Wednesday, November 28, 2012

First Solo - Jayne!

Congratulations to Jayne who soloed on November 26, 2012. Jayne was flying a C172 last year, and after a break to go traveling and buy a mountain chalet, she decided to switch to the C162 Skycatcher and fulfil her dream.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

First Solo - Robert!

Congratulations to Robert who soloed on November 7, 2012!  Robert was ready way back in June but then had to travel extensively. He is definitely prepared for cross country flight.

Private Pilot - Amanda

Congratulations to Amanda who passed her checkride on November 14, 2012!  In August Amanda received the news that her husband had gotten a new job several hundred miles away which necessitated them to move.  So, while he relocated to the new city, we started on the fast tract to complete her training, while she managed the sale of their home, the move of all of their belongings, caring for their young son, and maintaining a full time job. 

Whew...if that wasn't enough, weather caused her to reschedule her checkride four times, and after already moving to their new home, she made the drive back to the Bay Area to complete her checkride  That is some perseverance!!!

Private Pilot - Scott

Congratulations to Scott who passed his checkride on September 27, 2012!  Scott was very focused and a dedicated student throughout his training.  He was beaming with joy on that special day, along with that look of accomplishment and relief that he had finally achieved his dream.

Private Pilot - Ioan

Congratulations to Ioan who passed his checkride on September 24, 2012!  Ioan enjoyed his training so much that we did several sightseeing flights around the Bay Area.  He was in such awe by the experience that he always had the NFlightcam mounted to the windshield and recorded every flight, not to miss a moment.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The "Emergency Descent"

This is a great example of the new maneuver in the PTS for private pilots, the "Emergency Descent".

Fire and water: Pilot, passenger rescued after ditching Baron

The fire quickly spread from the forward baggage compartment of the Beechcraft Baron, and smoke filled the cockpit of the twin cruising at 11,000 feet.

Pilot Theodore Wright made a quick radio call to ATC before cutting the electrical master switch, hopeful that would cut the trouble off at the source. But it was not, apparently, an electrical fire. While opening the door cleared some of the smoke from the cabin, flames were visible outside, apparently coming from the baggage compartment door, and Wright cut the throttles and dove for the Gulf of Mexico.

“I was probably over redline by 20 knots,” Wright recalled of the harrowing descent, heat from the fire building behind the instrument panel. “I couldn’t see the instruments … the windshield was half melted.”

It took about two minutes to get to sea level and ditch the aircraft, and “that two minutes was longer than the three hours we spent in the water,” Wright recalled.

Wright, and passenger Raymond Fosdick managed to don personal flotation devices as the aircraft sank beneath their feet, and were rescued just before sunset Sept. 20 by the U.S. Coast Guard, which dispatched a helicopter after receiving an alert through a hand-held Satellite GPS Messenger SPOT Wright bought in 2008 to report his position to family and friends during a circumnavigation in a sailboat. It has been part of his kit ever since.

“I don’t go anywhere without it,” Wright said, adding that his 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter failed to register the position of the aircraft, which sank about 60 seconds after landing on the water.

“The airplane went down so fast that it’s possible it never got its fix off,” Wright said of the ELT. Coast Guard public relations staff members were unable to confirm exactly what signals were received from the ELT, if any, referring AOPA to a Sept. 21 press release that stated the distress call came from “a spot beacon alert.”

Wright and Fosdick, both undaunted by the ordeal, have given several interviews to national media outlets, each stating they have no fear of flying again. In the glare of the media spotlight, Wright has made an effort to make a case for both relative safety, and the good that general aviation does, calling attention to a charitable organization he recently founded: Around the World for Life. Wright plans to circumnavigate in a light airplane (the Baron is no longer an option), and raise money to fight childhood disease while educating the public about the value and contributions of GA.

While not yet listed by the IRS as a nonprofit organization eligible for tax-deductible contributions, Wright said that paperwork is pending, and he is also actively searching for a suitable replacement aircraft.

Wright has a hunch, but no certainty, about what caused the fire in a compartment containing typical baggage for a trip from Texas to Florida. A conclusive determination is likely to be elusive: the Baron is beneath 3,000 feet of water, about 30 miles off shore. A salvage company quoted a cost of $55,000 a day, with an estimated three days required to locate and explore the wreck with remotely operated submarines.

“I’d like to have the vertical stabilizer for my den, but not at that kind of money,” Wright said.

U.S. Coast Guard video of the rescue:



Saturday, September 15, 2012

WOW pioneers strike gold in Columbia!

WOW (Women of West Valley Flying Club) would have made quite an entrance had we arrived into Columbia by plane as prospectors 160 years ago. Instead, the date was Thursday September 12th 2012 and we had the benefits of aerodynamic engineering and norcal to guide us.

Arrival at Columbia Airport (O22)
 How life has changed since this time but not for Columbia State Historic Park where the main gold rush town of Columbia has become preserved for posterity. A total of 16 WOW pioneers flew over from the Bay Area’s six different airports in 6 different planes ranging from C172s, C182s, Cherokees, and a Piper Dakota seeking riches in the form of lunch and laughter. Not only did we have WOW members, but many members of local 99s chapters joined us. We were also met at the airport by a local glider pilot (friend of one of our pilots) who shared lots of local color.

