This Day Ten Years Ago


… I flew my last flight out of my favorite airport taking my visiting sister for a flight seeing flight over the beautiful Central Coast!

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 the full article by following this link: https://flynthings.net/2010/09/30/slothe-simple-joy-of-flying/

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.

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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.

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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?

Logging Memories Part II


A good pilot is always learning

“Zero”

The needle stubbornly refused to budge. I hoped anytime soon it would swing back to life. It was barely a few weeks since I had gotten my private pilot license and I was really a novice at this thing. The aircraft lifted of the runway, but still the airspeed indicator read “0”.  It was a glorious summer day and I had taken my best friend from college who was visiting me, flying up the California coast to Monterrey. She was only my second passenger since that extraordinary spring day when I had earned my wings.

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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.

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Faces behind the Voices


First go, then no go, then go again or maybe no go. So fluctuated the weather forecast for our upcoming flight to Fox field to visit the Air Route Traffic Control Center or ARTCC ( simply know as  LA Center) at Palmdale.  The day dawned with visibility quarter mile and 100 foot ceiling, with forecast calling for clear skies after10:00 am. As the skies cleared for another perfect day of flying, Anne and I set off on an IFR flight to Fox field in communication with our friends watching over us in a dark room whence we were going.

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