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!!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Getting ready for stage 3 check

I'm in the final throws of getting ready for the checkride. Last weekend I spent some time with CFI Jake to go over my log book to mark off everything against the FAR's private pilot requirements. Over the past weeks I have been reading the practical test standard. Jake and I used the sectional to play through scenarios covering airspace.

This weekend we took to the skies again to put on the finishing touches. And what a ride it was. There is nothing more helpful in training to have your CFI introduce little surprises. After all I'd rather experience them with my CFI in the plane than later on my own. So when we practiced another engine out I thought ok, piece of cake, I'm ready for this. Oppps do you hear that noise? I think the door popped open. I think it's pushing out quite a bit. Then came the air. Papers on my kneeboard started flying and drag jumped up big time. I dropped the nose slightly to keep up speed, but it definitely took me longer to establish a proper glide and make decision on my approach pattern or run through the checklist. Definite distraction. I finally got in the groove and made a nice 45 entry and short approach to E16. Actually flying with the door open was a huge learning experience that one can describe, but that you can only experience when you do it. Jake threw in a few more curve balls, each of which paid off in lessons learned. We practiced several soft field and short field takeoffs and they were decent, but when Jake demonstrated one it finally clicked. Don't be shy to have your CFI demonstrate. Sometimes it helps to pick up little things you might have missed. I find demonstrations even more helpful the farther I come in my training.

Next weekend we're off to our stage III checkride. I'm preparing a flight plan to Porterville (KPTV) a little airport outside of Vasalia. I'll go up with John Pyle who is a seasoned aviation veteran and checkride pilot.

In the meantime I am reviewing the GPS manual. The plane I'll use for the checkride has a Bendix/King KLN94 and user manuals are posted at Honeywell's web site. We tried it out on our last flight and there are some amazing capabilities packed in that little thing that I wish I had had on my cross country.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Crazyaviation - Videos of pretty amazing stuff

I just had to bookmark this site. It contains a collection of some pretty amazing footage. Visit Crazyaviation for some funny and some not so funny videos.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

2nd X-Country - Fresno

After heavy rains on Saturday the weather cleared up and we had clear air and incredible visibility. Great day to start the second cross country trip to Fresno - Yosemite International (KFAT). I had prepared a plan that would take me at 5500 feet to the right of South County (E16) so I could maintain a nice view of it and on to Los Banos (KLSN), intercepting the Clovis VOR which would take me only a few miles from Fresno. During my climb I opened the flight plan and requested flight following. From South County I headed east over the hills. A band of clouds was right at my altitude. The first one low, the other higher. I climbed over the first and decended under the second. Light turbulence, but I mainained my heading and advised ATC that I'd be resuming 5500 as soon as I was passed. My dead reckoning worked out perfect and I crossed right over Los Banos (KLSN). The view here is from 5500 feet.

