Monday, May 07, 2007

Nice Refreshing Flight

Sunday seemed like just as nice a day as Saturday seemed like but was not. My friend Kindra wanted to go flying, so I checked the weather; there was definitely some wind but nothing like the gustiness reported for Saturday. Plus, it was the second warm day in a row, so theoretically there would be less turbulence. I was still concerned about taking a passenger up after Saturday's experience; if I'd had a passenger on Saturday I'm pretty sure they would've tossed their cookies -- in fact if I had been a passenger on Saturday, I'm pretty sure I would've lost it.

We didn't have much time, so we just decided to do a real bay tour over San Francisco and the Golden Gate and all that. We got 236SP out of SQL; it wasn't very busy and I got my squawk code for the class B transition almost instantly. 236Sp is a nice plane, very well taken care of and relatively new -- that's the problem with the Cherokees; they're all from the early '80s. So we preflighted, I wavered a little bit on the decision to go because of the wind, then decided we could always turn back if we wanted to.

So we took off, called up SFO tower, got our clearance through their airspace, and after crossing the airport, where I would ordinarily turn and head straight for the bridge, I got vectored directly over downtown SF. I tend to stay away from this area, just because I'm not sure where I can and can't go yet, but I'm learning! It was very cool; we saw the Transamerica building and Coit Tower, and of course the whole marina. We went up toward San Pablo Bay, twisting to get better views of Treasure Island and Alcatraz. I was holding 2000' exactly, in stark contrast to the previous day's sudden deviations of 200' or more. We flew back down, over the Golden Gate, and then took the coastline down to Ano Nuevo. That was new; I had to do some concentrating to not bust SFO's airspace since I was out of it, and there's a small area where it comes down to 1500' but mostly it starts at 2100'.

We turned around and came back over Crystal Springs, and into San Carlos where the controller helped me out by putting me in front of a plane doing pattern work, but of course this also resulted in my having to maneuver a bit more steeply than I would've liked. My landing was my best in a really long time -- winds were 320 at 10, nearly right down the runway and pretty strong, so I went with 20 degrees of flaps. I held it off for a really long time, and touched down very smoothly!

Next instrument lesson is Wednesday; I'm going to try to fly before then, maybe a quick cross country to someplace like Modesto or Salinas or Monterey.

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