My Ten Favorite Flights


Flying is everything to me. After every new adventure, I start thinking and planning for the next one 🙂

There are some adventures, that are so out of this world, that I don’t mind repeating them… again and again!

Some time ago, I posted my Favorite Destinations!

Here are the latest ten of my favorite destinations, that I have done at least twice, if not more, so far!

#10: Monterey

#9: Santa Barbara

#8: Half Moon Bay

#7: Tangier Island

tangier

#6 Kill Devil Hills

IMG_3203

#5: Key West

SouthermostPoint2

#4: SFO: Up Close & Personal

 

#3: NY Hudson River Corridor

Circling the Lady

#2: Bahamas

exumas3

#1: Oshkosh

osh10

And, I will very likely do them again 🙂

 

 

 

Reunion Flight with M^2


Seems like Old Times

“Cutlas 02B, cleared R29, straight out”

We were off, with familiar sights ahead of us: pristine blue skies, three stacks, Morro Rock and the wide blue ocean.

Straight out, as we departed runway 29 and headed straight for the ocean, following highway 1. Off somewhere to the left, was my home, when I last lived in these parts. It was clear and calm, with unlimited visibility. The sky blended into the ocean and the Cuesta Ridge, Irish Hills, Islay Hills, and Bishop Peak, were all clearly visible. The lack of rains and drought, had rendered the hills brown. Yet, the clear blue skies and turquoise blue Pacific Ocean, provided uninterrupted and unending vistas.

morro

We headed out to the ever familiar Morro Rock, before turning towards North, hugging the coastline. The three stacks clearly visible as was the Morro Rock. We traced the coastline following the Cabrillo Highway past Estero Bay and further north to San Simeon. Circling Hearst Castle is something every pilot did in the Central Coast. Talk about circling about a point!

Hearst1

We headed out further north to Point Pedras, circling the lighthouse, before turning south, keeping the coastline to our left and heading back, looking for seals.  For old times sake, I had opted to shoot the ILS R11 approach in VFR conditions. We headed straight for CREPE intersection, while I attempted to re-familiarize myself with flying an instrument approach procedure without an on board GPS, using ILS and VOR only.

ILS29

Once I got the handle of things, the approach itself was fairly straight-forward. Leveling off a little before HASBY intersection  at 1,200 ft, I circled and set up for downwind 29 with short approach. Landing on R29 brought back fond memories of the innumerable landings I had made here…

R29

I learnt to fly in SLO. The last time I flew with my primary flight instructor Michelle G was back in 2002. The last time I flew with my friend Michelle TG was back in 2005 and the absolute last time I flew here was back in April 2009 when I got my BFR and helped paint the Compass Rose!

slo

m2Good to be back in the air with M^2 in familiar territory.

imageGood to be home!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Acknowledgements:

Some photographs by Michelle Torres Grant

Tower Tours


I learned to fly in California, at a small GA airport with a control tower. My first tower tour was during my private pilot training. I don’t remember the exact time line, but sometime after I soloed and before my check-ride, I climbed the many steps up to the top with my instructor to meet the local Air Traffic Controllers(ATC) and learn more about what they did, what they saw and what they expected of me as a pilot flying over their airspace. In those days my local tower still operated with little automation. Controllers looked out the windows with powerful binoculars to spot traffic and provide separation in the terminal area.

IMG_1291

Since then, I have made the trip many times with other fellow pilots to learn the changing practices over time. I watched my local control tower upgrade from no automation to increasing automation, availability of radar service, and even the implementation of the Standard Terminal Area Replacement System (STARS) which provided them with latest automation software and computer screens that replaced the old scopes from the 70’s. While the binoculars are not gone and still used as needed, the latest automation provided additional information at their finger tips to not only help them in their jobs but also to better help pilots.

I think interaction with the ATC is such a key aspect of being a pilot. In my time, I have had many opportunities to not only  visit the local control tower, but also interacted with the controllers at a personal level. Controllers seemed really interested in helping pilots understand what was expected of them. As a member of a very active 99s chapter, I have had occasion to organize or attend safety seminars that included ATC. Each year as airport day activities, we volunteered to enable the general public take Tower Tours in small groups. I have had numerous occasions to visit Terminal Radar Control and Center facilities to better understand the kind of support they provided to VFR pilots.

IMG_1794

I almost took it for granted that private pilots visited control tower at their airport with their instructors to better understand the air traffic control aspect of flying. Just as I took it for granted, that an instructor hopped out of the aircraft and went up to the tower, while the student pilot taxied timidly off to conduct his/her solo flights.

So it came to me as a surprise, when I found out recently that instructors don’t necessary visit the tower, even though it exists at the airport. True it is not needed. A handheld radio will suffice. For some reason, I felt a little disappointed.

I have always been curious to see the faces behind the voices, to give a name and a face to the person I was talking to. While one trip might not do the trick, I am happy that after wondering about it, I finally made it up the tower to make some new friends in high places at my local airport.

See also:
Faces behind the voices
Hanger Walk  Anyone?

Randomness


IMG_3516I have been writing articles about my flying adventures or blogs as they are now known as since 2001. My website has transitioned from geocities (remember that free website from yahoo?) to a hosted site on yahoo: flynthings.net to the free google flynthings.blogspot.com and finally to flynthings.wordpress.com.

Over the years, unfortunately I have lost photographs I have posted in older writings. While it was easy to transition my writings from these other sites, transporting my photographs wasn’t as easy. Please bear with me as I work through these older posts and update them.

