C.K's Flight Log 2003-2004

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Places I've been, how I got there, comments on airports and navaids. I fly out of Reid-Hillview airport and I'm parked at Hangar J-4. Stop by and say "Hey"! Latest flights first : Note: All flights since May 2004 are in Mooney M20K 231 N3636H unless otherwise indicated. Further note: if you see an na after an approach count, that stands for not actual's, meaning I shot the approach in VFR conditions without a hood.

21 December 2004 RHV SCK O27 MOD Time: 3.0 Landings: 1 Approaches: 8
Flew out to Stockton alone, planned to meet Don there, do our air work, then leave the airplane at Top Gun aviation for some work. Very bumpy coming out of Reid Hillview going over the Calveras Pass (fortunately there were PiReps on DUATS so I was prepared). One moderate jolt, most light. Then at about 3500 it just stopped. On out to Stockton VFR into 29L, nice landing. Taxied over to Top Gun and got set up for the work (see maint log) . Don flew in, got back into my airplane and did 8 approached. Started with two ILS into Stockton, went very smoothly. Localizer was pretty much dead on, still need some work on power settings for glideslope. Then GPS, VOR. Then over to Oakdale for the GPS approach there, went very nicely. Flew missed to the correct intersection and flew the hold, forgot to tell the controller when I entered the hold. Then over to Modesto for GPS & VOR/DME, both were OK. Back to Stockton, ILS for full stop. At decision height I wanted to land, Don coaxed me through staying on glide to the runway, that's what it's there for. Nice landing, over to Top Gun. During turbo cool-down left mag ran very rough, 400 RPM drop. Glad it's staying there to get worked on!

17 December 2004 RHV SCK TCY LVK Time: 3.2 Landings: 1 Approaches: 8
Bright sunny day, some haze. So time to fly around under the hood. Out to Stockton, did the GPS approach. Then ILS approaches, first I fell off altitude control at the end, then right down the pike, close to needles centered the whole way down. Not perfect, but good. Over to Tracey to do a few GPS and VOR approaches in. With the sun and the haze, even though there were no clouds, it was a VFR day that you needed an IFR rating to fly in. VOR approaches were OK, Don failed the attitude indicator & the heading indicator on the first one, and I was conflicting my reactions by splitting my attention between the Garmin 530 and the CDI for the 2nd radio for nav. I need to pick one and track it. 2nd one was better. Back to the hold at the Tracey VOR and on tot he Livermore ILS. Not so good, I delayed reacting to the glideslope. Part of the problem, which I'm sure some folks in more desolate areas would be kinda irked with me about, is that our instrument airports are so close together up here in NorCal, you just climb up out of the missed on one approach and you're almost already tracking the localizer on the next. Back to RHV.

12 December 2004 RHV SCK Time: 1.9 Landings: 1 Approaches: 3
Nice cloudy day. Out to Stockton, didn't have time to do a lot so just one GPS and one ILS into Stockton, then the GPS to RHV. Don failed the attitude indicator on the way out. He also pulled the circuit breaker on the turn coordinator. Easier to fly straight-and-level with those two failed than I thought it would be Autopilot GPS approach with the Garmin 530 was a non-event. The only challenge is insuring you hit the step-downs right with the autopilot up/down buttons. ILS was not quite as good, I was probably 200 ft. right on breakout. Probably could have made the landing, but sloppy.

Interesting thing was ATC being super-busy. Quite a few folks asking for popup IFR clearances, and the Santa Clara valley was hopping because the wind was from the south, so San Jose departures were to the south, which clogs up flow into the valley. ATC did a great job, but you could hear it in their voices that it was a stressful afternoon.

7 December 2004 RHV SCK TCY LVK Time: 4.5 Landings: 3 Approaches: 12
Starting & scheduling problems hopefully behind us. lets go IFR training. Airplane did start on the first spin, but still harder to start than I'd like. IFR climbout to Stockton. Weather somewhat cloudy, but very gentle, passing through the clouds with hardly a bump. One GPS then 3 ILS approaches into Stockton, then we landed. Landed with a quartering tailwind, good practice and good that it was an 8,000 ft runway. Though actually I was down in 4,000. Taxied over to Top Gun aviation, met Tom Rauch, had some good talk and a nice break. Started back up, did the GPS then 3 VOR approaches into Stockton. On the missed, flew over to Tracey to do the VOR there. Entering the hold at Tracey, ATC let us know that we would have to spin in the hold for a while while other traffic passed. Great! Not just a procedure turn, but a real hold! VOR into Tracey, missed, another VOR approach, miss and hit the hold, set up for the ILS into Livermore, flew it in to about 1,000 ft then circle to land the other way. Taxied to the end, then back up and GPS approach into Reid-Hillview.

That's a lot of flying. 4.5 hours in the air, 12 approaches. Not a bad days work! Only one minute where I let the airplane get to the squirrel point, recovered it. Only one "N3636H, maintain 3,000!" call from ATC. One bitter controller at Stockton who scolded me for not checking in when I had just that second been cleared to switch frequencies from Approach. Just said "Sorry" in reply. Heard one jerk on the airwaves, ATC asked him twice what altitude he wanted, both times he said nastily "I filed for 17,000!". Well, dude, if you filed for 17,000, why not just say "Requesting 17,000 please". Sheesh. Needle following was much better today, I still need work on altitude. Once I get there and get trimmed things are great, it's just taking too long to get there.

26 November 2004: RHV Time .8 Landings 1
Just wanted to fly a little.

20-21 November 2004: RHV Paso Robles RHV Time 2 landing 2
Down to Paso Robles for a weekend visit to Justin Winery. Took off at about 10 AM, forecast was that Paso Robles would be clear at 10. Got about 40 miles out, and heard on IFR takeoff from Paso, and the ASOS was reporting 100 ft ceiling and 1 mile vis. ABout 8 miles out we told Oak Center that we were diverting to San Luis Obispo (which was 10/20). Got right over PRB and looked down, and the airport was VFR. Don't know what's wrong with their ceiling reporter,there was no ceiling. Landed on rwy 1, parked.
Back out Sunday morning, little windy on the field. Weather briefer had told us of wind and light turb along the route north, but completely clear. Not a bad flight back, the bumps down by PRB were very mild, and the wind was not directly on the nose so we kept 145-155 knots groundspeed. Kept the airplane at 8,500 since the trip was so short. Dropped ito the Silicon valley, and was surprised at the turbulence. We were getting buffeted around at 4,000 ft. more than I've ever felt in 3 years flying the Valley. Dropped down to RHV, bumps smoothed out below 2,000, nice landing with a 15 knot wind right on the nose cushioning us on to the ground.
BTW, easy pickup of VFR traffic advisories on both flights.

13 November 2004: RHV Stockton RHV Time 2.9 landing 1
Back to IFR training after two weeks of airplane in the shop. Nice cloudy day. Out to Stockton, shot the GPS and VOR approaches. 2.9 on the clock, and about 1.5 of that was actual instrument, which was neat. Still not deliberate enough on course and altitude corrections, but it got better as we went on. Back to RHV and the GPS approach into RHV. 7 approaches total, a good workout.

12 November 2004: RHV Time .4 landing 2
Airplane out of maintenance, two circuits of the pattern to make sure everything is OK. It is.

30 October 2004: RHV UKI RHV Time 2.2 landing 2

Wanted to fly a little without being under the hood. Planned to go up to Mendocino. since it might be clear. Nice day at RHV, hard start on the engine (going into the shop Monday to fix that). Up and away, up to 8.5k after passing the SFO class B. Out to the coast after Sonoma airport. Got up to Point Arena, and was clear that Mendocino was not going to be possible. Called FlightWatch to give them a pirep and let them know that Mendo was closed (they don't have any coastal weather reporting facilities nearby so pireps help a lot), they said Thanks and asked what my new destination was. Uuuuh, I dunno, I just found out Mendocino was closed. Decided fast on Ukiah, and flew 10 minutes back inland to land at Ukaih (NRST-direct, follow the line, GPS is so cool) because I hadda go to the restroom. Nice landing. Of course, on a 5000x1500 runway it's hard not to make a nice landing. Wandered around thinking we could get something to eat, but the diner across the street was closed. So back into the airplane and up. Up to 7.5k, picked up flight following and on into the bay area. Nice tailwind, we were making, at 7.5k, 196 knots ground speed, which is ripping right along. Since I had ATC tracking, I stayed up at 5.5k over Concord and down to Livermore. I usually drop down to 3.5, since the base of the Class B is 6k, but with ATC I am comfortable staying 500 feet clear at 5.5, And it kept us in the wind, we were still making 170 knots gs down the 680 freeway. In to the RHV area, and things were busy The tower was handling a lot of airplanes, and there were more than usual folks who were being stupid, not following good radio procedure. At one point he was talking to two cessnas coming up from the south, and one censsa asked "Cessna XXX, was that for me" and the tower said "Well, since you're the only one of the two that is responding, I'll talk to you". We were coming in from the north, which always means looking out for traffic taking off. Fortunately we were watching, and I did a left 360 to avoid a Cherokee taking off. Told the tower I was turning, and he apologized, the Cherokee had waited too long after getting his takeoff clearance. Then down the rest of the pattern, and a Baron was close in for a straight in for the same runway, and the tower asked if I could tighten my turn to base, then he modified that to say "Just teardrop in to the runway". Heck, Mooneys built for that, make the turn, pop the speed brakes, drop right down and stuck a very pretty short field landing and got off the runway at the 2nd taxiway.

