Private Pilot Resources - Aviation Blog

I obtained my private pilot license in 2006. This site is dedicated to capturing little gems of knowlege I collected during training. Periodically I add items I find during research so that others might benefit from them. Please review the disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

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Location: San Jose, CA, United States

In 1999 a friend invited me to go flying and I was hooked. I live in the Bay Area about an hour south of San Francisco and fly out of Reid Hillview (KRHV). Please do get in touch and lets go fly!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

CRM - Cockpit Resource Management

Sunday's flight was once again a blast. We set up for a flight to King City (KIC) via Salinas (SNS) and diverted under the hood just before reaching Salinas to Watsonville (WVI). Once again the importance of CRM became clear in my training and so I thought I'd log a few more observations.

Even a sectional chart can become a nusance during flight. Mine always got in the way. Folding the map properly so it shows the general area of flight including some inches either side for diversion is generally a good practice that saves valuable time.

The radio frequency log I put together that lists all used frequencies in order of their use (as well as a few I might not use) once again sped up my radio and navigation work. So did the preprinted ATIS form I keep on the same sheet. The only refinement I will make is to not only log VOR frequencies, but also the radials I want to intercept. I had it on the flight plan, but this way I won't have to flip back and forth. Ultimately I'll probably merge the two into one piece of paper.

Check the volume on the radios (voice and NAV) prior to flight by pulling the squelch. Our COM1 barely registered with 3/4 of the volume up. I had to change radios to read ground until we had that figured out. It ended up readable cranked all the way up.

I was using a stop watch to track when to switch tanks. Would have been great had I had a place to actually mount the thing. Next time I'll slap a piece of velcro on the joke and stick it there. This time I tried just timing the tank change, but I think I'll go back to writing down the actual time of the next change as well so I can back it up with my wrist watch. I inadvertently stommed the times (because it wasn't mounted) and lost track of my time to change.

My watch wasn't tight on my wrist and had turned. I had to twist my arm in order to read the time while keeping one had on the joke during our diversion. Hard to write down time of heading change if I can't get to the bezzle of my watch. Next time I'll also synch my watch to that of my passenger. It makes for interesting and unnecessary conversation when two watches aren't showing the same time.

This time I had my short ruler ready. Much easier to use in flight than that wieldy big one and always accessible in my knee board.

Out of all this an idea is starting to develop for a CRM checklist prior to flight. Just to check that all the pieces are in place. Will have to think about that one.

After our laning in Watsonville we headed back to Reid Hillview. En route we were rewarded with a magnificent sunset. An end to yet another glorious outing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Federal Aviation Administration

Preparing for my flight to King City (KIC) this afternoon I found yet another good FAA resource. Posting it here for future reference.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Use Google Earth to visualize the flight

Especially as a beginning pilot it is easy to get lost. Features and landmarks look very different from the air and even from different altitudes. Last night I prepared for an upcoming flight to King City California from my home airport Reid Hillview. I found two great tools that allow me simulate my flight and get a picture of how my route and destination might look like from the air.

Google Earth ( is a free tool from Google that uses incredible satelite imagery to map every spot on the globe. It offers a very realistic view of how my approach to King City might look like. I also discovered features such as major landmarks that will be able to assist me in navigation. On my way from Reid Hillview (RHV) to King City (KIC) I'll pass a major mining operation. Great to know!! I was also able to preview alternate landing sites that I might have to find in case of any emergency. Some of them are small private strips, but because Google Earth labels all airports they were very easy to find.

The other tool is Microsoft Flight Simulator ( Here all depends on the maps you have loaded, speed of your PC and especially your graphics card. You can use flight simulator to actually fly your route. Again use the software to get feedback on your planning of checkpionts and waypoints as well as general terrain. What's really neat is that you can use actual weather to simulate flight conditions. Megascenery provides improved visual details for MS flight simulator via high resolution maps for select cities and areas.

A nice site to review information of the destination airport (aside from the airport facility directory that is to be checked in any case)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Aviation Acronyms

Acronyms are used throughout aviation. I've found that when I have to make quick decisions they are most helpful. However, they should be well balance with use of checklists. Each at its own time. For the longest time I had problems getting down an efficient emergency flow. After a particularly bad training scenario my instructor Jake Hauserman suggested using the acronym CarbSOFAST. Now I can whip through the flow and then get on to the checklist if enough time remains before the plane has to be on the ground. I practice these flows on my drive to and from work (usually when parked at a red light) which gets me curious glances from fellow commuters.

Engine Out Emergency

Carb - heat on
S - Speed berst glide
O - Outside: landing spot, wind direction
F - Fuel: pump on ; mixture rich ; primer locked
A - Air; This is the throttle. Envision the butterfly valve letting all the air in
S - Spark; check the magnetos and verify they are on both
T - Trim (for berst glide) , Transponder (set to 7700), Talk (declare and emergency)

This flow works particularly well in a Piper Archer. You start on the right, go to tanks on the left and then immeridately come back over to the right.

Also check out this site that has more of the same:

Here is a Word document to download that contains a fair number of acronymns.

Passenger Brief

During a Wings seminar last week the subject of passenger briefs was raised. Many of our seasoned pilots had wonderful suggestions on what should be included in a passenger brief. I soon found that short of writing these suggestions down I would forget much of it when I actually had to deliver the information to non pilots. The feedback also cautioned about giving too much or too apocalyptic a briefing lest we intend to scare passengers out of their minds. A web search for prewritten passenger briefings came up with a rather short list, which I am including here.

A great summary that one pilot provides to his passengers:

I have adapted my briefing from the above template with some additions from the below collection. Passengers flying with me are encouraged to read this briefing

A more generic (and shorter) passenger briefing card:

Suggestions for Canadian bush pilot passenger briefings:

Commercial briefing card of a Montana Charter Company

Civil Air Patrol passenger briefing card

Incorporated into the checklist for a Piper Archer:

Last, but not least, I got some great input from some veteran fliers to consider passenger comfort in the briefing. One of the guys had a novice passenger assume the white nuckle position when he slipped his plane on final. Somehow his guest hadn't anticipated that you can fly an airplane "sideways". Other passengers have their anxiety levels raised when we apply or reduce power. The point being, we owe it to our passengers to provide an explanation before we execute maneuvers that might feel second nature to us. That goes for pre-flight briefings as well as shorter briefings throughout the flight.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Practice at South Country (San Martin - E16) Airport

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Watsonville, CA in May 2005