It is always interesting to see what posts visitors of my site read. For example, very recently, I was surprised and excited to see someone read my blog entry on From Palms to Pines. That adventure occurred almost 8 years ago.  Still a pleasure to read and treasure. Although I am sorry that the photographs no longer exist.

One of these days I hope to track the media where I stored the photographs and re-post them to the appropriate blog. Just as well, that I mean to re-post my exciting photos from my trips to OSH during my earlier visits.

Before I forget, thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you enjoyed your time here!

Guest Post: Flying Follies


As Central Coast pilots we are somewhat lucky to be forced into thorough pre-flight planning and most especially at night. We are fortunate to have a lot of dark, unpopulated areas in our county, with marginal evening weather to encourage safe and well thought out flight plans. As instructors we should encourage additional night and instrument training, more then what the regulations require to ensure we are all safe up there
STB_0215

Students do not always play by the rules and in fact at times create their own. One year I signed off a student for his first long cross country. We went over the weather and the flight plan together and everything went well. I signed him off and went on my way. Well, for some reason he decided to go run errands and eat before the trip and left several hours latter then he was supposed to. The marine layer was moving in while the sun was setting. I tried to reach him through phoning Center and Hawthorne FSS, but we all kept missing him. When he did turn up, he flew on top, and then scud ran to our airport making it in before the weather.

On his debriefing, I learned that the hood work I trained him on, paid off, contributing to his safe return. My mistake was not making it clear that he should take off at the time he was supposed to with the weather forecast and initial briefings he received. Incidentally since then, I’ve made my students’ cross-country limitations more time specific.

Another interesting example of a student’s creativity was a time when one of my school’s students decided to invent his own cross-country. I agreed to meet and sign off a student for a trip to Salinas with one stop at Paso Robles. His flight planning was great, but the forecast weather was marginal. We decided at the last minute to cancel that trip because of inclement weather, but he wanted a sign off to Lompoc where he lived. We discussed the flight route and airspace, got the weather (severe VMC) and I signed him off. When he got back several hours latter he announced he did a long cross country after all! He combined a previous sign off to PRB with his new Lompoc sign-off and created his own cross country.

What should we learn from all of this? Well, students and new pilots all have minds and ideas of their own with little experience to guide them. Just as youngsters want to get out, explore and discover things for themselves, the best we can do as instructors (or perhaps parents) is teach then how to safely get out of poorly made decisions, or the unexpected. Study the accident reports no matter how depressing they may be, then set up and simulate them with your students or fellow pilots. Practice recovering from different emergencies and don’t always relay on accurate weather forecast and briefings to keep you out of danger. Know how to get out of it when the unpredictable happens.

Michelle Graceffa

Hanger Walk Anyone?


Revisiting Old Stomping Grounds…

The Spirit of San Luis was as it always was. Sitting on the outside deck it could have been business as usual: a normal SLO99s meeting or a gathering before the traditional Cookies to the Tower or a Hanger Party of some extraordinary Aviatrix in the Central Coast planning the next big event.

Continue reading

Weather and me


Everyone have their demons.

Some people are afraid of flying.  They rather prefer to drive, stuck in traffic for hours than get on an aircraft. Period. There is  SOAR,  fear of flying program that includes DVDs for people with fear of flying. The term used to describe this is Aviophobia.

Continue reading

Night and Actual


Know Your Limitations!

So began another exciting day or must I say night of my flying adventure. Let me confess right at the outset, I have never been and will never be keen about night flying. I am the kind of person that likes to see where I am going. Clear blue skies and a fine sunny day is my kind of day to flying the friendly skies. That being said, I do like to venture out, once every now and then, with a seasoned Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) in the right seat to experience, the deeper darker forces that come into play and make flying all that more challenging than it already is, as is posed by flying a night IFR flight in actual conditions.

Continue reading

Logging Memories Part I


How it all began

After almost a decade of flying, last year marked the end of a chapter of my flying or rather the end of my first log book and the start of a fresh new one with scores of pages ready to be filled! I was glad I did not need to scratch off the 19 and put a 20 any more. Rummaging through the pages of the log book brought back fond memories of past adventures.  The very first entry from almost twelve years ago read “Intro Flt”. Two simple words filled with the immense exhilaration of taking flight literally! The start of my flight training was not straight forward. I never met my first would be instructor. The second instructor lasted 4 lessons. Traversing three different flight schools at the same airport, and four different instructors before finally sheer determination won the day!

Continue reading

SLO: The Simple Joy of Flying


My first glimpse was from the observation lounge of the Pacific super liner as it winded around the curve past the California Men’s Colony into the city of San Luis Obispo. Nestled in the valley approximately midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, away from the maddening crowd yet within easy distance, San Luis Obispo or SLO as the locals fondly call it, is a small campus town of 40000 plus inhabitants mostly students, and staff of the nearby CalPoly (California Polytechnic State University) and retirees.

Founded in 1772, it is one of California’s oldest colonies. Famous for its Mission San Luis and Thursday night Farmer’s Market. Where Jamba Juice, was first established as the Juice Club and aviation legend Burt Rutan went to college.  Home of the eccentric Madonna Inn established by Alex Madonna, I Madonnari Italian street painting festival (usually hosted in September) and Bubble Gum Alley.

To me it is and will always be Home Sweet Home!

Continue reading