Cross-Country Quiz: ASI & Humble Pie

By Scott Spangler on March 11th, 2012

aopa-1It’s been too many years since I was last pilot in command of an airplane, and even longer since I’ve made a cross-country flight. The AOPA Air Safety Institute must have known that flying may well be part of my life in the near future because in an email it asked, “How sharp is your VFR cross-country knowledge?” and a link to its safety quiz.

It asks 10 questions about a 350 mile VFR trip from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to Festus, Missouri. As necessary, it provides blow-up sectional chart images on which to search for the correct multiple-guess response. Like most pilots I was pretty confident of my knowledge, even though I haven’t put it into practice for a few years. The result was humbling. If you want to know how badly I blew it, you’ll have to keep reading.  Needless to say, there’s a ground school refresher in my future.

Knowing the good and thorough folks at ASI, they based the quiz questions on subjects from their research that shows which ones pilots (like me) screw up the most. They caught me on the first question, which asked whether I had to ATC before entering the TRSA anchored to Rockford. When you get the answer wrong, the quiz patiently explains why, and the differences between the requirements for a TRSA and Class C airspace.

aopa-2Other questions dealt with the hemispheric altitude rule, VFR weather minimums inside Class B airspace, reading chart symbols for such things as services and lighting and frequencies for AWOS and in-flight weather briefings. There’s little solace in getting the answer part right. When you don’t include the standard Flight Watch freqs that are not printed on the sectional, the question is still wrong. And that is (mostly) what earned me a dismal 30 points.

I do take issue with one question, which asked for the best way to stay clear of the Peoria Class C when the handheld GPS died. Given the topography, the easiest and surest solution was to stay east of the river and at the given cruising altitude, which would keep you clear of the Class C core and under its outer ring.

ASI didn’t like that answer. They wanted me to tune in the 170-From radial on the Bradford VOR and keep the needle off to the indicator’s right side. Yeah, that’ll work, I guess. But on this hypothetical flight I’m at 1,500 feet msl, 1,700 agl, flying under an overcast. As they pointed out in the explanation of why a previous answer was wrong, when flying below 3,000 feet, you still have to keep your eyes out for traffic…so why would I be futzing with a VOR when a river suits my needs perfectly?

Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to take a few more ASI quizzes. I need to redeem myself…or identify some other areas in need of remedial—ah, refresher—training. –Scott Spangler

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6 Responses to “Cross-Country Quiz: ASI & Humble Pie”

  1. Sig F. Says:

    I have been flying for many years and have put in the log book around 60 hours this year. I have a hell of a time getting a minimum passing grade on these tests. I think I am OK in the air but the safety group testing results suggests otherwise.

  2. Paul Tinniello Says:

    This is a reminder that we must read a book every month at least…to stay solid.

  3. @williamAirways Says:

    The problem with the ASI “quizzes” is that sometimes there are more than one correct answer, often times not listed as an option. And sometimes, the questions are just poorly constructed.

  4. Paul Tinniello Says:

    I beleive that the ASI Quizzes are just to touch base with us to see if we are on top of our game or not.

  5. Jan Miller Says:

    If you were at 1500’MSL and 1700’AGL, were you flying over the part of Death Valley that is below sea level? I believe it is called Badwater at the lowest point.

  6. Paul Tinniello Says:

    I believe Badwater is 282′ below MSL…So if you were to fly at 1500′ MSL it would put you somewhere around 1782′ AGL.

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