is fully reversible including, but not limited to:

  • Head trauma.
  • Broken bone(s).
  • Laceration(s) to the skin that requires suturing.

In addition to this FAA report, and in accordance with the criteria established by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), certain sUAS accidents must also be reported to the NTSB.

§107.9   Accident reporting.

No later than 10 calendar days after an operation that meets the criteria of either paragraph (a) or (b) of this section, a remote pilot in command must report to the FAA, in a manner acceptable to the Administrator, any operation of the small unmanned aircraft involving at least:

(a) Serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness; or

(b) Damage to any property, other than the small unmanned aircraft, unless one of the following conditions is satisfied:

(1) The cost of repair (including materials and labor) does not exceed $500; or

(2) The fair market value of the property does not exceed $500 in the event of total loss.

Want to see a drone crash into the Space Needle in Seattle, WA?

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Notice to Airmen (NOTAM)

Today we are featuring an excerpt from the new edition of Pilot’s Manual: Ground School (Fourth Edition). Also be sure to check out This website provides access to current NOTAM information from the United States NOTAM System.

NOTAMs are an important and time-critical piece of aeronautical information that could affect a pilot’s flight and should be checked as part of the flight planning process. NOTAMs are classified into categories:

  • NOTAM (D) distant—includes information in regards to navigational facilities and public use airports listed within the Chart Supplement U.S. Issued for such things as taxiway or runway closures, airport taxiway lighting that may be out of service, or even construction equipment around the runway environment.
  • FDC NOTAM—contains regulatory information pertaining to flight. Common examples include temporary flight restriction (TFR), an out of service VOR facility, or general changes to airspace and instrument flight procedures.
  • Pointer NOTAM—issued by flight service stations simply to point out another important NOTAM.
  • SAA NOTAM—advises pilots when special activity airspace will be active outside the published and schedule times listed on aeronautical charts or other operational publications.
  • Military NOTAM—pertains to military navigational aids and airports within the national airspace system.

Sample NOTAMS for Boeing Field Airport here in Seattle, WA.

!BFI 02/063 (KBFI A0171/17) BFI NAV ILS RWY 31L LOC/GP OUT OF SERVICE 1702281700-1702282359
!BFI 02/061 (KBFI A0168/17) BFI NAV ILS RWY 13R LOC/GP/DME OUT OF SERVICE 1702281700-1702282359
!BFI 02/051 BFI OBST CRANE (ASN UNKNOWN) 473147N1221760W (.6NM NW APCH END RWY 31L) 238FT(220FT AGL) LGTD AND FLAGGED DLY 1920-2359 1702141922-1703312359
!BFI 01/020 BFI TWY A CL MARKINGS BTN TWY A1 AND TWY A11 FADED 1701152143-1707312359
!BFI 03/016 BFI OBST WATERTOWER (ASN UNKNOWN) 473122N1221813W (0.2NM SSW BFI) 135FT (120FT AGL) NOT LGTD 1503192157-PERM
NOTAM Search
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CFI Brief: Runway Designation


“N123AS cleared to land runway one zero right”. Have you ever wondered how a runway gets its number and letter designation, like 10R (One Zero Right)? The answer is actually simple and serves as a safety feature for departing and landing traffic. The runway number is the whole number nearest one-tenth the magnetic azimuth of the centerline of the runway, measured clockwise from magnetic north (AIM 2-3-3).

That statement can be a bit confusing so let’s break it down into simpler terms. If you were to stand at the beginning of the runway and point a compass directly down the runway centerline you’re going to come up with a magnetic direction, for example 242°.This magnetic direction is rounded to the nearest one-tenth (240°) and the zero omitted (24). So in this particular example, a runway with a magnetic direction of 242° would be assigned the runway numbers 24. The same is done if standing on the opposite end of the runway, facing the other direction. Or you could simply find the reciprocal, since most runways are straight: just subtract or add 180.

240° – 180° = 60° (24 – 18 = 6)

Two runways will often share the same pavement so in the case of our example we would have Runway 6 in one direction and Runway 24 in the other direction (6 – 24). Looking at the figure below you can see Runway 18 aligned north to south and at the other end Runway 36 aligned south to north. If you were to make a straight out departure from runway 36 you would maintain a magnetic heading of 360° or due north.


Larger airports will often have parallel runways, sometimes up to three runways, all aligned with the same magnetic azimuth resulting in the same runway number (i.e. 35). For situations like this we use Left (L), Right (R), and Center (C) to differentiate between each runway. In the case of two parallel runways you would have 35L and 35R. For three parallel runways you would have runways 35L, 35C, and 35R. This is shown in the figure below depicting two of three parallel runways; note that the actual letter will always be painted beneath the runway number.
Parellel Runways

From the figure below what would be your best guess as to the runway designation painted on the opposite end of the runway? Think about it for a minute and don’t answer to quick! Answer posted in the comments section.