28 October 2004: RHV SNS RHV Time 1.9 landing 1
IFR training. Approaches into Salinas tonight for the first time. Went well for a first time. Approach number one was a behind the curve a mile approach, but but after the first experience of doing all the bits it got better. Practice will work this out, there were no barriers to knowing what to do, just time to actually do all the parts.

23 October 2004: RHV ECA RHV Time 2.6landing 1
IFR training, dang, been 11 days since I flew, much less flew under the hood. Filed an IFR plan out to Stockton, the gentleman at the FSS was very chatty, and very grumpy at you lazy guys at Stockton for not having your ASOS complete, he's mad at you. Engine hard to start, too, of course after sitting for more than a week, taxi out, get clearance, then sit between the runways waiting for release. It was an "Everybody south" day, so San Jose was taking off southward as well as RHV, that adds delay since I basically have to fly across their departure path to cross over the SJC VOR for the SUNOL departure. Waited about 8 minutes for release, then up and out. Real IMC, lots of calm, collected, stratus clouds to fly through out to Stockton, which was nice, I could lift the hood and fly "real" IFR for much of the transit time. No bumps, not much wind, this was a very very slow moving front coming through.
  Out near Stockton, Don asks for some space around the Manteca VOR. We get 5 NM @ 5,000 to play around in. An hour and a half of holding. Teardrop. Parallel, Direct, etc. etc., did a heck of a lot of holding. Not bad, now that I've done it I need to go back and re-read it and integrate what I read with what I did. Back to RHV, fly the GPS 31 approach for real this time,. Pretty much fun. Good landing for speed and flare, slightly sideways on touchdown.
Oh, and by the way: When I first bought 3636H I debated keeping the KNS-80 and Loran vs. upgrading to the GNS 530. Hooo boy, am I sure glad I had the 530 installed! The awareness the 530 gives you in IFR conditions cannot be beat (well, it can be beat with a bigger screen full color system, but you know what I mean).

12 October 2004: RHV Time 2.0 landing 1
2nd IFR training flight. Up (hood on at 1,000) and over to Salinas. VOR intercepts, DME arcs, and two procedure turns. Did OK, I need to work a little more on my visualization of the task. Once we're into it, then flying the task is fine (except for some sloppy altitude at times), but my internal pre-visualization needs to be better. I have some ideas. Flight was predominately night, so no peeking. Though I'm not really tempted to peek under the hood, peeking doesn't make your altitude any better, now does it?
Back to RHV, ran the GPS approach for the first time (Figure I'll be doin' that a lot). Then onto the ground, not a great landing, but not a killer. 1.9 under the hood.

10 October 2004: RHV Time 1.9 landing 1
OK, so I lied up there, I will list my training flights. Took my first IFR training flight (contact me privately if you want to know my instructors name, I don't want him spammed unnecessarily). Of course, the first IFR flight just had to be on a perfectly beautiful CAVU day! Spent 1.7 under the hood over the ocean (dammit, it was pretty out there when I peeked) doing airwork to hone my instrument scan and interpretation. This was the first time I had spent any time in the Mooney under the hood, so it was a good calibration of feel for the instruments. Obviously, 1.7 hours meant a lot of work, and I felt very comfortable. Didn't do perfectly, of course, but better than I thought I would for the first time under the hood, and got a good feel for what I consider to be two important airplane feel issues; what a standard rate turn feels like to set, and better throttle use. I was too slow applying power at first, got better at it. ANd having an HSI with a couple flux gate compass sure takes the "set DG to compass" anxiety out of things.

2-3 October 2004: RHV - PRB - RHV To:1.1, 1 landing Return 1.4, 2 landings
Down to Paso Robles for an American Cancer Society benefit at Justin winery

Flight down completely uneventful, just an hour's hop down the101. Return, we left knowing that San Jose and RHV were overcast at 1,300, but might make the forecast, clearing by the time we got there. Got to Hollister, and could see solid undercast ahead, so we went over to the inland valley and flew on up to a VFR Livermore for lunch. An hour later, clouds broken up over RHV, short hop back.

29 September 2004: RHV
Weather: Ceiling 20,000, 15, wind 170 @ 8 Duration: 0.5 Landings:2 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Airplane out of maintenance (see maint log ), wanted to take it up in the air to wring out anything that might have been missed, going to Paso Robles this weekend. And dang me, I forgot to tell Magnum that I only wanted 7 quarts of oil in the crankcase, so they did what they should and filled it to 8 quarts. Which means next weekend I'll be cleaning a quart of oil off the bottom of the airplane.
Short flight, two OK landings. We were still landing rwy 31 with the winds between 170 and 220, so first landing was a little long with the tailwind.

18-19 September 2004:RHV- -VGT - RHV
Weather: Ceiling 20,000, 15, wind 340 @ 5 Duration: 6.4 Landings:3 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Vegas, baby! Jeeez it's been months since I've been to Vegas. We got tickets to a show (Zumanity at NYNY, in the end not the best Circ du Solei show), Karen set up her spa appointments, and we set up for dinner with friends.
I set up backup tickets on American, and almost used them, the weather was looking, for the first time in months, a little cloudy.
Got up Saturday morning early, and the route looked fine, so we flew ourselves.
Planned to 17,500, direct to Friant, direct Beatty, then into North Las Vegas.
Up and over to Friant. 20 some minutes to climb up to 17.5. Clouds on the Sierras this far north, had to slide down the range about 40 miles before we got past the cloud line, then straight across. Karen was watching a movie on her new 12 inch PowerBook, so she didn't even look at the mountains as we flew over, sheesh. Flight was smooth and clear, not a ripple crossing the mountains. I expected a little, since we were picking up a nice 25-35 knot tailwind, but not a bit. My groundspeed was near 200 knots the whole trip across, very pleasant.
Down from Beatty, keep the road on our left. In contact with Approach the whole way, they double checked to insure we were aware of the restricted area on the far side of the road. Some bumps as we when past the last mountain into Las Vegas, then straight in to 12 R. Actually had a little trouble seeing the airport, everything in Vegas is pretty much the same color, very hard to pick out the asphalt strip even when I picked up the VASI lights. Parked, dropped the O2 bottle off for service, free shuttle to the hotel. Pretty uneventful.
Trip back on Sunday, a little more eventful. Took off at 11:30, with weather indications that the north San Joaquin valley and the SF bay area had some clouds and precipitation.
Also had a winds aloft forecast of 50 knots at 240. In other words, a 50 knot headwind, ick. Took off and headed north. Neared the mountain, and the bumps began. Steady turbulence with some real jolts along the way, Karen was worried! Airplane handled fine, though, nothing to fret about except the odd screw popping out of the overhead from the interior overhaul. Now the ugly part begins, not from a safety standpoint but from an Gosh, wind is nasty sense.: Got up to 14,000 for 16,500, and turned west. Slow down. GPS indicated ground speeds as slow as 70 knots at times, the wind was really howling. No turbulence, it was smooth air, but it was just keeping the flight slow. Took nearly an hour and a half from VGT to Bakersfield, the route I ended up taking to stay away from clouds.
The cloud cover was pretty solid on the north San Joaquin, and Flight Watch told quite a few airplanes that VFR flight up the valley was not recommended, but that the coast looked OK. Me, I need to know that some airports are clear, so asked about Salinas. Salinas was 20 vis and 12000. So I had Bakersfield behind me in the clear and Salinas ahead of me bright and clear, so out to the coast and up to Salinas. WInds about 10,000 were still whipping on the nose, but I hadda climb to get over the mountains, so up and over at 110 knots.
Got up to Salinas, and the gap (Los Banos, where Hwy 152 runs) between Salinas and the Santa Clara valley connect had clouds too low. But the weather ahead of the wind looked promising.
So we landed at Salinas (landed with a 25 knot headwind right down the runway, slow and soft) for lunch and some fuel. Burned more than 40 gallons getting to Salinas from VGT, on the trip out had only burned 26 gallons RHV-VGT. Also, of course, landed to wait for the weather to pass. Or to rent a Hertz car if things didn't get better.
After an hour, back in the air, and things were better. Got through the pass at 4,500, up the valley, and down to RHV, nice landing.

11 September 2004:RHV- -RHV
Weather: Ceiling 20,000, 15, wind 340 @ 5 Duration: 1.0 Landings:1 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H

Just flyin around. Little high on flare (as usual), but fine landing. Hmmm, anything else? Nope.

