Sunday, August 23, 2015

N162HG 1.8 Sightseeing down the coast with Aden

The Wx was reported clear over the coast today (even clear over KHAF, imagine that!), so Aden and I decided to go for a sightseeing tour, sort of a repeat of the one I did with Melissa a while back.

This time, Aden helped me preflight, draining the fuel and following me around as I got ready. We departed Left Dumbarton without event.

As soon as we crossed OSI, it was clear that, while the coast was navigable, there was going to be no landing at KHAF; it was already thickly overcast. We turned Southeast and flew down the coast.

Aden took the controls for a while, keeping us down the coast and doing some 360s. He did pretty well, given that this is the first time he held the controls of a plane. He kept altitude within a couple hundred feet, without looking at the altimeter.

We found Las Trancas (private airport on the coast) then dead-reckoned from there to try to find Bonny Doon (another private airport farther inland). Amazingly, we found it. It actually has an asphalt strip and everything! And apparently it's for sale. Hm. :)

On our way back, the clouds had moved in but were not horrible -- but, to be on the safe side, we went directly from Pigeon Point lighthouse to OSI.

I did some takeoff and landing practice just to make sure I didn't forget:

* My first landing was "normal" where I practiced greasing it in, cutting power gently and only when very near the ground. Worked well.

* Next, short field takeoff which was uneventful, and a short field landing where I sort of had a little bit of high-flare disease, but I was right on the money for my landing spot.

* Finally, a soft field takeoff, then a soft field landing which went pretty nicely.

Overall, I was pretty happy with this flight.

Friday, August 14, 2015

N181DF (1.7) DA40 Bay Tour with Rodrigo

This was 1.7 of time when I did much/most of the flying, but not loggable since I was not PIC (and cannot be, since I'm a Sport Pilot).

I went up with Rodrigo in Advantage Aviation's Diamond DA40. The plan was to learn about transitioning the SFO Bravo and try out a new airplane.

After takeoff, Rodrigo taught me how to adjust the propeller, throttle and mixture. This was my first experience with a constant-speed prop aircraft.

We were not approved for a Bravo transition, so instead we turned West and flew up the coast. I have so far been really scared of this route, since I imagined there would be masses of traffic all trying to squeeze into the "slot" between the surface Bravo and the ocean (not wanting to go too far out to sea). Well, it turns out there was some traffic, but not a whole bunch. Quite manageable and easy to see. We were talking to Norcal, so getting traffic alerts helped.

What was more interesting as we flew up past San Francisco is that we were directly in the path of KSFO Rwy 28 departures, and in at least one case, they asked us to hold our position because one such departure was not climbing. I was flying at the time, and I put us into an immediate left turn. The thought of a midair with a B777 or whatever was not pleasant! :) In any case, when I do this next time, I'm definitely going to be talking to Norcal.

We flew over the Golden Gate Bridge and towards Alcatraz, diverting a bit North to avoid a stadium TFR over San Francisco. Norcal asked our intentions, and Rodrigo said we wanted to fly over the Oakland Coliseum. That got us over to KOAK tower, who directed us to go to the Coliseum then overfly the Rwy 30 numbers, then proceed to mid-span of the San Mateo Bridge.

Rodrigo asked if I wanted to do some air work and I said yes. So, at that point, he asked to terminate flight following.

We then flew towards Sunol and, mindful of the SFO Bravo above us, climbed to 5500' over the Livermore valley area. He demonstrated a gradual stall, which was amazing -- the plane just mushed down and buffeted, but nothing even remotely similar to traditional stall was present. He then demonstrated a steep turn, and had me do some of my own. Definitely takes some getting used to -- there is really not much need for back pressure in the turns, even when pretty steep.

We flew back to KPAO via Sunol, with me doing the radio and Rodrigo flying, and demonstrating the use of the autopilot.

I was awe-struck by the Diamond. After the Flycatcher, it feels so roomy! The back seat on that thing is huge! We were cruising -- oh -- 110 kias, meaning about 125 mph more or less, at 9gph. That's 14 mpg, which is not great, but I guess it's not horrible either.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

N162HG 2.1 Flight to Byron with Rodrigo

I've been meaning to fly with various friends. This week, my family is away, so I have lots of time. I started the week with a bit of a virus or something, so I was not up to taking to the air, but today I felt okay. On the spur of the moment, I asked my pilot friend Rodrigo if he wanted to go flying, and we went off to the airport....

I thought my charts expired August 05 so I ran to get new ones, catching the airport store at the last minute. Then once I had them I realized they expired August 20, and the ones I bought were identical to the ones I had. Oh well. :)

I planned for 1/2 tanks this time, and we decided to go to Byron for some takeoffs and landings, and refuel there for the trip back. On the way there, Rodrigo took the controls and did some maneuvers to get a feel for the plane. He said the rudder felt "heavy", which of course mirrors my own sentiments on the matter. :) We did some pattern work, landed, got fuel, then did some more pattern work and returned. On the way back, I tried using Rodrigo's copy of Foreflight on his iPad to see how it felt; it was pretty nice.

One thing Rodrigo mentioned is that I tend to cut power around 50' up, dive for the runway, then arrest the descent. He was like, why don't you keep in power until the point where you start flaring, so you don't have this massive sink that you then have to arrest? I tried that and my landings became very, very smooth! Wow! Of course they were not short landings, but that's not the intention when you come in with power and a standard stabilized approach. I'm calling this my new "no artificial emergency" method of landing, where I do not create an emergency then attempt to recover from it.

I noticed that I am now much better at "automatically" calling out my untowered airport maneuvers. I am not so much thinking "wait am I on crosswind? left or right? ..." -- I just rattle out the right thing to say and it comes out correct without too much thought. "Byron Traffic Skycatcher 162HG left crosswind runway 23 Byron". Then I'm like, really was that correct? Yes! Wow, go figure!

All in all, I did 6 landings, and Rodrigo flew some of the cruise and maneuvers and our approaches into Byron and Palo Alto.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

N162HG 1.1 Sightseeing along the coast with Melissa

With our son at a friend's, Melissa and I took the opportunity to run to the airport for a quick flight. We departed Left Dumbarton from Palo Alto, got to the coast around Pescadero, then flew down all the way to Davenport, turned around and flew back, then came back to land at Palo Alto.

There were some clouds over Half Moon Bay that I judged, correctly as it turned out, would not creep over the mountain pass near the Woodside VOR by the time we came back. There was also a thick layer out over the sea, but we were able to sightsee while staying well clear.

I did a short-field landing. Melissa called it "bouncy" but I did not really bounce; she just was noticing the bump down onto the spring gear. I was almost stopped in, like, 200'; I had to quickly accelerate back and motor on to exit Bravo to get out of the way of landing traffic. Overall, I was pretty happy with my landing, except that I would have liked to see a higher/steeper approach.

Melissa took lots of pictures and enjoyed it, which was great!