Ok time for the VOR to come alive. NAV 1, tuned, VOR identified, VOR...nada. Nothing on NAV 1...well maybe I'm too far out. I continued on my heading, cross checked to the very few landmarks out there in the central valley ...VOR ...nothing.... Try NAV2 and voila, the CDI starts to swing in. Approach hands me off a couple of times. I set the DME and watch the miles tick away. Approach advises to make left traffic for 29L. Great. consulting the pattern entry map I drew up...I'm set...or am I...Just as I am in my turn to the airport approach asks whether I am planning to land Fresno. Hint 1: If approach asks, I must be somewhere different than I thought. Approach advises a vector and where to look for the field. Now I'm getting nervous (partly because they're not exactly nice about it)...the tone raises my stress levels about 5 notches and now the hair on the back of my neck is straight up as I frantically search for the field. 8 miles, 5 miles, I should be able to see it. Hmmm that could be it, but I can't make out a runway. It looks all wrong. Approach hands me off to tower. They're obviously not too happy..great...finally I see the field...still looks wrong...Then I hear the words. Can you make right traffic short approach 29L... click, click click... now I get it. They vectored me to the other side of the field, didn't bother to tell me to change the approach and I was looking for a way different picture. So nothing I saw made sense to me. Finally I'm able to respond N6413C right traffic 29L, short approach affirmative. Thankfully the landing is just about perfect. On to ground and requesting progessive taxi instructions...again they're not too happy about it. I park in front of the GA tower, which I find has been closed. No restrooms. So much for Fresno. I decide to get a weather update and head out. Since it was getting late I rewrote my flight plan to land in Madera (MAE). One the way out I did my callup with "student pilot" appended. Ahhh they're a little nicer...much appreciated. I squak the squak code and get altitude restriction to at or below 2000. I taxi out, run my pre takeoff checklist in the runup area and call tower. After takeoff I get handed off to approach and a few minutes later request frequency change. Heading, map...everything matches...ok confidence back. I see the field ahead and check the ASOS. Wind straight down the runway..great. I switch to Madera 122.8. Only one guy in the pattern. Left 45 entry 30..stable approach and smoothly kiss the ground. Taxi back to departure, set my frequencies in the runup area. On the way over I already checked that I was crossing the outbound radial from Clovis and the CDI had swung in and out. With confidence I take off in an 11 knot headwind. Airborne I notice that my TAS is ok, but I'm not making much ground speed. Surface winds must have kicked up. Left turn to depart on the cross wind to the west. I intercept the 267 degree radial from Clovis to Los Banos and finally have my confidence back. Enough to call Approach and request flight following. Approach asks me to wait 4 miles and contact Approach on 120.95. I'm back on track and 20 minutes later cross Los Banos just like I had before and assume my new heading of 261 degrees to South County. Times are coming out perfect on my flight log. Left is a picture of San Luis reservoir.

I come out right below Anderson reservoir exactly where I should have, check ATIS for Reid Hillview (KRHV) and start my desent to UTC, arrive at UTC 3500 and call the tower, which advises me 31L, report 3 miles. I confirm and write down the instructions. I continue my descend, come up on 3 miles and finally get to jump in and announce 3 miles. Tower asks me to leave class D airspace. I break right and climb back out over UTC. Over UTC tower gets back to me. Apparently too many aircraft in the pattern and he didn't remember that he cleared me to 31L...I check my log...I had even written it down and confirmed with my call sign. Taking notes helps. The best my home field the tower is actually nice...even through a mixup like this. Better safe than sorry I start my second approach again cleared to 31L. About 4 miles out I get cleared to land just before sunset. Stable approach and smooth landing. I get cleared to cross the right and switch to ground as we chat about what might have happened. Biggest lesson learned, a tower controller that keeps his cool and is actually nice through a tense situation can make a hell of a difference. Great end to an exciting flight, the lessons of which I won't soon forget.

Friday, January 13, 2006

FAA - Flight Safety Program & Seminars

When it comes to safety seminars, ever wonder what's going on outside of your club in the area you live in. I have to admit, the FAA is one of the federal agencies that provide some of the best tools to their constituents. This site lists all of the events, lets you search by ZIP code, offers registration, maps and nice event descriptions.

Federal Aviation Administration - - Flight Safety Program

Aviation Podcast

Podcasts are sound or video recordings that can be downloaded to an MP3 player or listened to online. Over the past year a significant number of podcasts sites have been added to the net and not surprisingly pilots are jumping into the mix. Here are a few aviation related podcast sites that I have found. The sites provide some interesting content that spans the spectrum from humor to anecdotes and interesting learning from fellow pilots.

The Finer Points - An Aviation Podcast
Aero News
General Aviation Weekly

New podcast directories are springing up all over the web and you can use them to discover a world of aviation broadcasts. Just search for "podcast directory" in any search engine or visit Yahoo at

Want to publish your own aviation podcast? Here is one provider that seems to make it easy for folks to record and publish. A fantastic tutorial that describes how to get set up for creating your own podcasts is found here

Friday, January 06, 2006

My Flight Blog: Google Maps and Flight Tracking by

Just saw a great post from a fellow flying blogger. It describes a new service from FBOWEB that visualizes 3D flight tracking.
My Flight Blog: Google Maps and Flight Tracking by