4-6 September 2004:RHV- KBUR -RHV
Weather: Ceiling 15,000, 10, wind 290 @ 4 Duration:3.2 Landings:2 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Friend had tickets to the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday night, so we flew down to Hollywood for the weekend. For the flight down cranked her up to 13,500 and flew airways ROM-AVE-GMN then into Burbank. Originally had planned to go into Van Nuys, but a co-worker said "Man, Van Nuys is sooo busy, I always go into Burbank, much more mellow:" And he was right. On takeoff at about 11:30 on Saturday I knew I'd be picking up flight following because LAX was having a security alert, so all the southbound commercial airliners were sitting on the ground, we General Aviation aircraft had the frequencies to ourselves.

Very simple flight down, turn over the VORs and in. Over Gorman I told the controller that I was beginning my VFR decent, and he said "OK, Cleared to descend, cleared for straight in RWY 15, cleared to land, stay about 3,000, keep your speed up"!!. Hah, still at 13,5000 and I'm cleared to land, pretty much A-OK. I wanted to stay a little high over the foothills because there had been some turbulence reports. I was about 115 miles and passing through 10,000 when the controller asked if I was going to actually be able to make the approach. I replied "36H will make the approach, deploying speed brakes now". Airliner power decent with the spoiler up, 1600-2000 FPM and 180 knots, I love this airplane. At 3,000 4 miles out, brought the brakes in, switched to tower, cleared to land 15. Stayed at 150 knots until 1.5 miles out, bumped the speed brakes out again, dropped throttle. Over the blast fence brought the speed brakes in, nice 80 knots, settled gently down on the 150 wide runway, nice landing.

Parked at Mercury Air Center. OK service, nothing to write home about. They didn't charge my O2 bottle like I had asked, fortunately I had enough to get us home.

Took off Monday, Golden State departure north. LA Center could not provide flight following. I climbed to 12,500 and just punched the GPS direct to RHV and flew in a straight line for an hour and a half. Started descending south end of the valley, real power decent this time, 600 FPM and ground speed of 201 knots (still 20 knots shy of the yellow line on indicated airspeed). Landed a little long, but fine, parked, home.

31 August 2004:RHV- RHV
Weather: Ceiling 15,000, 10, wind 290 @ 10 Duration:1.1 Landings:1 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H

Been a while since I had a long flight, so went up and around. Out to Frazier lake, then into the inland valley. Steep turns left & right, some slow flight, then back into the silicon valley and to RHV. Nice landing. I had NO, zero, flaps on this landing and it seemed to settle much more comfortably and easily.
Stupid engine died at idle as I came off the runway again, I have to watch that carefully. Twice in a month.

29 August 2004:Concord-RHVCCR- RHV
Weather: Ceiling 15,000, 15, wind 300 @ 10 Duration:0.4 Landings:1 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Interior is ready! Drove up, flew back. Airplane is happy to be back in the air after sitting for two weeks.
New weight & balance, I lose about 30 pounds of usable. Oh well. The interior is great, look here!

16 August 2004:Reid- Concord RHV - CCR
Weather: Ceiling 15,000, 15, wind 300 @ 10 Duration:0.4 Landings:1 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Whoo hoo. Another 22 minute flight from Reid Hillview to Concord. Dropping the airplane off for the interior work, will be about 3 weeks that she'll be up there. Prolly rent a dumb old Cherokee sometime in that period to fly some. BTW, this flight takes me up to 4,500, since I have to clear the mountains around Calaveras Reservoir, so effectively in the Mooney (at 140 knots) it's climb out, peak of climb at 4,500, begin decent into Concord.

14 August 2004:Reid- Concord RHV - CCR
Weather: Ceiling 15,000, 15, wind 290 @ 12 Duration:0.8 Landings:2 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Time to spend more money. Went up to Concord to spec out an interior overhaul at Buchanon Aviation Services. Very short flight, 20 minutes each way, so not a whole heck of a lot to talk about. This is what they'll be doin' to my airplane next week....


10 August 2004: RHV
Weather: Ceiling 12,000, 25, wind 290 @ 10 Duration:0.7 Landings:6Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Didn't like my landings on Sunday, decided to spin in the pattern for a bit. Got better, the 5th and 6th landings were just Dandy. Lets see, how many landings have I made in this airplane to date, 48, compared to 460 in a Cherokee, so I'm still honing the feel. The only thing (seriously) I'm doing wrong is ms-estimating my distance above the ground and flaring too soon. Just have to get it burned into the back of my brain exactly what it looks like, since I sit further back and a little lower in this airplane. Other than that, speed management is both the key and easy.

8 August 2004: RHV-Oakdale RHV-O27
Weather: Ceiling 20,000, 25, wind 310 @ 7 Duration:1.7 Landings:2 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Been on vacation for two weeks, got to get out flying. Did my traditional south end of the valley, over the mountains, Oakdale landing, back over Livermore, then back to RHV. Stayed low, 5,500 down the valley and over the hills. But even being low I had to turn somewhat hard left and go downwards to avoid a 737 coming in out of the inland valley to San Jose at 6,000 or so, was monitoring NorCal so knew he was watching me also.
One go-around at Oakdale because I was too high on final, then a decent landing. I keep going out to Oakdale, by the way, because it's a dumb airport and I need to be nailing it. No VASI, hump in the middle, very little traffic, so I can get better at landing the little dear. Then back to RHV, OK landing. As I taxied off the end of the runway I had the throttle full out, and the stupid engine died. Restarted, taxied back to parking.

25 July 2004: RHV - O61 Out to Cameron Park
Weather: Ceiling unlimited, 29 Deg C, wind 300 @ calm Duration:1.8 Landings: 2 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Out to Cameron Park for a family visit, drop off some junk, pick up some junk. Uneventful flight out, stayed low (7,500 ft) for such a short flight.
Approach and landing at Cameron Park a little more challenging in the Mooney. The steeper glidepath meant higher speeds, I went around twice before really extending my downwind and slowing down enough. Trip back was also uneventful. Notice that the round-trip was 1/2 an hour faster in the Mooney than in the ratty ole rental Archer.

23 July 2004: RHV RHV
Weather: Ceiling unlimited, 25 Deg C, wind 300 @ 10 Duration:1.0 Landings: 1 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Nice Friday afternoon, time to fly a little. Engine was rough on the left mag at runup, ran it up to higher RPM for a bit and it smoothed out, this airplane doesn't like sitting for 2 weeks. Flew around, nothing much interesting. Nice landing.

7 July 2004: RHV RHV
Weather: Ceiling 12,000, 25 Deg C, wind 170 @ 14 Duration:0.7 Landings: 2Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H

. Wanted to fly this evening. Did. Went over Hollister, did some steep turns, did some different decent's. Then nailed two landings to replace the one stinky one I had on Monday.

4-5 July 2004: Reid Hillview - Santa Ana/John Wayne Airport - RHV
Return John Wayne Brackett DARTS Van Nuys CAMARILLO Santa Maria Paso Robles RHV

Weather: Ceiling 12,000, 17, Duration:2.4 out 2.2 return Landings:2 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H

Down to Santa Ana for the 4th for a resort day and visit Karen's daughter.
Waited around on the 4th for the clouds to clear up down in Ellay, Santa Ana and the entire basin were reporting 1,200-2,000 all morning. Finally Van Nuys opened up, and I predicted that the rest of the valley would clear up in the time it took to fly down. If it didn't I could land at Van Nuys and wait there.
Up, climbed to 11,500 for the trip down. Clear and smooth the whole way through the interior valley. Picked up VFR traffic advisories right off Reid Hillview, which was nice since that meant I didn't have to fight my way into SoCal Approach when I wanted to enter Santa Ana's Class C.
Started a decent to 7,500 over the Gorman VOR, wanted to be at 7,500 over Van Nuys. Controller asked what route I was taking, told him Van Nuys, DARTS, BRACKET, SNA and he said Sounds good to me. BTW, all the controllers were very friendly and professional the entire trip out and back.
Once again, you'll notice that I like to fly along the top of the Ellay basin (well heck, the TAC shows the VFR flyway there!). I did not want to cross the Class B around LAX if I could at all help it, no need to give those controllers extra airplanes. So you'll see that my route runs along the top edge of the Class B, then southward after Bracket (since I'm down at 7,500) under the east edge of the Class B. My hope was it would be an easy straight-in to Santa Ana.
And it was, with some variation. After the turn at Bracket the controller vectored me a few times for spacing, and to get a gentleman with bad radios onto the ground before me. Told me Keep your speed up so kept the Mooney at 140 knots on the approach. Aimed at Santa Ana, hand off to the tower.
Tower initially had me straight in for 19R (the 5,700 strip the commercials use), about 3 miles out she shifted me to 19L, the 2,700 GA strip. I was kinda expecting that so it was a smooth transition. Down to the runway, floated a little and set it down.
Taxi a long way to the end of the field and Newport Jet Center. OK FBO, not over the top. Got fuel and OX service.
Next day, at the airport by 2:30, all the clouds gone. Decided to take the coast back up since it looked clear and scenic. Called Clearance Delivery, asked for the 330 departure then north, OK'd, got transponder code. Left Newport JC, taxied to the runup. Note:You'll do your runup at the mid-field runup area NOT at the end of the runway. Look at the taxi diagram. Don't want a bunch of GA airplanes clogging the lanes doing runup's while the 737's are trying to get past.
Cleared across 19L hold short 19R. 737 lands in front of us, position and hold behind it. She clears, we're off. Initial alt limit 2,500, then 3,500, then 5,500 as I departed 330, then turned north.
Over Brackett and turn west, ask for 14,500 (since I had just filled to Ox bottle). Got up to 12,500 around Van Nuys and leveled off because I didn't seem to be getting any O2 flow.
Spent 20 minutes heading out to the coast and up a little seeing if we could get flow.Nope. Over Santa Barbara I asked for and descended to 10,500.
When we landed we found the bottle dead empty, so there is a leak somewhere in the system, dammit. Easy flight on home, hoppy landing. First in and out of Class C, easy, just pay attention and give good readback.
Oh Yeah. 26 gallons to get to SNA from RHV. At 150-155 knots gs. That's 10.8 gph, this is an efficient airplane.

