Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tracy and back again

We went out for a simple, short flight to Tracy and back in Cherokee 4319D. But no flight is without its share of adventure, and this was no exception. We left San Carlos at about 4:15, and when we got to Tracy, the pattern was busy. A C150 in front of me decided to do a 360 to get out of the way of myself and the Cirrus behind me. I thought about getting out of the way too, as the Cirrus was pretty close behind me, but then just decided that as long as I don't dilly dally my way through the pattern, it would be fine. It was, and it was my nicest touchdown ever in a Cherokee. And I got off at the first taxiway, which was a good thing -- as I cleared the runway, I looked back and the Cirrus was about 2 seconds from touching down.

Getting out of the airport was another challenge. Everything was locked up! It seemed like there was no way out, but then we found a gate where there was a button to open it for pedestrians to exit. OK, great, but how would we get back in? We figured out that Nirmala, my travel companion, was actually small enough to squeeze through the closed gate. So after a nice time at our friends' place, we broke back into the airport and went back to the plane.

We took off into the beautiful night sky, and just admired the lights from above. Traffic was so light that even I wasn't worried. We touched 4500' and immediately began our descent to get under SFO's Class B airspace above us -- it seemed like as soon as we got to cruise altitude we could actually see San Carlos off in the distance. Then, of course, there was a complication: The panel lights decided they were going to flicker on and off in the most annoying possible fashion. Now, I had two flashlights with me. One was decidedly too bright, and the other was on its last legs (I have a cool LED white/red flashlight coming that I ordered a couple of weeks ago, but for some reason it's not here yet). So I ended up having to perform the landing without having a clear read on my airspeed indicator. It wasn't that hard, it was just an additional challenge. But, it was probably my second best touchdown in a Cherokee! Finally Nirmala is convinced that I can land!

Also, I'm making significant headway in the King Instrument DVD course. I am through the section about instrument approaches, which was probably the biggest and most foreign section to me. Martha King does a great job explaining all the concepts -- I haven't taken the test yet, but so far I highly recommend this course!

My next step in flight training will hopefully be to go land and take off from a Class C airport, so I get familiar with takeoff clearances and all that. Minor thing, I could probably figure it out, but it's also a good way for me to audition instructors for further training.


Colin said...

One of my lights is an LED light that straps to my forehead. For night flights this means that both hands are free and it points where I point my head. Handy.

It really helps during a night pre-flight, and tie-down after arrival.

Then I have another little maglite in the plane as well.

MKT said...

I've gotta find myself one of those forehead lights -- that sounds like it'd be really helpful. And a bonus if I ever find myself stuck in a mineshaft!

Here's one:

Looks like it comes with color filters as well. Cool!