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Interactive Challenge Results -- And Challenge 5

It looks like you really did your homework on this one. The Interactive Pilot readers who took challenge number 4 were almost unanimously correct.

It looks like you really did your homework on this one. The Interactive Pilot readers who took challenge number 4 were almost unanimously correct.

The airspace in the challenge question (click through and scroll down to the end) is a National Security Area. Pilots are requested to voluntarily avoid flying through the NSA at defined vertical and lateral dimensions.

The particular NSA in question surrounds the Savannah River Weapons Construction site in South Carolina. It is 310 square miles of manufacturing and storage facilities for bombs. The facility built the component parts for the original H-Bomb. Eighteen years ago this area was Prohibited Airspace, but most of the plant is now dormant. The area is currently in the news: As part of a disarmament treaty with the Russians.

This and all NSAs can quickly become prohibited again if the level of security rises. If an NSA changes to a Prohibited Area notification would come first in the form of a NOTAM and then late would manifest as a chart symbol change. This means that checking NOTAMs and flying with current charts is essential. In the meantime it's a really good idea to voluntarily observe the fly-over distances of an NSA -- especially when flying above a place that used to build bombs!

Challenge 5
Take a look at the chart excerpt below. If you look near the center of the chart you will see the small town of North Salem. The chart symbol for North Salem is different than other towns. The name North Salem is written in bold with all capital letters and underlined. The town itself also has a pennant or flag sticking up from it.

Figure 1

The Question: What does the bold, capitalized, and underlined town name together with the pennant indicate and more importantly how should pilots use it? When you look at the Sectional Chart legend you will see that this pennant is called a Visual Check Point. But does this mean that the chart designers are simply suggesting that the town of North Salem would be a good landmark to use for VFR navigation? If that were true, why isn't the town of Jamestown (just north of North Salem) also indicated as a Visual Check Point? The town of Jamestown looks to be the same size as North Salem and therefore just as recognizable -- and you could even argue that Jamestown is a better checkpoint because, in addition to the town, the chart indicates a highway and a railroad running through it. Is a charted Visual Check Point just a recommendation to pilots about easy-to-see landmarks or is there really more to this question?

Hint: Notice that in the lower right corner of the chart excerpt is the outside ring of a Class C airspace.

Become Interactive
Please send me your answers through return email. Most everyone who has responded to the Interactive Challenges this summer has asked for more and report that they learned something whether they got the correct answer or not. So if you haven't taken the challenge before -- come on in!

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About This Author:
Paul A. Craig is a Gold Seal Multiengine and Instrument Flight Instructor. He currently holds a total of 11 Flight Certificates including his ATP. Craig is a previous winner of the North Carolina and Tennessee Flight Instructor of the Year award, the NCVT Outstanding Teacher award and has served as the regional representative of the National Air and Space Museum. Craig is an FAA Aviation Safety Counselor and the author of eight books, including Pilot In Command, The Killing Zone: How and Why Pilots Die, and Controlling Pilot Error: Situational Awareness (all from McGraw Hill).
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