25 June 2004: RHV RHV
Weather: Ceiling 12,000, 17, wind 310 @ 10 Duration:1.0 Landings:1 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H

Flying. That's it.

20 June 2004: RHV-South Lake Tahoe RHV-TVL
Weather: Ceiling 12,000, 17, wind 310 @ 15 Duration:2.6 Landings:2 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Insurance reqs. over, time to take Karen up. Decided to go up to South Lake Tahoe for a little shopping, casino time, and lunch. Warm day, briefer advised me about density altitude at Tahoe, I said "Turbochargers are great!". Out over Livermore, up to Sacramento VOR then Squaw Valley VOR, down the lakeshore to Tahoe. Could have gone direct, but wanted to stay on airways cuz I'm old-fashioned. 11,500 going out, 10,500 coming back. Air smooth as silk on the way out, some mountain bumps on the way back. Taught Karen the limitations of the traffic alert system, how it was great for alerts but we still had to be looking and seeing. Great example along the foothills between Cameron Park and over the mountains, the TAS showed an airplane paralleling our course within a mile and 200 ft., just couldn't find the lil guy visually.

Didn't have the straight in for 18, right traffic for 36. And boy howdy, that was the absolute best landing I've had in any airplane, she just settled right down on the runway with the stall horn chirping the last little bit. In to town in a taxi. Won't do that again, the taxi ride in was $25, back to the airport was $20, would have been better to rent a car. Played poker at Harvey's (lost $11) for a few hours while Karen shopped, then back to the airport. Density altitude was 8,400. Engine of course was fine, took the active and had a very nice climb out, using just a little more runway than I do at sea level. And 8,000 feet of wide concrete sure is nice to have.

Back to Reid Hillview, another nice landing. Only irksome thing is the taxi from the runway to my parking spot is really short, so I have to sit there with the engine running for 4 minutes more to cool the turbo.

19 June 2004: RHV-Oakdale RHV-O27
Weather: Ceiling 12,000, 10, wind 290 @ 10 Duration:3.5 Landings:2 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Last insurance mandated solo time, 3.3 hours needed, did 3.5. Flew from RHV to Merced to Oakdale (and landed) to Sacramento Exec to Lake Barriessa to Scaggs Island to Livermore to RHV. 3 hours of cruising at 10,5 or 9,5.
Spent a lot of time with the 530 and learning the engine settings. Cruise is nice down low (gets better high, of course), 140-160 knots at 10-12 gph. What's interesting is when you slim it down, go to the Cruise Performance charts and start dialing in endurance numbers. 22" manifold pressure, 2200 RPM, lean it, and you're getting 6.5 gph and still going over the ground at 130 knots. Damned rental Archers suck 9-10 gph and just give me 110-120, sure glad I bought this airplane. Back Home, now clear for passenger travel.

16 June 2004: RHV-Oakdale RHV-O27
Weather: Ceiling 12,000, 10, wind 290 @ 10 Duration:1.7 Landings:2Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H

More solo hours to log getting used to the airplane. Out to Oakdale, then down to Los Banos, across the mountains, then back to RHV. Stinky sky conditions, it might have said 10 miles, but the smog was so thick you could not see 10. Out to Oakdale, and damn this airplane goes fast. Even keeping it slow and low (7,500) to burn about 10 gph I nearly cut the time on a reasonably short trip like this in half. Landed, a little bit of a struggle because of the haze/smog and the low sun. Back up, complete the circuit. Or not. Passing over Los Banos I could see that the south half of the Santa Clara valley was fogged in. Didn't want to fly over solid fog if I could help it, so instead of crossing by Frazier Lake I flew north so I could cross over at South County (Q99). The into RHV. But damn, 7 miles out and I can barely see the airfield, and the sun is making it worse. Was way to high on approach, and went around. Second time 'round everything was fine and landed. Flight, again, not flat out, 65-70% power, cut a full hour of Piper time for the same route.

14 June 2004: RHV
Weather: Ceiling 12,000, 10, wind 290 @ 18 Duration:1.0 Landings:1 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H

Gotta get my 10 solo so I can carry Pax, more hours. 4.1 down.....

12 June 2004: RHV - Lampson Field- Ukiah-Willits-Shelter Cove-Murry Feild-Red Bluff-Redding, Sacramento Exec, Lampson, RHV, CA RHV-1O2 -UKI-0Q5-EKA-RBL-RDD-SAC-1O2-RHV
Weather: Ceiling 12,000, 10, wind 330 @ 18 Duration:7.5,Landings:11Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Time to finish my transition training. And yes, that is 9 airfields and seven and a half hours on the books for today. Lots o' Flying

Up early, quick flight to Lampson, pick up Bob King (my transition instructor) and back into the air. Emergency procedures first, review and do. Simulate manually lowering the gear, don't need that exercise today.

Now time to get the feel for the airplane at many different airfields. So we went to 7 new (for me) airfields and did landings. Most interesting in Willits, a ridge top airfield with an upslope. Had lunch at Red Bluff, then on back. Not many details since it's pretty much just fly/land/fly. Sorry.

5 June 2004: Lampson Field- South Lake Tahoe, CA 1O2 TVL-1O2-RHV
Weather: Ceiling 20,000, 10, wind 330 @ 18 Duration:5.6 Landings:8 Aircraft:Mooney M20K 231 N3636H
Airplane ready! Hitched a ride up to Lampson (that's why there is no RHV-1O2 segment) riding safety pilot for someone wanting to do some IFR refresher.

Got to Lampson, and there's my baby, looking very pretty in the sun, all clean and waxed! Popped open the door, checked on all the new avionics, walked around. My transition instructor arrives from across the field, and we go to work.

Basic overview of the cockpit, then down to the important stuff. This is how you start a turbo Mooney, son, don't believe the war stories, it's easy. Taxied over to the fuel pump, I'm getting used to the ground feel. Fill it up, a little bit of a pain, the anit-syphon flappers in the filler neck, while a great safety idea (if your fuel cap departs the airplane, your remaining fuel won't exit also). Going to have to practice that to get the tanks really full.

Heat her up again, take the active, and off we go! Smooth liftoff, retract gear (now I'm officially a Cool Guy), flaps, and fly. Two landings at Lampson to get the feel, and it's all about speed control. Drop it to 80 knots and less over the fence and she will get down. As usual, I flared too high but now that I have a machine of my own to get good in we'll fix that.

None of the things I was worried about were any concern. This is an amazingly stable flight platform, responsive but not jumpy. Main thing I learned fast was ride that trim switch, you can do a lot with it to keep the airplane smooth.

Quick climb to 9,500, do some air work. Steep turns left and right, little heavy to roll into (which is fine with me), takes longer than in a Piper for altitude to start to decay.

Back level, now stalls. What stall? I mean, seriously folks. The Pipers are described as the gentlest stalling aircraft, but I now have to put the Mooney ahead of them. You really have to convince the Mooney to stall to start with, then one it does stall, if you do anything right in stall recovery (drop the nose an inch, give it a little power) it pops right out of the stall. Even a nice power on climbing turn stall was a non-event.

I'll do a more complete flight review in 20 more hours or so, look for it.

OK, we're up in the air. May as well go somewhere. Off to South Lake Tahoe, lets see how this thing lands and takes off at altitude. On the way got familiar with the Garmin 530. Comm radio-wise it's a very clear, strong radio. Nav coupling to the autopilot make flying pretty danged automatic, though next year I might upgrade to an S-TEC autopilot, the 1980 King is showing it's age. But it works fine.

Over the Lake, and start the descent into Tahoe. Pop out the speed brakes, and ride it down with lots of power on to maintain control and keep those cylinder heads as warm as they want to be. OK landing at Tahoe, have lunch. Takeoff, very smooth, turn out over the lake and back to Lampson. Few more landings, then shut down, do some paperwork. High Performance cert. Complex cert. 4.5 hours of dual towards the 10 the insurance company wants me to have before I carry passengers.