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Procedures and Airport Operations: Taxiway and Runway Markings

Airports come in all shapes and sizes. Some have long, hard-surfaced runways while others have short, grass runways. Some have operating control towers to regulate the flow of traffic in airspace around the airport as well as on the ground, and others do not. Airport pavement markings and signs provide information that is useful to a pilot during takeoff, landing, and taxiing. Uniformity in airport markings and signs from one airport to another enhances safety and improves efficiency. All markings and signs can be found in Chapter 2, Section 3 of the Aeronautical Information Manual. Today, we’ll look at taxiway and runway markings with an excerpt from The Pilot’s Manual: Ground School (PM-2C).

Taxiway Markings
Taxiway markings are yellow. The taxiway centerline may be marked with a continuous yellow line, and the edges of the taxiway may be marked by two continuous yellow lines 6 inches apart. Airplanes should taxi with their nosewheel on the yellow centerline.
Figure 1. Taxiway markings are in yellow. (Click to expand.)

Taxiway holding lines, across the width of the taxiway, consist of two continuous and two dashed yellow lines, spaced 6 inches between dashes. The two continuous lines are on the side from which an aircraft will approach a runway when taxiing, and if you are instructed to hold short of the runway or if you are not cleared onto the runway, you should stop with no part of the aircraft extending beyond the holding line.

Taxiway and Runway Signs
Next to the holding line at the edge of the taxiway there may be runway holding position signs with white characters on a red background. There may also be a runway boundary sign that faces the runway and is visible to pilots exiting the runway. It will also be adjacent to the holding position marked on the pavement and may even be painted on the rear face of the holding sign. The sign has black markings on a yellow background. After landing, you will be clear of the runway when your aircraft is completely past this sign and the holding lines on the pavement. A no-entry sign (red and white) prohibits the entry of an aircraft.
Figure 2. Runway holding position sign.
Figure 3. Runway boundary sign.
Figure 4. No-entry sign.

Runway Markings
Runway markings vary in complexity according to the operations likely to occur on that particular runway. To assist pilots landing and stopping at the conclusion of a successful precision instrument approach, some precision instrument runways have very specific markings, as shown in figure 7.

Ensure that you know whether the full length of the runway is available for landing or not. A displaced threshold showing the start of the landing portion of the runway will be indicated by white arrows pointing to a thick white solid line across the runway, or by yellow chevrons. If arrows are used, that part of the runway may be available for takeoff, but not for landing. If chevrons, rather than arrows are used, then that part of the runway is only suitable for use during an aborted takeoff (as a stopway). If the whole runway is totally unusable, it will have a large cross (×) at each end.
Figure 5. Displaced threshold markings. (Click to expand.)
Figure 6. Closed runway (or taxiway).
Figure 7. Markings on a precision instrument runway. (Click to expand.)

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CFI Brief: Attitude Instrument Flying

The attitude of an aircraft is controlled by movement around its lateral (pitch), longitudinal (roll), and vertical (yaw) axes. In instrument flying, attitude requirements are determined by correctly interpreting the flight instruments. Instruments are grouped as to how they relate to control, function and aircraft performance. Attitude control is discussed in terms of pitch, bank, and power control. The three pitot-static instruments, the three gyroscopic instruments, and the tachometer or manifold pressure gauge are grouped into the following categories:

Pitch Instruments:
• Attitude Indicator
• Altimeter
• Airspeed Indicator
• Vertical Speed Indicator

Bank Instruments:
• Attitude Indicator
• Heading Indicator
• Turn Coordinator

Power Instruments:
• Manifold Pressure Gauge
• Tachometer
• Airspeed Indicator


When climbing and descending, it is necessary to begin level-off in enough time to avoid overshooting the desired altitude. The amount of lead to level-off from a climb varies with the rate of climb and pilot technique. If the aircraft is climbing at 1,000 feet per minute, it will continue to climb at a descending rate throughout the transition to level flight. An effective practice is to lead the altitude by 10% of the vertical speed (500 fpm would have a 50 foot lead; 1,000 fpm would have a 100 foot lead).

The amount of lead to level-off from a descent also depends upon the rate of descent and control technique. To level-off from a descent at descent airspeed, lead the desired altitude by approximately 10%. For level-off at an airspeed higher than descending airspeed, lead the level-off by approximately 25%.

When making initial pitch attitude corrections to maintain altitude during straight-and-level flight, the changes of attitude should be small and smoothly applied. As a rule-of-thumb for airplanes, use a half-bar-width correction for errors of less than 100 feet and a full-bar-width correction for errors in excess of 100 feet.

These are the types of attitude instrument flying questions you can expect to see on an instrument knowledge test. Using the information above you should be able to easily answer each of the three questions.

1. Which instruments, in addition to the attitude indicator, are pitch instruments?
A—Altimeter and airspeed only.
B—Altimeter and VSI only.
C—Altimeter, airspeed indicator, and vertical speed indicator.

2. Which instruments should be used to make a pitch correction when you have deviated from your assigned altitude?
A—Altimeter and VSI.
B—Manifold pressure gauge and VSI.
C—Attitude indicator, altimeter, and VSI.

3. For maintaining level flight at constant thrust, which instrument would be the least appropriate for determining the need for a pitch change?
C—Attitude indicator.


The answer to all three questions is C.

For additional sample FAA Knowledge Test questions pick up a copy of the ASA Test Prep or Prepware Software for Instrument Rating.

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