Being non-towered, the flight into Columbia was a choice between runway 17 (calm) or runway 35 (not-so-calm) and most pilots cautiously opted for 35 with a left downwind arrival. I couldn't help noticing a small hill momentarily obstructing the numbers as Amanda - our skilled student pilot - went from downwind to base. With an elevation of 2,120 MSL there was no doubt about it, we'd gone up the hill a bit. The area is also prone to wildfires and the stationed Cal Fire unit at Columbia was hard to miss at what is currently its busiest time of year. Several WOW's watched as a 30,000 pound Grumman S-2T air tanker carrying 1200 gallons of fire retardant weighing an additional 20,000 pounds struggled to get airborne and utilize the full 4670 feet of runway 17.

Lunch at the Saloon
 The next exciting installment was an adventurous 15 minute stroll that meandered from the airport to Jack Douglass Saloon in the town passing many a marble limestone outcrop and the odd lizard. This saloon is said to be one of the oldest watering holes in the west (yee-haw) and served some refreshing locally made wild cherry flavored Sarsaparilla - the 1850s name for root beer - and some pretty good food. The 'humongous Douglass deluxe nachos' gets the big thumbs up but only if you're really hungry and have a friend or three to share it with.
Columbia was a fun destination and at 88 miles from Palo Alto airport, it was just far enough away to feel like you were experiencing a very different part of California and all within an hour by plane. Next time we really should do a spot of gold panning. There can't be a better endorsement to travel by plane than this.
(written by Jayne Pearce/edited by Sue Ballew)

(comments encouraged)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Solo - Bogdan

Congratulations to Bogdan who soloed on August 20, 2012!  We had perfect conditions and Bogdan soloed without a hitch.  He's ready for more!

South Africa: Wonder-Women in Aviation

South Africa: Wonder-Women in Aviation Initiative to Encourage Women Into Aviation

1time Airline will be embarking on an initiative in August 2012, called Wonder-Women in Aviation, which involves 30 female students from Sizwe Secondary School in Elandsfontein, receiving first-hand exposure to the airline's operations by shadowing its female employees on their daily work routine.

The students, who range from grades 10 to 12, will see how many women manage to build notable careers in aviation, the corporate world and technical positions. Students will discover the wonder of flight, as they will accompany cabin crew on their flights to Cape Town and Durban.

Others will shadow women in executive and managerial positions, in the various departments at the head office in Isando, Johannesburg.  more

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chinese Female Fighter Pilots

Chinese female fighter jet pilots complete first solo flights. 

Five Chinese female pilots have completed solo flights in China's indigenous J-10 fighter jets, becoming the first batch of female pilots to fly combat aircrafts in the country, reports Want Daily, our Chinese-language sister newspaper.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Solo - Kyle!

Congratulations to Kyle who soloed on August 11, 2012!  Kyle had started flying a couple of years earlier and then got very busy with work.  He came back recently to resume his training.  This was actually his second solo but he said it certainly felt like the first as he smiled from ear to ear.

Private Pilot - Masha!

Congratulations to Masha - she passed her Private Pilot checkride on Aug 9, 2012! After leaving the country several times on business trips, Masha decided it was time to get this done.  So flying three times per week did the trick.

First Solo - Amanda!

Congratulations to Amanda who soloed on 07/08/12!  Amanda has been practicing diligently with lessons twice a week while managing a full time job and caring for her and her husband's new son.  I bet she can't wait to take him for a flight.

Private Pilot - Willie!

Congratulations to Willie who passed his checkride on May 17, 2012 and is now a proud Private Pilot!  Willie was determined to get everything finished up by a certain date as he and his wife were expecting a baby in the next 30 days and things were getting a bit hectic.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Solo - Scott!

Congratulations to Scott who soloed on April 17th, 2012!

As Spring arrived this year, so arrived the winds.  It seemed that every time Scott showed up for a lesson, the winds provided a challenge with either high velocity, gusts, or shifting direction.  Although this was great experience, it was not what the new pilot wants when learning how to land.

Scott, being the weekend flyer, persisted, and then with the weather forecast for relatively manageable winds for the coming week, I suggested an extra lesson during the week to take advantage of the great conditions.  This also provided for a repeat lesson close together to have those muscle memory skills stay in tact.

Even though Scott had to take a day off work, I think he was very pleased with the outcome, as evidenced by his grin from ear to ear.

Friday, March 23, 2012

First solo - Ioan!

Congratulations to Ioan (John) who soloed on Mar 21, 2012! 

Ioan grew up with aviation in his family, with his father flying in the Romanian Air Force.  Wanting his son to be diversified in his skills, his father insisted that Ioan learn the piano and accordion instead of learning to fly.  It wasn’t until much later that Ioan realized he could actually learn to fly an airplane.

With a 10 kt headwind, Ioan accomplished his requisite 3 landings and became a proud new solo pilot.  After the flight we went out to dinner to celebrate.  The waitress asked us if we were celebrating anything and I said “Yes, Ioan just soloed.”  She said “congratulations on being single!”  Ha!  I tried to explain what soloing meant, but I could tell she really didn’t get it.

First Solo!

Congratulations to Masha who soloed on February 22nd, 2012! 

As we were practicing landings in anticipation of Masha's first solo, the wind was increasing.  You really want that perfect day for a first solo as you want everything to go just right.

I was glad that her landings were turning out well so we could do this before things changed too much.  She dropped me off at the instructors bench, which had recently been removed at Palo Alto :-( , and she was off for her memorable experience.  

Sure enough the winds picked up but mostly down the runway and she handled it beautifully.