Back to the airplane. Bob asks me if I want him to stay and help start the thing, since it's in the worst starting config for an injected turbo, 20 minutes of heat-soaking after a long flight. "Heck no, I say, you taught me right Bob. If I can't get it started it'll be my penance to walk across the field to your hanger". Well, he did teach me right, started it in 10 seconds on the first spin.

Fly back to Reid-Hillview averaging about 150 knots groundspeed, a 30 minute shorter trip than in the Archer. You'll note, by the way, that I haven't mentioned fueling. Didn't. So I left Lampson after flying, with 7 landings, about 4.5 hours. Over Scaggs Island VOR the right tank Fuel Low warning light comes on, and I switch over to the left, which is showing 12 gallons both on the electric gauge and the wing gauge I can see out the wind. Just perfect, still have an hour in that tank and 20 minutes in the low tank.

Tune in the RHV ATIS. Wind 330 @ 18 knots. Dang it, slight crosswind strong for my first RHV landing in the beast. Flew it on in, nice enough landing. Parked it at Transient.

I'm a happy buyer!

29 May 2004 Reid-Hillview-Tracey, CA RHV-TCY
Weather: Ceiling 20,000, 10, wind 320-290 @ 7 Duration:1.4Landings:3Aircraft: PA28-181 N26024
My Mooney up at Lakeport is waiting for the last nav radio to be put in. I had hoped it would be ready today, so reserved an airplane. No, so just fly some. Out over Calaveras, since both Moffit and Watsonville have air shows this weekend and don't want to get into that mess. Flew up to Byron, but there were too many folks for an uncontrolled field for comfort, turned south and went to Tracey. Two landings there, first one I was too high on flair and dropped a little, second one was fine. Back over to Reid, dodging not one, but two Baron twins on the way.

22 May 2004 Reid-Hillview CA RHV
Weather: Ceiling 2,100, 16, wind 320-290 @ 10 Duration:1.1 Landings:7 Aircraft: PA28-181 N26024
My Mooney is still a mess of wires up at Lakeport, so needed some airtime. Stayed in the pattern, 2 first landings a little flat then started getting the nose where it should be. Lots of folks in the pattern, and since the ceiling was low a few folks overflying. Uneventful, only one giggle. Guy pops out of the clouds at what he thinks is 3 miles from the airport on the GPS approach, tower lets him know he completely missed the airport, about 2 miles to the north. How can you miss with GPS, darlin?

5 May 2004 Reid-Hillview CA RHV
Weather: Ceiling 20,000, 16, wind 320 @ 10 Duration:1.1 Landings:3 Aircraft: PA28-181 N26024
TIme to get night current. Got to the airport, preflighted, turned on the mixmaster, got the ATIS, called for taxi clearance. Arrrrg, PushToTalk switch on the pilot yoke not working. PTT switch not installed on passenger yoke. Goodie, get to do take offs and landings with the handmike. Taxi, take off, turn downwind, want to fly a little and do my landings down at South County (q99). Fly the 13 minutes to SC. Get on the 45, key the mic to turn on the lights. Downwind, key the mic 5 times. Base, key the mic. FInal, key the mic. Damned runway lights won't come on, the PTT switch is busted and the handheld keying isn't getting the lights on. Go around, fly back up to RHV to do the landings. Pretty good, I'm still misjudging the distance above the runway at night, coming in a little high on flare. By the third landing I had it right again and greased. Parked.

24 April 2004 Madera Airport, CA
Weather:Ceiling 20,000, 12 degrees, wind light and var Duration:2.3 Landings: 2 Aircraft:PA28-181 N4313G
Time to fly a little, still building up my 50 cross-country hours for IFR Flew out to Madera, hadn't been there before. No winds aloft, dead reckoning took me right to the spot without nav error. I'm still not planning my top of decent far enough out, I was 3,000 feet above pattern altitude 8 miles from the field, and did two slow descending turns to get down. There was a mild crosswind at Madera (4-6 knots 70-90 degrees to the runway) and there was a woman student soloing who was having a heck of a time, went around a few times, gave way to another pilot saying "I just want to get on the ground!" She finally did, and broadcast "Thank God!" to the CTAF, poor thing. Landing was OK, crosswind pushed me further to the right of centerline than I wanted. Stopped the engine and stretched my legs, watched the skydivers land. Once they were down, back in the air to RHV. Been reading "Stick and Rudder", and worked on honing my skills the way Langewiesche recommends, including a steep turn on the way. Back to reid, straight in to 31L, nice landing, park and home.

4 April 2004 Lampson Field, Lakeport, CA
RHV - LVK - SGD - 1O2

Weather: Ceiling 20+, 12 degrees, 8 knots from the north. Duration: 2.9 Landings: 2 Aircraft:PA28-181 N4313G
After the trip two weeks ago to Arizona, it became evident that a faster airplane was something to be had. So we flew up to Lake Aero Styling and Repair, one of (if not the) largest Mooney service and sales shops.to start getting serious about picking up a used Mooney (read about the purchasing decision and process here).
Left Reid-Hillview just ahead of the crowd of people realizing that it was a calm sunny day. Out over Calaveras to Livermore, then Scaggs Island VOR, then north. 6,500 feet, very calm and clear. Up into the hills, Lake Baressa on the right, then turn, align your tail with the river flowing into Baressa and fly up the valley to Clear Lake.
The airport is about 2 miles south of the lakeshore, and close to the western hills.
Lampson Field is a classic disappearing airport. At 3,200 feet I could spot it, one asphalt strip with a cluster of buildings at the 28 threshold end. Drop down to pattern altitude, A/FD says 2100 feet (800 ft agl), AOPA and AirNav say 2300 ft (1000 ft agl). When in doubt, go with the A/FD, the FAA will be more interested in you following their pubs. Down on the 45, and dammit the airport disappeared. Very very hard to re-a quire, my recommendation is for you to look for the cluster of buildings and hangars, do not try and focus on the runway itself. Another airplane was taking off, I happened to see him about 400 ft off the runway and that allowed me to re-aquire.
Downwind and final, nice approach and landing. The runway has been resurfaced recently, and is very smooth. Be aware that it's only 60 ft wide, so if you're used to broader runways watch out for the edges. Had about a 8 knot crosswind directly perpendicular to the runway, but smooth anyway.
Visited LASAR, talked Mooneys, looked at two (more to come on that I'm sure).
Time to leave, wind is now straight down 28 at about 7 knots. Prepare for a short field to clear the hills at the end, nice takeoff, slight right turn to keep the terrain low, then climb out over Clear Lake and back home. At 2 pm after a bright, warm, sunny day there was a reasonable amount of chop between the two lakes.
One surprise: Half-way between Clear Lake and Lake Baressa, encountered two sailplanes in our flight path at almost the same altitude, 7,500. I was not expecting that. My partner noticed a small field below us where the gliders where being towed from, it is the very small private field you marked on the SF chart. However, there is no graphic indication to be alert for sailplanes. So be alert for sailplanes! (I've written to the faa for chart emendation)

19 March 2004 22 March 2004 Scottsdale, Arizona to and back
Spring Training!


Weather:For both flights, unseasonably warm, unseasonably clear and calm Duration:12.2 Landings: 4 Aircraft:PA28-181 N26024

This is a long entry cuz it was a long trip!
Baseball! Spring training, I try to go down to see a weekend of Giants new talent every year. For this year's trip decided to fly down ourselves. Long trip over 3 major weather areas, in the middle of March, what the heck was I thinking, a miracle would happen? Well heck, it did. Weather forecasts were for clear flying all 700 miles of the route, clear and warm. Well, that was the Friday weather, I still had to have faith in Monday for the return trip.

Very careful packing. My partner had to be in Boise on Monday so she brought two suitcases, one for Arizona and one to carry on Southwest for the week ahead in Boise. Total of 120 pounds of baggage, sat the bigger of her two bags in the rear passenger position (belted and bungied in) to have great balance, total 2410 pounds, heavier than I've picked an Archer up at (though well under gross).
Hour late getting to Reid, then another 1/2 hour trying to get some fueler to come by an top us off. Chevron wouldn't answer, and Exxon was filling up two prior calls. Needed the extra hour of fuel, guys! Finally fueled, got started. At least the winds were dead calm so we took of from 13 instead of 31, gave me back 3 minutes of the time I had lost by not having to do a crosswind and base leg.
To give my partner some interesting scenery to look at I had planned down the coastline and across the LA basin instead of down the Central Valley of California. Taking the coast was only about 40 miles longer. First leg of the trip was from Reid to Banning, on the east side of the LA basin, 350 some air miles.

Down the coast was fine. PIcked up VFR traffic advisories (YOU find where the FARs or AIM define flight following. They don't. it's VFR traffic advisories) over Salinas at my eastbound cruise of 9,500, maintained coverage all the way to Banning.

