We've had an insane El Niño season in California, and the weather has been solid IMC for weeks and weeks. We need the water, but still. Yeesh. :)
Anyway, today was VMC so I played hookey from work and went on a practice flight.
As I did a normal takeoff from KPAO, the plane felt weird. Like, just not the usual. And I looked down and had this feeling like, omg, I'm flying in this thing -- are you quite sure that this is safe? Should this not be a job for, like, the professionals?
I motored off to the area SouthEast of KLVK and did a bunch of air work: steep turns, slow flight with and without flaps, steep turns, stalls in landing configuration. I also selected a field and road and did rectangular patterns, turns about a point, and S-turns on a road.
The air work was okay, even though my steep turns got worse as time went by. The ground reference work was passable, but the S-turns, traditionally my weakest ground reference maneuver, were sort of all over the place.
I returned to KPAO and did one normal landing, one short field takeoff, one short field landing (a bit low but passable), one soft field takeoff, and another short field landing (was sent to the higher-AGL pattern side, so my descent was a bit steeper and it worked better).
By the time I was back, things were back to normal and I was feeling like I knew how to fly planes again. But wow, man -- 5 weeks is all it took! Says something about currency.
While doing my ground reference maneuvers, I was tuned to 121.5. Someone called in going, "2TA Palo Alto Tower, can you read me?" I tried to be helpful and replied, "2TA this is Guard". They repeated what they said. I again tried to be helpful going, "2TA you are on Guard frequency, 121.5". Then someone piped in and said, "He knows, that's why he's using it!" I wasn't sure what to make of that but I figured I'd stay out of it. There were no more calls to Guard.
Usually if I were calling Palo Alto on Guard frequency, I'd say so -- which is why I thought the other pilot had forgotten to retune their radio (something I have totally done myself) and was trying to help. Oh well. Hope they got it sorted out eventually.