I'm exhausted. In the last three days, I've logged 5.5 hours of flight time. Hopefully no "real" pilots read this blog, because I just lost all credibility with them, but seriously, the flying was great but it wore me out.
First, Nirmala and I went to visit her parents down in Lompoc. Lompoc is right next to Vandenberg AFB, which makes it a little tricky to maneuver in without breaking military airspace, which is pretty much always a bad idea. We flew down on Friday, and back today, taking 1.9 hours down and 2.2 hours back. The flight down was absolutely great -- the weather was beautiful, and we had a strong tailwind so we got down there in 1:40, which is not only incredible, but also exactly what was predicted by my flight plan. It amazes me how accurate the planning process can be! The one thing I missed was the turn to head for Lompoc, but ATC caught me (yet another advantage of flight following): "4335K, confirm your destination is Lompoc." "Affirmative..." (turning to the right)
The flight back was a little harder. Most of it was fine, and I managed to get the autopilot to work for part of the time, but once we got into the Bay Area, it was really busy, and pretty turbulent. We got knocked around pretty good coming over the hills from Watsonville. My approach to landing at SQL was pretty rough, but the landing itself was quite good (the one at Lompoc was a bit hard due to a high flare).
Then, I took the same plane out to Petaluma tonight -- my band Hookslide was opening for Tower Of Power at the Mystic Theater in Petaluma, so I thought it'd be a great opportunity to fly up. So off I went, and it was a decent enough flight except, again, for the turbulence, especially close to Petaluma. Oh, and I ended up waiting 40 minutes for a cab! The flight was only 40 minutes; I could have driven and gotten there quicker! I was so upset.
The flight back was again turbulent after takeoff, but smoothed out as I approached San Francisco. I did the Class B transition well (the outbound one as well), and came in for landing at San Carlos. The tower was closed, so I decided to head for runway 30 after coming overhead and totally failing to see the windsock. I set up, made for the runway, flared, leveled off, and....OUCH I hit the nosewheel first -- holy cow, I've never done that before. It wasn't too bad, but it was not good. The Cherokee requires more force on the yoke than the Cessnas, and I think I really needed to manhandle the plane into a nose up attitude at that point, and didn't.
Anyway, I logged 5.5 hours total, 4.1 cross country. That gives me 10.6 hours for the month, and the month isn't over yet! Very exciting.