Fun to listen to the liars in airplanes on the way down. San Luis Obisbo was fogged in. Some guy calls Center "Can I get IFR out of here then VFR on top?" Center tells him "It will be quite a while, I'm handling a lot of traffic." Five minute pause. New call "when will you get us out?" Center "Can't tell you for certain, standby". Five more minutes "Hey, can you get us SVFR?" "No". Five more minutes "Hey Center, the ceiling lifted, we can get out VFR" Center" Why are you telling me?".
Obviously (to me) this guy was just going to punch through the clouds under positive coverage or not, and was trying to get the controller to tacitly approve. Sheesh.
Down to the Camarillo VOR, then inland. Planned to cross the top of the LA basin, LA TAC shows that to be the recommended VFR flyway over 5,000/6,500 ft. Very easy passage over LA, though it was nice to be getting traffic advisories. Having traffic calls let me know ahead of time when a 737 out of Ontario crossed my path within waving distance of the crew and pax.
3.5 hours into the flight, and near the desert. Planned fuel stop at Banning. Banning is a very nice airport for being the edge of the desert. Very broad, long runway. Somewhat weedy, and the taxiways are all-over weeds, but I spent 5 years at Edwards and taxing airplanes over tumbleweeds is fine.
Banning is difficult to see coming in from the west. Far side of town, and all your looking for is a wide long lighter patch. Don't look for many buildings, towers, or markings on the runway, just look past the small town and that pale gray rectangle is the airfield.
Very nice gentleman came out to fuel us. Sat for 1/2 hour, smoked a pipe and made sure we were all bathroomed-out before hopping back in.
Took off, into the desert. Picked up traffic advisories from Palm Springs approach, did not want to cross the desert without someone watching at least a little. Again, up to 9,500.
And drone drone drone. Pretty much a straight line to Blythe, then a dead straight line from the Blythe VOR to the Buckeye VOR outside of Phoenix. 99 miles. Nothing to see on the ground but dust and rocks. BTW, about 1/2 across the desert I realized that we had stayed longer at Banning than I had planned, so I called FSS and extended my flight plan by 1/2 hour. Next time I do this I'm not going to do it in a Piper maxing out at 110 knots.
Whew, over that vast expanse o' nothing, into Phoenix. Luke approach picked us up, dropped me down to 4,500. Of course, listened to Luke approach tell someone (repeatedly) "No, you cannot get clearance to land at Luke. It's a military base, official business only! No!". Could only hear one side of the call, so don't know what the weasel was trying to do. Then over Deer Valley and under the Class B (bout a 1,000 corridor) first call to Scottsdale airfield.
Scottsdale handles a great many props and a great many corporate jets, so the controllers have challenging sequencing jobs. The controller on my initial call said "report 4 miles from the field (effective edge of Class D), expect to orbit". OK. Called at 4 miles. The response, very quickly "Expect delays. Citation on final at 3 miles can you speed up. 024 turn immediate left midfield downwind" so we were going in. go to the far edge of the runways and tower asks "024 can you do a short approach?" Fine with me "024 short approach affirmative" "024 clear to land 3" "024 clear to land". I turn in short, and the controller puts a Citation Pos & Hold under me and tells the Citation on final to do S-turns. I land (a very nice landing, I have to say), tower says very quickly "024 do not acknowledge turn left at nearest taxiway Citation XXXX cleared for take off Citation XXXX clear to land". Whew. I scooted off at A-5. Went to ground and asked for transit parking. "Straight ahead" says ground. Sorry, I'm dense today "Can you give me taxi instructions" "Straight ahead!". OK, I start taxiing straight ahead. That's when the little golf cart from Corporate Jets, the FBO for that side of the runway shows up in front of me with a lineman to guide me to the parking spot. Very very thoughtful outfit (Lineman even helped me push back!). My rental car was through Corporate Jets also, and they drove out to the plane for me to take the car, so I could just unload from the plane and into the car, no schlepping. 6.4 flight hours from RVH to SDL.

Off to the hotel, days of fun, but no flying.

Back to Scottsdale Monday morning. Corporate Jets has a nice planning room, 4 working, fast, computers for DUATS. In general, and I mean this, Corporate Jets treats a raggedy old Piper pilot as well as a Gulfstream pilot, I would highly recommend them. Full tanks, weather is amazingly holding out over my whole route again (is this really March?). Go out, preflight, pack (easier, one less 50 pound bag and one less <censored> pound passenger). Call Clearance Delivery on my portable radio, like yer supposed to. "Oh, we can't give any clearances for VFR traffic, just call ground when you're ready to taxi". Publish that then, don't publish that all traffic needs to call Clearance. Started the motor, called Ground, taxied to the end. Cleared to go, go.

Crossed the boundary of the Class D, called Phoenix radio to open my flight plan. They're pissed because I called Phoenix Radio instead of Prescott Radio. Yeah, well, I knew you'd answer and I forgot if it was Phoenix or Prescott. Opened my flight plan. Switched over to Phoenix Approach (no, not Prescott approach smarty) for traffic advisories. "Fly heading 260, climb and maintain 6,000, squawk 7301". Uh, OK, I wasn't asking for clearance through the Class Baker (and was 3,000 feet below it) but if that makes everyone's life easier, then great. 5 minutes later "Clear of Class Bravo, own navigation, contact Luke approach".

Same flight plan on the trip back (why fix what ain't......). Though after I hit the Buckeye VOR and got lined up on Blythe Alb. Center did ask "November 26024, you are heading to Demming, New Mexico, aren't you?" "024, No sir, Banning Baker Nancy Golf, Banning California" "Ah, ok, thanks." Demming, Banning, I can understand the mistake. And seeing someone going due west when easterly might be nice would concern you.

Crank it up to 10,500, and drone through the sky. Nothing really even interesting on the radio, normal professional smoothness. Cross over Palm Springs, time to land at Banning for fuel again (really, use it as a fuel stop). Palm Springs Approach would not let me go. I'm down to 4,000 and 3 miles from Banning when I finally just tell the controller I'm going over to Banning's CTAF, thanks for your help. he says thanks and out.

Wind is howling at Banning this time, 18 knots gusting to 24. Hah! But right straight down Runway 26. Only thing it meant was I had to keep power in all the way to the ground, and only two notches of flaps. Get fuel, call in for updated weather. Talk to a nice group of four with a new Piper who were sitting on the ground at Banning waiting for the fog to break in San Diego.

Take off, contact SoCal approach, once again pick up traffic advisories (born lucky, I heard others being rejected because the controllers were too busy). Again, up to 10,500, over the top of the LA basin, and up the coast. Everybody wants/expects me to go Palmdale-Fresno RHV. Jeez, no no no. "SoCal Approach,024, I'm headed to the Camarillo VOR then up the coast". OK, they don't know that I spent many years in Lancaster, Rosamond, and Edwards and staying away from the High Desert now is high on my list.Coast is much prettier, and as I said earlier is only about 15-30 minutes longer.

Camarillo, Santa Maria (constant controller warning here "November XXX, restricted area XXX is HOT, you're getting too close". Spent two years at Vandenberg, I know you don't want to get in front of their high-power Radar facilities when they're blasting out power), San Luis, Paso Robles, then into the Silicon Valley. Holey Toledo, is this LA? Start descending, and into muck. ATIS from Reid says vis is 10 miles, but ewwww it's ten miles in some of the worst smog I've seen up here.

Landed (not a landing to write home about, a little bit bouncy), parked it. 5.8 air hours back.

Very good trip. And I do want to say, every controller (center and approach) was great, and most of them seemed like they were actuality enjoying their work. Pleasure to work with.

7 March 2004 Sonoma County Airfield


Weather:Ceiling unlimited ,10 miles vis,winds light & var, 12c Duration:2.2 Landings: 2 Aircraft:PA28-181 N6413C
Wine cellar looking a little empty. Sky looking perfect. Quick flight up to Sonoma to visit some wineries. Some moderate turbulence about 5 miles south of Concord airfield, more that usual.
Only real discussion point on the way up was my partner insisting that the airfield I was descending into was not Sonoma. You can see runway 14 clearly, but she could not see the diverging 19, and swore it didn't match the AOPA diagram so it wasn't right. So be prepared, if you're coming from the southerly direction you may not be able to see the slant runway (though I could)
Only other interesting thing was traffic pattern. My 3 airport references indicated that usually I would be directed to left traffic to 14/19. When I was about 8 miles out I heard someone getting that guidance. Imagine my surprise when the tower gave me "Report 3 miles on the right downwind for 14". Huh? Called to confirm "right traffic" since he had just sent someone in on the left, AND because I was hearing some occasional activity on 19, which would be right under right traffic for 14. Tower confirmed right, but asked me if I'd prefer left for 14. "No thank you tower, right is fine, was just confirming". More laid back up here than in San Jose, I guess.
Easy landing (long, wide runway) taxi to transit. Note: there are no facility signs indicating where transit is. Look on a taxi map, download one from the AOPA site. Rented car from Avis, drove around to 1,093,789 winery's so my partner could taste wine.
Back to the airport, load 65 pounds of wine in the Piper luggage bay. Back up and out, an easy hour back to RHV.

