Ground school: Class 5

Tonight we started with a quiz covering all of the material we’ve studied to date. The quiz doesn’t count for anything other than to show us if we’ve been learning the material and to show the instructor if he’s been teaching it well. I knew 90% of the answers without much thinking, but there were two that I wasn’t sure about. One of them I figured out, but the last one threw me. I made a best guess, only to realize later in the evening I should not have missed that one. One of the things he has been saying over and over again in class is that WEIGHT = LIFT = (angle of attack) x (speed). The answer to the question came from that formula, but it was worded in such a way that I had to not be thinking so literally about it. Arg! Oh well. I won’t make that mistake again. We’ll see next week what all the answers are.

After the quiz, we covered airports and runway markings. There are a lot of markings in and around an aiport and on the runways. Most of it is common sense, though. The threshold lights are at the threshold. The center line is down the center of the runway. The hold short line is on a taxiway just short of the runway. There are some markings that may not be entirely intuitive, but once you know what they are, it’s easy to make sense of it.

One helpful navigational aid is the airport beacon. A light that flashes two or more beams of colored light to indicate a type of airport. A civilian land airport is marked by alternating green and white lights, just like the one at Sanford/Lee County. There are different beacons for heliports, water airports, and military airports. You do not want to land at a military airport unless you have an emergency (and that doesn’t mean you have to pee). If you do, expect to be treated as a security threat, complete with weapons, detainment, and questioning.

The last 20 minutes of class was about airspace. Class A, B, C, D, E, and G (there is no F). We covered in that short amount of time the basics, but it did not make enough sense to me. There is a 25-page section in our textbook covering airspace in detail, with 3D diagrams and portions of sectional charts. I spent a few hours reading through that section and looking over the actual Charlotte sectional chart to fully understand what’s going on up there. I (think) I understand it pretty well now, but there are a lot of rules to remember, so I expect to have to refresh my understanding periodically.

When I started training a couple months ago, I started reading through the textbook on my own, so almost all of the material we’ve covered to date in ground school I’d already read. The ground school has been helpful in clarifying a lot, though. As of this class, we’ve covered everything I’ve read on my own, so I expect to have to spend more time reading between classes.