Saturday, June 20, 2015

N162HG 1.7 Sightseeing to KLVK with Aden

This was my first-ever "real" flight with a passenger. Fittingly, that passenger was my son Aden.

We went to the airport early in the afternoon. There were some hiccups. For example, the LOW VOLTS annunciator would not show up during preflight on the G300. I flipped through the manual and checklists -- does it mean some important component which should be pulling down the voltage is not connected? No -- according to the checklist, that's normal. I asked for 3/4 tanks, and the fuel truck dude overfilled a little, which was fine -- we had weight margin to spare. (The convenient thing about the Flycatcher is that fuel and pax weight does not affect the CG. If it's fuel or pax, you can do the "W" part of your W&B and pretty much skip the "B" part.)

But the wind was getting up beyond 15 knots with a strong crosswind, exceeding my 7 knot xwind / 15 knot total solo limitations. I decided to scrub for the moment. Aden was a good sport about it.

After a family feast of Mexican food (#protip: all y'all stop reading this and have some birria de chivo right away, preferably at Taqueria Gonzalez in Redwood City), we went home and chillaxed. I noticed that the winds were starting to die down. I asked Aden if he was up for another try, and he was!

We drove to the airport, where I preflighted without event.

We took off with a right Dumbarton departure, went to the Sunol golf course (VPSUN) point, then basically flew around at 3500' sightseeing wherever Aden was curious. We went most of the way across the Altamont pass and back, went over the Del Valle reservoir and circled looking at the little recreational areas, and overall just checked things out.

I then needed to take a leak ;) so I called into Livermore for a landing. Tower said, "Say parking." I was like, um um. The FBO? The controller sent me to 25R. When we landed, it was clear the Ground folks knew that we had no idea where to go, and very nicely directed us towards the guest parking area.

We tried to push the airplane into the parking but it was difficult since we had not brought our towbar with us. We ended up sort of managing, but next time I'll just taxi in or bring the damned thing. We used the bathroom, ate some energy bars, then buttoned in and started up again.

While in the runup, KLVK winds were like 30015KT -- the crosswind was above my solo limits! Gefplatz! I could easily fly if I was desperate, but why risk it, and anyway, I have to have some limits. We sat in the runup for 5 minutes or so, and the wind became more gentle and more aligned with the runway, so we departed 25L with a left crosswind departure.

Our arrival at KPAO was uneventful. We were invited to make a right base for Rwy 31, and I was happy to see the red and white PAPI lights just so as I turned final.

Aden helped me push the plane back into parking, and we packed up and were off.

After so much training, the fact of flying with some person in the right seat -- even my son -- seems pretty routine. I guess the way the system works, we are not allowed to cart members of the general public around till we get to this point. So in some sense, this was pretty momentous in being a confirmation of a process I went through, but it did not feel momentous because -- well, I mean, it was a routine and relaxing flight. What of it?

I'm still very, very happy though!


  1. I think the 15kt wind restriction is only for student pilots, btw.

    1. Well -- until I figure out what my personal limits are, I am using my solo limits as the first approximation. The good thing is that they are not "legal" so I don't have to stress out too much if the wind is 16kt rather than 15kt. But I do try to stay within my solo-limits crosswind for the time being.

  2. "left Dumbarton departure, went to the Sunol golf course" - did you mean a *right* dumbarton?

  3. About parking - ask for transient :) in LVK that's near the tower, or if you ask for it, they'll let you park near the restaurant (convenient if you're going there to eat)

  4. Besides the above comments, awesome to see you take your first freedom flight :) (freedom as in no obligation to do anything in it, just having fun) I hope there'll be many more ahead!

    1. Thank you -- yes, freedom for me is not so much about obligation to do stuff (I could have as many as these as I wanted when solo) but about not having to check in with a CFI, get "permission", look for someone to check off my paperwork, etc.

  5. "Say parking"
    Mmmh, "parking"
    I've been so tempted to do this one day :)