21 February 2004


Weather:Ceiling 4,000,10 miles vis, South winds 3 knots, 14c Duration:1.1 Landings: 3 Aircraft:PA28-181 N26024
Quick flight, down to South County in a light rain, couple of landings, one go-round, back to RHV


7 February 2004 Mendocino - Little River Airfield

KRHV -SUNOL-KCCR-SGD- Dillon Beach - AMAKR - O48

Weather:Ceiling unlimited ,10 miles vis, North winds 10-20 knots, 10c Duration:3.6 Landings: 2 Aircraft:PA28-181 N26024
Reserved an airplane, hoping for a nice day. Nice Day. Took off at 10:30, flew north around SF Bravo, turned coastward at Scaggs Island. 70 miles up the coast, easy-to-spot Little river airfield. Windsock standing straight out perpendicular to the filed, crosswind landing with a bump, but OK.
Shuttle to Mendocino is $5, picks you up from town at the top of the hour. Went in to town for an hour (which, unless you're going to have lunch or dinner, is about the right amount of time for Mendocino). Flew back to RHV.
Very clear, very smooth, all the way along.

25 January 2004 KRHV -SUNOL-KCCR-SGD-BESSA-O08 Colusa Airfield

Weather:Ceiling unlimited ,20 miles vis, North winds 15-20 knots, 9c Duration:2.9 Landings: 2 Aircraft:PA28-181 N6413C
Had great hopes last night that the weather would break (been cloudy all week) and it did! Got out to the airfield, line of clouds to the south but nothing north.
Good, since I had planned a flight north! Took off from Reid, headed to the SUNOL intersection, this flight
I planned to hit mostly navaids. Only challenge was the airplane's second nav/comm was a big empty space (do the FAR require a inop sticker over a hole in the panel? Hmmmmm), so I only had one VOR to use at a time. Lots of switching back and forth. Hit SUNOL about 1/2 mile to the west, not too bad. Then visual up to Buchanan airport (or concord, but the chart says Buchanan, dammit), turned out towards Scaggs island. Flew straight inbound to the VOR, watching for traffic out of Napa. Then northerly to BESSA, and intersection right off Lake Baryessa. Up at 6,500 to keep clear of the mountains, next time I might pick 8,500 for a little more padding. Past BESSA, direct to the Williams VOR. Nice visual checkpoint is the town of Arbuckle, easy to spot clump of buildings in the mids of lots of fields. Had Colusa in sight at that time, descended for landing. By the way, and a little complaining: Colusa and lots of other airports up her in NorCal use 122.8 for CTAF. REMEMBER THAT! Please don't be chatting on that frequency, there were so many stepped on transmissions it was annoying. No-one at Colusa, greased a perfect landing with a 16 knot wind right down runway 31.
Taxiing to the fuel tank, nice ole lady came out to turn the pump on and help me fuel. Also confirmed with her, it is pronounced Kooo-loose-a. Now you know.
If you're going north through the inland California valley I recommend this as a fuel stop, very easy to see, easy to land, un crowded.
Taxied back to the active, making all the polite radio calls. Called taxiing onto the active. Dammit a crop duster had already pulled onto the runway at an intersection halfway up the runway and was taking off. Them guys is nuts.
Back in the air and southbound. Climbed to 7.500 to pass over the mountains with more buffer near Lake Baryessa. Height quandary, I'm between 178-183, do I fly odd or even? Odd, and watch out. All nominal back to R-H, greased another landing, even parked it in the spot straight.

21 January 2004 KRHV - Q99 - KRHV

Weather:Ceiling unlimited ,20 miles vis, calm, 9c Duration:1.3Landings: 4 Aircraft:PA28-181 N6413C
Night currency flight. Reid-Hill was running reversed runways tonight (13 instead of our usual 31), don't know why. No wind, guess they just wanted to practice controlling folks backwards. Took off at 7:21, straight out departure for South County (since we were reversed), up to 3,500 for the trip. Beautiful clear night. Down to SC, overflew, windsock was favoring 32 (not moving, but the last wisp of wind had pointed it that way) so I did the normal right pattern 32. 3 landings at SC, none of which I'd like to be evaluated on, please. That last 20 feet is so much harder to gauge at night, I was a floater tonight. Took off again, wanted to fly some more, flew south some more. Turned around, back to Reid. Only challenge on that side of things is pattern entry for 13L at night, you're aimed at the hills as you're dropping down to 1,100 ft, and the don't have many lighted features to pick up. But fine. Current for another 90 days of passengers at night.

18 January 2004 KRHV

Weather:Ceiling 1200 scattered, 11,000 broken, 3 miles vis, calm,54 f, -5 at 5,500 Duration:1.0 Landings: 8 Aircraft:PA28-181 N6413C
Two weeks of stinky weather, time to do a little something. Flight planned to King City(KKIC), backup plan to South County(Q99), reality stay at Reid-Hillview. Very misty, could barely make out San Jose from the pattern at RHV. 8 TO/Landings. Two soft fields, my least proficient takeoff. First soft field was, urrrr, kinda a regular takeoff, skimming the runway at 300 feet doesn't really make a soft field. Tried again, second attempt was very nice. 7 landings just great, one was a little bit of a floater.

4 January 2004 KRHV -KLVK- O27- KLSN- 1C9- KRHV
Ceiling 20,000 clear, calm.Cold, -5 at 5,500 Duration:.2,2 Landings: 2 Aircraft:PA28-181 N6413C
Been a few weeks, time to fly. Chose to take a round-robin of the inland valley south of Sacramento, give my partner her first look at the area from the air, take a look at the snow on the Sierras, and cruise around building X-country time.
Get to the airport, out to the airplane. Dammit what's this junk? Frost on the danged airplane windshield????? I thought we paid such high taxes here in California to keep way from this frost stuff???? Scrape scrape.
Took off at 1030 pst, climb out over Calaveris Res, headed for Livermore. Weather on DUATS had given synopses for all of CA as VFR, but when I called Oakland Radio to open my flight plan the ATC tech said It's been IFR in the inland valley, but satcom shows nothing now. What? I guess it was IFR sometime in November, too, but don't care right now. Thanked him anyway. 40 minutes out to Oakdale for the mandatory 1st bio break, clear and smooth all the way.
Oakdale The incredible disappearing airport. I had the airport in sight 10 miles out, and circled to lose 2,000 ft. Why so much altitude? Well, I didn't have a good TOD checkpoint, so I started my decent when I saw the airport 6 miles ahead. Also dang the cold air makes the airplane go good, I was clipping along at 128 knots groundspeed. And dammit if Oakdale didn't disappear. This has happened to me before here, I don't know what it is. The dark black runway really stands out, but I lose it anyway. Circled again, picked it up again. OK landing, little hop. I don't much like Oakdale's runway, it has a significant hump in the middle that throws me off. Taxied to get fuel and something warm to drink for my partner (she was getting chilly). Two FBOs in the middle closed, dang it. Started up again and taxied to the self-service pump (large white tank at the far end of the ramp area, near the 28 runup). Put in 8 gallons, fuel calcs seem right.
Taxi on to 28. Looked at that stupid hump in the middle of the runway and decided to do a short field, got the wheels up right before the crest of the hump.
TUrned almost due south, flying down to Los Banos. Flight plan open, FSS would love Pireps, well yeah, I'd love to give you one but the weather reports seem to be identical to reality, so you got it right. Overflew Los Banos without landing, my partner wants to keep it in the air, needs to be in Santa Cruz at about 2:30. Turned West, climbed up to 6,500 to cross the hills. Over Fraser Lake turned north and began to slowly descend.Beautiful landing at Reid-Hillview.

17 December 2003 KRHV - KWVI - KRHV Happy 100th!

Weather:Ceiling 15,000 clear, calm. Duration:.1.1 Landings: 2 Aircraft:PA28-181 N6413C
100th anniversary of powered flight. Skipped the first 2 hours of work and had my own commemorative flight, out to Watsonville and back.

29 November 2003 KRHV - KKIC - KRHV Gotta fly
Weather:Ceiling 8,000 broken, calm. Duration:.1.9 Landings: 2 Aircraft:PA28-181 N4313G
Wanted to fly up to Mendicino. Nope, clouds and rain. Santa Maria? Nope, clouds and rain. OK, flew down to King City. Nothing to report.

25 November 2003 KRHV - Q99 - KRHV Currency
Weather:Ceiling 17,000 scattered, calm. Duration:.1.3 Landings: 3 Aircraft:PA28-181 N26024
Haven't flown in a bit. Flew down to South County (Q99) did a couple of landings. Did some steep turns. Back to Reid.

