Saturday, July 11, 2015

N162HG 1.3 Sightseeing to KVLK with Aden

Today, KHAF was reporting clear (when does that happen, ever?) so we had the usual conversation in our family as to whether my wife or my son was going to go with me. My son won the argument, I guess, so we were off.

Winds were a bit on the high side (18kt if I recall correctly) but aligned with the runway enough to be below 7kt crosswind component. That sounded pretty achievable.

We did a left Dumbarton departure but, as we approached OSI and climbed, it became clear that the coast was covered in a layer of clouds with bottoms around 3000-3500'. I didn't really care if they were technically over KHAF or not --- the problem is that I didn't like the idea of sneaking under them and, possibly, having them move closer to the mountains and making it hard to get back home.

Aden and I had a quick confab and decided we'd go to Livermore instead. So, I turned back and asked KPAO to transition their airspace to VPSUN.

KPAO asked me to cross at or above 1500'; I crossed at 2000' and they told me to remain there. Of course, given that I was further South than I usually am, I entered ... can you guess? ... correct! the edge of San Jose's Class C! The tower controller was really nice and asked me if I was maintaining my current course, then recommended descending. I of course descended like crazy and turned clear. He then said, "Observe you are clear of the San Jose Class C, frequency change approved, have a nice flight!" Lesson learned, I guess. Watch for the magenta as well as the blue!

It was a bumpy ride to KLVK, but fun.

In the KLVK pattern, it became clear that they thought I was "Cessna 1 6 2 Echo Golf" ... which caused some confusion when they asked me to change from 25L to 25R in the middle of my approach. I have said my callsign so many times now that I tend to slur/hurry it, but as my friend says, it's the one thing that a controller cannot on some level predict. So, second lesson learned.

It was windy but not with a huge crosswind at KLVK, and my landing was okay -- I still had my early flare disease (am I ever going to get rid of this?) but it was safe. I think I really need to do more landing practice, on my own so I can concentrate, and try and refine my landing technique.

At KLVK, Aden and I went for a walk and then hopped back in and took off.

When inbound KPAO, our controller asked me if I wanted to do a direct right base, and I said yes. He mentioned specifically "at or below 1500'" -- maybe he was the same controller as before and wanted to remind me to stay below the San Jose C again! :)

A fellow aviator was flying a Yak in from the East, like me, and the tower sent him all over tarnation to get him behind me, including sending him on a left pattern, putting him on a long downwind, etc. Poor dude still had to do S-turns. The Flycatcher is slow. :)

For my KPAO landing, it was bumpy with a bunch of wind but not too much crosswind. I decided to try adding 5 kt to my approach speed, to 60 kt, to see if that would make the landing more gentle. It worked -- up to a point. I touched down gently, but then bounced up a little bit again. I guess the POH advice to use partial flaps for this sort of approach is worth heeding. Next time.

In summary: This was my first PIC flight in wind conditions a little beyond my solo limits (higher winds but not more crosswind), and I think I did fine. I sort of knew that, given that I have flown in all sorts of whacky conditions with my CFI.

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