January 27, 2014

San Francisco Seaplane Adventures

seaplane_adventures.jpgI think all pilots, subconsciously or not, gravitate towards airports. We can't keep our eyes from focusing on overflying airplanes and following them to airports, or at least that is what I do. While visiting San Francisco this past weekend I noticed several airplanes flying over the various sites of that wonderful city. I knew they could have flown from one of many nearby airfields. In fact just a few years earlier I had flown with Jason Miller out of San Carlos (KSQL) and enjoyed a flightseeing tour along the bay and Pacific coast including a flyby of the Golden Gate Bridge.

What caught my eye on Friday was a beautiful de Havilland Beaver on floats flying low along the bay. I wondered where it was based before getting distracted by my heavy breathing as I hoofed up another sweat-inducing hill that the city is known for. The next day I rented a bike and rode from San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bride to Sausalito. My goal was to visit Old Mill Park, just a few miles past Sausalito, to check out world's tallest trees.

On the map I was provided was a reference to a float plane base, which I could not pass on checking out during my adventure. The ride was beautiful and has become one of my favorite ways to enjoy San Francisco. Even better then the ride was the encounter with Seaplane Adventures.

I pedaled up to their dock and popped in and asked if they would mind if I walked out on their dock to check out their airplanes. Floating next to the dock were a Cessna 172 on floats and the de Havilland Beaver I had seen the day prior. While talking to the owner, Aaron, he asked if I wanted to go for a ride. He was just getting ready to take another couple up for a ride and had space for one more. I quickly tossed aside my goals of spending a day in nature for an opportunity to fly above San Francisco in one of my favorite airplanes. This would be my second flight in the Beaver, My wife and I were blessed with the opportunity to land on a glacier in Alaska about ten years ago and still remains one of my fondest aviation experiences.

I was both disappointed and pleased to learn that one of the other passengers was a pilot. Disappointed because as a pilot he too had interest in the right seat and had requested it. However, I enjoyed the opportunity to talk aviation with both Aaron and Les and his wife who had flown down to San Francisco via private aviation (Hat tip to Open Airplane's Rod Rakic*). My words will never be able to do justice to the views we enjoyed, nor for that matter do these pictures (All I had was my iPhone). But, I thought I would share a few of the videos and photos I took and compiled below to give you a feel of what it is like.

If you find yourself in San Francisco be sure to check out Seaplane Adventures. I guarantee they will take great care of you. The owner mentioned in addition to flightseeing they also offer floatplane training, something I might consider next time I am in town.

*If you have not read Rod Rakic's blog post "Why I Don't Talk About 'General Aviation' Anymore", check it out. I plan to use the term Private Aviation instead of General Aviation more often.


January 16, 2014

2013 Year of Flying in Review

2013Hours.jpgTypically my annual review is focused on the hours logged. This past year I feel I was as invested in general aviation as I have ever been, that being said my hours spent as PIC don't necessarily reflect that. Coming off a strong year in 2012 where I logged nearly 40 hours and visited nine states in General Aviation aircraft, 2013 looks weak at just 11.5 hours logged as PIC.

More than ever I had other priorities that conflicted with flying including family, work and dedication to Ground Effect Advisors an organization I co-founded in 2013 which is dedicated to helping create more flying clubs around the country. In 2014 I hope to find more balance that lets me increase the hours flown while also not giving up much time from families or career aspirations. I continue to toy with the idea of dedicating time and resources to earn the Instrument Rating in 2014.

Below is a recap of my 2013 as it related to aviation:

Start a Flying Club
In February I co-founded Ground Effect Advisors with Al Waterloo, Louis Bowers and Marc Epner. We launched StartAFlyingClub.com and the first ever flying club scholarship. In May we announced the winner of the scholarship Zach Piech (SP) and since then he has launched Cape Fear Flyers which now has 10 members and two aircraft! I look forward to helping build more flying clubs in 2014.

Lunchtime Flying
In March I proved to myself that I could carve out a few hours away from the office and log a true $100 Lunch by packing a peanut butter and jelly and doing a few laps around the pattern. I plan to reuse this tactic in 2014 to keep fresh.

Flying the Sky Arrow
One highlight of 2013 was logging 4 hours in the Sky Arrow. Unfortunately, soon after I checkedout in the aircraft the plane was moved out of the club. This airplane was a joy to fly and reminded me how much fun low and slow can be. I hope to find something fun like this to log some hours in this year:

Aviation Adventure
Probably the most fun day of aviating was also the last day I flew in 2013. In August I shared the plane with friend Louis Bowers and we flew down to the press day for the Chicago Air and Water Show. Not only did we get some PIC time in the Piper Archer we both logged some time in the T-6 Texan thanks to Team Aerostars Flight Team. After enjoying some aerobatics and nice views of the city we did some more general aviation aviating, and I experienced my first flat tire in a GA aircraft. The day did not go as planned but offered a fun learning experience.

GA's Up and Comers
In December I was honored to be included in a list of 24 General Aviation Up and Comers selected by General Aviation News and their readers for my contributions with Ground Effect Advisors and this blog. The article can be found in their December 20th issue and viewed online.

This fall and winter worked dominated and I was not able to get out to the airport much. The break from flying represents my longest break from flying. Something I am hoping to rectify in the coming weeks.


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