13 November 2003 KRHV - 3O7 - KRHV Cirrus test flight
Weather:Ceiling 12,000 scattered, calm. Duration:.1.0 Landings: 2 Aircraft:Cirrus SR-22
OK, so yeah, I wanna buy an airplane. And maybe I want to take out a house-sized mortgage and buy a new Cirrus. Or not. But I sure do want to fly one to be sure I'm interested.
I'm interested
If you have a chance, test-fly one of these. Of course, if you test-fly one, you'll want to buy it. Flew an hour out of Reid, one landing at Hollister. Very fast, very precise handling machine. Push the side stick to where you want the airplane, it goes there and stays. Clips along at 155 knots at 74%, the all-glass display showing you not just your standard instruments, but the direction and speed of the wind you're flying in. Engine leaning means flip over to a huge graphic display that makes it dead simple and accurate. The TCAS system, audibly announcing traffic, I found less than useful, though. In our environment around RHV there are lots of planes around, and the TCAS warnings tended to step on each other with multiple spottings, and you might be looking at what you think it's taking about when in fact there is an airplane closer in and more of a factor for you.
Another real quirk of the Cirrus when you first fly one is the perceived angle of attack. You have a much greater view downward in the Cirrus than most other aircraft, the front windshield lets you see much more below eye level than you're used to. What this translates into is over-pitching on climb, and definite nose-too-high on landing.
When I took it in to Hollister and let the sales pilot fly the last bit of the landing it really really felt like we were going to land on the nose wheel. But no, just happens that I can see more down, so it feels like the nose is at a steeper angle, isn't. Back to Reid. Maybe I'll buy one.

2 November 2003 KRHV - O61 - KRHV To Cameron Park for a family visit

Weather:Ceiling 6,000, clear under thick ceiling, calm. Duration:.2.3 Landings: 2 Aircraft:PA28-181 N26024
Route:RHV - KLVK - Q53 - O61
Flew up to Cameron Park airpark to see family.
Cameron Park is an airfield serving a community with taxi-wide streets and hangars attached to every house, I always wanted to go up there, see if it might be a place we would want to retire at. One of Karen's cousins lives nearby.
The weather was overcast all day, with reports of lower ceilings and rain moving in from the north late in the afternoon. But a 4,500 and 5,500 altitude flight looked good when we got to the airport at 10, so we decided to try. Made it very clear that we'd turn around if anything got bad.
The outbound flight was seamless. The thick cloud layer held steady at about 6,400 ft, so we were well under it in very smooth air all the way along. The only comment I have is about one of the checkpoints, Franklin. Some may say this airfield exists, I ain't seen it. We looked hard, too. Navigation said we were near it. GPS said we were right over it. Damned if I could see it, either on the outbound or inbound flight. Fortunately there are some transmission towers right nearby where Franklin should be, easy to see (be high to avoid them), and Mather airfield can also be seen. Straight on to Cameron Park, which is easy to see.
Cameron Park is a quirky airfield. It is in a valley bowl, which means a few things. First, there are hills with houses at either end of the airstrip. Second, the threshold of 31 is displaced about 1,000 feet. Third, the airstrip dips in the middle, so you're landing downhill/taking off uphill for some portion.
I had read about all this before flying in, and was a little concerned. But the actual landing was really simple.
Landing on 31, you aim at the runway side of the hill, and turn a nice final right over the hill, descending along the slope of the hill. You're a little steeper than usual, and that allows you to aim at the arrows on the displacement, then right on down. I did not notice the runway dip on landing.
Transit parking is tiny, space for 4 airplanes packed tight, and it looked like the other 3 were permanent, not transit. They are working on expanding the asphalt.
And once again, I'm supposed to pay somebody for transit parking, but can't find a soul. Get picked up by relatives, have lunch. All the while worrying about whether the clouds are getting lower or not . Ended up staying just an hour and a half, I really didn't want to get socked in.
Takeoff was more affected by the runway than landing. I taxied to the end of 31, looked at the dip, and said "Lets get off the ground fast", so a Vx takeoff was in order. 25 degrees of flaps, full power, brake release. Off the runway well, but dang the hill at the end of the runway approaches fast. Flew over it with at least 400 ft. to spare, but you really want to take off short field at this place.
Solid overcast (the ceiling had not dropped) again all the way home, nice and smooth.

19 October 2003 KRHV - KPRB - KRHV Down to Paso Robles for the Justin Winery annual party

Weather:Ceiling 7,000, some fog, calm. Duration:.3.0 Landings: 2 Aircraft:PA28-181 N26024
Route:RHV - RANCK - Soledad - KKIC - KPRB
My partner really likes Justin wine, and this weekend is their annual party, also the chance to pick up your Justin Reserve wine for the year.
Excellent opportunity for our first cross-country together.
Planned the flight, intended to go from the Silicon Valley over to Salinas airport, then follow 101 south. Checked the Notams. Oops! Air show at Salinas, TFR! No traffic below 15,000. OK, what else? Decided on the VOR intersection RANCK, this would position us well for a westbound turn out to 101.
Took the Garmin 196 along for Karen to be assistant navigator with (in other words, hold the thing and point the screen at me when I ask hehehe).
Normal takeoff and climbout. Down south to Frasier Lake, then dial in the VORs for RANCK.
Hmmmmmm. Fog and mist ahead, wasn't in the weather briefing because it's in this inland valley. How's our vis? Starting to get smaller, probably 7 miles, roughly 5 miles from the nav fix.
Look right. Yes, I can see Soledad and Hwy 101 already, turned west before hitting RANCK.
Down the valley, next fix King City. Or as I like to call it, the airport that's closer than I think. Every time I fly down by KKIC I am surprised when it's 3 miles in front of me, not 7.
On to Paso Robles.
Paso Robles shows up right where it should be (be careful of the restricted area to the west when coming down from the north). Very very visible, the transition from low rolling hills to the flatlands that a large airport can sit on makes finding KPRB very easy. Gee Whiz, runway 1 is 6,000 feet long! I can land 3 times! No traffic, land and taxi forever to transit.
Park, tie it down, then go to the FBO on the south side of the terminal. Enterprise rental car dropped a car off for me there (easy! just call, they're used to it). No-one in the FBO, except the cat which I gave the proper worship to. Looked on the desk, there's my contract and keys. Signed and initialed what I figured was the right number of places, then went out to the car. Went to Justin, but that's not a flying story so I'll leave that out (except to say no, I didn't even taste any wine, I'm not silly).
Paso Robles is a very nice field, and they have a very nice, brand new, multi-million dollar terminal.But Why? They have minimal, short hop only, commercial flights. Nice pilots lounge, phones, pretty good overall BTW, the references say their is a transit fee if you park longer than 3 hours. Well spank me for a loser, I'd love to help you people out but I couldn't for the life of me figure out who to pay. Happy to do so, but can't pay who you don't see.
Back to the airport about 3:30. Drove the rental car out to the airplane because we had 35 pounds (yes, I weighed it and re-WB'd) of wine to put in the baggage compartment, bungee all the wine boxes down. Get in, file a flight plan 1-800-WX-BRIEF.

Take off from 1, gentle climbout aiming towards KKIC. Call FSS to open the flight plan. Dang it 1-800-WXBRIEF had connected us to Oakland FSS, not Hayward, so the local radio had not seen our plan yet. He excused himself, called Oakland, and called back saying everything was fine. Flew the plan, headed inbound to RANCK without deviation this time. Other traffic (altitude indicated IFR) intercepted RANCK at the same time as us, always remember, if it looks like a good checkpoint to you it looks like a good checkpoint to lots of people. Straight in to Reid-Hillview.


15 October 2003 KRHV Night currency.
Clear and calm. Duration:.8 Landings: 6 night Aircraft:PA28-181 N26024
Not current on nights. Don't want to fly x-country with a passenger without being night current, so went out and did my night landing thing. Very very nice night, the airplane really wanted to fly, hard not to just exit the pattern and go flying. But I was hungry, so landed and went to eat.

11 October 2003 KRHV - KWVI - KRHV RHV to Watsonville.
Clear and calm, unlimited ceiling. Duration: 1.3 Landings: 2 Aircraft:PA28-181 N4313G
Karen Familiarization Flight. My first flight as a private, took my partner Karen up for a quick flight to get her back into a small airplane cockpit. She flew with her father in his Baron as a child, so there wasn't any trepidation. Just thought it was a good idea to go for a short flight and through some maneuvers to get her used to me at the controls. Also, since she's going to be my second pair of eyes and part time navigator, wanted to practice identifying airports and other landmarks from the air.
Normal takeoff from RHV, downwind departure. Flew 120 down to Fraiser Lake at 5,500. I like using Fraiser Lake as a VFR checkpoint, the long water strip (it's a seaplane training strip) is very easy to see from the air. Turned west, up to 6,500 over the mountains, and over to Watsonville.
Watsonville is a superior airport for training, or for taking someone who's a little uneasy into a very smooth landing. Occasionally obscured by ocean fog.
Runway 20, the calm wind runway, is 4,500 feet long by 150 wide, so you have to be making huge mistakes to scare your passenger. Also has a nice taxi-up Mexican restaurant on the field.
One other airplane in the pattern, spiraled down to TPA and nice easy landing.
Karen's' only concern was seeing the runway on base. Left pattern, so when we were down to 700 ft. MSL she was looking ahead at nothing but trees and didn't know where the runway was. Taxied back to 20, took off. Eastbound aimed at Hollister. Waited until she was able to identify Hollister from the air, then back up to RHV for a nice landing.


8 October 2003 - Private Pilots Checkride This flight recorded in excruciating detail here.