All posts tagged 'flywithaopa'

Do You Know Your Runway Markings?

Runway Markings

Flight training magazine and AOPA discussed runway markings recently because after your private, and maybe a few times in instrument training, it's not really discussed in depth again. Sometimes if you didn't get the best luck of the draw with your instructor it may not be discussed well at all.

Whatever the case is, let's talk about runway markings!

Displaced Threshold

I think this one is most often missed in training. The basic information taught about a displaced is "you can taxi and takeoff there but don't land." BUT WHY?!?! 

The short unprofessional answer for this is because you'll hit something. The better answer is it's there to protect you. If you aim for it as a landing spot, your glide path will become too low and again...you'll hit something. This could be power lines, trees, hills, etc. depending on the airport environment so it is designed specifically to avoid the dangers. Don't aim to touchdown until the threshold to be safe.

Threshold

As previously mentioned, the threshold now marks the beginning of available landing distance on the runway. Thresholds also have a coding system to tell you how wide the runway is. I think the coding system for the threshold is pretty neat. Here's a picture as it's described in the AIM of how the width is depicted:

Threshold Stripes

When it comes to instrument flying, the threshold can also tell you what type of approach the runway has: visual, precision, or nonprecision. On a visual runway with no approaches, it will just start at the beginning of the paved area, but for approaches, you'll see long, bold white stripes between the start of the runway and the edge of the numbers called your threshold markings. 

Designation Markings

Believe it or not, this is the official term used for runway numbers. They indicate the approximate magnetic orientation of that runway. Over time as the earth's magnetic fields change, however, the number has to be changed. A runway might be 17 for 10 years and then have to be changed to say 18 (this blew my mind as a private student!).

Side note: make a good habit as early as you can of saying "runway verified" or "I see 17 (insert correct runway number)" whenever you enter a runway and see the designation markings. It'll save you on that one leg in the middle of the night where you're exhausted and accidentally enter the wrong runway. You never know!

Touchdown Zone 

500 feet down the first stripe of runways with a precision approach is what is known as the touchdown zone. This is the line where football players must reach to score a goal against their opponent.

Just checking to see if you're still reading! These stripes are most useful in helping you know how much runway you've already eaten up in case you're pushing landing distance factors. 

Aiming Point

You might recognize these as they're most commonly called: the 1000 foot markers or captains bars! Similar to the purpose of the touchdown zone, these also help to show how much runway you've used. And if you're a commercial student, these are much better to use to aim for on power off 180's than the numbers!

Side-stripe Markings

These are the solid continuous white stripes that signify the edge of the runway to help provide a visual contrast from the terrain off the side of the pavement. Something similar to this is the yellow runway shoulder marking, cueing a non-taxi area. 

Centerline

Lastly demonstrated on the picture is centerline, perhaps one of the most important! One of its functions is keeping you on the center of the runway, protecting the wings from hazards off the side of the runway like windsocks, terrain, and worst of all aviation YouTubers.

The stripes also help mark the distance you've used. According to the AIM, each stripe is 120 feet long with 80 feet in between each of them. The stripes can be between one and three feet wide depending on the size of the runway. 

Hopefully this was a good refresher for runway markings for you! Remember to work for centerline and don't forget to flare!

Questions or comments? Let us know below!

What To Do If You Have a Bird Strike

Last month I gave some tips on how to conquer summertime flying. It's hot outside, performance is decreased, the weather isn't always the best, etc. 

Well, there's one topic we didn't really discuss, and that's...

BIRDS.

Cue the dramatic music. Because they're EVERYWHERE.

Since the last post, within the past two weeks, I've had two bird strikes while instructing. Neither were catastrophic, but each one cut our flight short (so more just inconvenient).

Here's what happened each time:

Pictured above is from the first bird strike incident. A student and I were doing some laps in the pattern and were all too familiar with dodging birds from earlier lessons. So when we saw a small bird coming at us we didn't panic, just tried to curve to the side and avoid it. 

At first, it seemed we were in the clear until we heard a "ding" sound from the left side. We looked at each other then looked back at the strut and gear to see where it hit but couldn't see anything. BUT, we heard it, and even though we weren't 100% sure where it hit we decided to just make a full stop. 

After shutting down on the ramp we saw where it hit the strut. Mechanics verified our inspection and no damage was done!

Now bird strike number 2: this one was a little more dramatic (and kind of funny if you have terrible humor like me). 

Instead of a Cessna, a different student and I were in our SR20 who we named "Sherman." Don't judge, it's a great plane and therefore needed a great name! Anywho, Sherman, myself, and the student were just cleared for takeoff and started bringing the power in. As the engine instruments and airspeed were being checked we saw a black shadow hit our windshield and roll off. So, power was brought back and as we kept positive control of the plane we notified tower we had a possible bird strike and needed to taxi off to shutdown. Once approved we taxied off and shutdown as soon as possible. That's where we found some blood on the cowling...it didn't just hit the windshield.

So, I called tower back and said we'd need a tow back to the hangars. While we waited we obviously had to document the incident with a selfie! I knew this would be going on the blog too after the second time, so I wanted to capture the proof. After we got our tow back mechanics checked the engine and verified yet again no structural damage, and Sherman was back on the flight line. 

So, I know one thing you might be thinking: why did they shutdown for a bird strike? 

In both incidents, I wasn't 100% sure where the bird hit. And even then, I can't see just from the cockpit what possible damage the hit caused. Bird strikes can be kind of funny like in our selfie moment, but they can also be as serious as the famous Sully on the Hudson River case. I know another instructor who had a bird strike and kept flying because "it was fine" and later landed to find a huge dent in the flap. Even in terms of structural damage, what if it strikes the wing and ruptures a fuel tank? It's okay to be too safe and cautious in these cases. 

In the case of a bird strike, here's what to do:

  • - Try to pinpoint where the bird hit so you can estimate what kind of structural damage may have been caused, and have a game plan set to counteract any problems that could have come from it.
  • - Land as soon as possible. You can't see everything from the cockpit and there may be damage unseen to you. 
  • - Be cautious, but never panic. I can't stress this enough, don't stress!! This is when your flying will be negatively affected. 
  • - Report the bird strike. You won't get in trouble, birds can be impossible to avoid in many cases so it's likely not your fault. Report it to a controller if you're in controlled airspace or other pilots if you're at an uncontrolled field. 
  • - Do a thorough inspection after landing and shutdown, but also have a mechanic verify it before releasing it back to fly. 
  • - After landing, report it to the FAA on the FAA Wildlife Strike Database. This is used for collecting statistics and understanding how we can mitigate further incidents. 

Bird strikes usually have a minuscule impact on the flight, but imagine other cases where they come through the windshield and have even hit the pilot(s). That's a scary thought, but at the end of the day, you just have to FLY THE PLANE. Never panic, maintain control, and fly like you were taught too.

In other news, don't forget about the annual Globalair.com Scholarship! Applications close this month on August 15th. We'll be picking two recipients to help further their flight training towards a professional pilot career. 

Questions or comments to add to this article? Post below!

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