May 25, 2011
Virgin America is starting service between San Francisco (SFO) and Chicago O'Hare (ORD) this week and I have the opportunity to fly on the inaugural flight to Chicago. While in the Bay Area I decide it would be fun to take a Cessna 172 up and do a San Francisco Bay Aerial Tour.
Earlier this week I reached out to Jason Miller who is a local CFI and also host of the Finer Points Podcast. Jason suggested we fly out of San Carlos Airport (KSQL) and fly North past San Francisco International Airport over the city and then tour the bay before coming back south along the Pacific coastline.
After arriving commercially, I started the day with lunch at Sky Kitchen a restaurant just off the west side of the San Carlos airport. There I sat at a giant table in the middle of the restaurant surrounded by a group of pilots that meet for lunch nearly daily, some of them for more than 40 years. I enjoyed taking in the camaraderie and enjoying hearing some long tails. This is a new favorite $100 Hamburger destination.
After lunch I met Jason at West Valley Flying Club. We pre-flighted the airport then launched to the North. Soon after take-off we received hand-off to the San Francisco Tower that allowed us to transition the San Francisco Class B Airspace. It was a thrill flying parallel to the commercial traffic landing on runway 28L and 28R. Just three hours before I had been in one of those tin cans. I much preferred being pilot in command over traveling like a sardine.
Next we flew directly over San Francisco I did a lap around both the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Having visited both the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz before I loved seeing them from this new vantage point. Then we flew over Point Reyes National Seashore before turning south to fly low along the Pacific coastline.
Heading south along the coast we paralleled scenic highway 1 as it winded its way down from San Francisco to Half Moon Bay. As we descended to 1,400 feet to stay below Class B Airspace NORCAL announced a traffic advisory at our 11 o'clock. The traffic was a 747 departing San Francisco International and quickly became no factor, but it was a thrill none the less to briefly share the airspace with a Boeing 747 about 500 feet above us and climb.
Another enjoyable flightseeing experience in the book and one I highly recommend to all pilots. There are few icons as thrilling to fly by then the Golden Gate Bridge.
May 18, 2011
During the episode I shared some of my thoughts on the troubling decline in the pilot population. When only 20% of those that start learning to fly actually earn their private pilot certificate it is obvious an issue exists. AOPA is dedicated to finding a solution and has created the AOPA Flight Training Student Retention Initiative which is a long-term, industry-wide effort dedicated to increasing the percentage of students who earn a pilot certificate. In conjunction with this program AOPA published the Flight Training Experience Research Report which identified 67 discrete attributes that contribute towards the optimal flight training experience. Four focus areas were identified by the study as needing improvements including educational quality, customer focus, community and information sharing. I shared with the Airplane Geeks my opinions on this study and how we can all help improve the flight training experience.
We also talked about some of the great benefits that have come out of running this blog for the past seven years. Top of that list is all the great people I have met through the blog who have inspired me and having the opportunity to inspire a few of you along the way as well. As you would expect on a podcast about airplanes we also talked about some of the cool planes I have had the opportunity to fly or fly-in including the L-39 Albatros and the B-17 Flying Fortress.
In addition to the contributions by the four U.S. based Airplane Geeks the show features a regular segment hosted by Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron of the Plane Crazy Down Under Podcast. In this episode they have a special guest of their own Stephen Force of Airspeed Online. Also contributing to Airplane Geeks is Pieter Johnson who provides an update from across the pond.
If you have never listened to the Airplane Geeks Podcast I encourage you to give it a listen today.