Today Nirmala and I went up for a little trip up over SFO, the City, and the north coast. It was a beautiful sunny day, which was part of the motivation, but the other part of the story is that we have to go to a wedding in Lodi tomorrow, and before we can do that I need to get my night currency up, which means I need three takeoffs and landings at least one hour after sunset, before I can fly with a passenger at night (and we'll be coming back at night tomorrow). Also, I hadn't flown in nearly two weeks, so I didn't want my first flight to be at night. So, we went for a daytime flight. Originally I was just going to do pattern work, but Nirmala wanted to come with me, and I was pretty sure she'd be bored of the pattern pretty quickly!
So we went to SQL -- as we drove up, I saw N236SP (the plane I'd reserved) in its parking spot, with the flaps extended! Very strange, I thought, but we went into the club and checked out the book. It turns out that the battery has a draining problem, and the plane would not start for a renter last night -- and nothing had been done since the squawk (I guess nobody even went out and looked at it to put the flaps back in!). The only other 172 (SP or otherwise) available was 4849D, an older 172N, old enough to have the 40 degrees of flaps.
We had to sit for a while as I convinced myself that I was indeed ready to try a Class B transition. After a while, I figured, what's the worst that can happen? What I'm nervous about is not a piloting issue, nor a weather issue, nor anything that is really all that hazardous; what I was worried about was just the workload and whether I could handle it. And the workload was pretty much making sure I could hear my clearances, altitudes and routing, and frequencies. So we went for it.
Things didn't start out so well; I actually had to ask my passenger what SQL ground said! Turned out it was "squawk code on request." That was mildly embarrassing, and I'm sure it didn't inspire confidence. But whatever. We went out to the 12 runup, ran up, and took off on a left downwind. I wasn't sure what altitude to go to, so I went to 1200'. SQL Tower handed me off to SFO Tower, and I stated my request. I had to circle over Bay Meadows once before entering Class B, but no big deal -- Nirmala said she saw Whole Foods.
So up north we went! It was totally smooth, I got handed off to Norcal Approach, who eventually asked me if I was going to stay in the north bay for a while. After an affirmative response, he let me go and we flew up the coast up to Point Reyes, where we'd been hiking the previous weekend. The weather was beautiful! Only a little turbulence going over the hills, but otherwise it was totally smooth.
We took an inland route back, over 101 and the Golden Gate. I used the wrong frequency first to contact approach, but no big deal. I called the right frequency and they cleared me into Class B, so we went back down over the City, and followed 101 down. I had not gotten the SQL ATIS weather, so approach gave me the numbers -- by this time, the winds had shifted and SQL was using runway 30 instead of 12 that we took off on. So I crossed over at 1200', entered a right pattern a little high, entered final right on target, and....what a crappy landing. Flat, too fast, a little bounce, and a nearly skidding halt.
So tonight I might go out and take care of my night currency requirements, but we'll see how I feel. Otherwise we'll just drive to Lodi tomorrow!