Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Just Plane Fun

This afternoon a friend of mine, Craig, and I went for a Bay Tour. Craig is another pilot and another student of my CFI. He's the guy that I consider key in me finally getting my PPL by reminding me our CFI never taught us how to land.  In the little over a year since we both finished our PPL's we, and our families, have become friends. Anyway, Craig hasn't been flying as often as he'd like and wants to be able to fly some Bay Tours but he'd never done one. I do them often so we decided I'd fly him on a Bay Tour and show him what it's like and what to expect on the way. Craig brought his little girl with him for the trip.

We had a great time on the Bay Tour...The air was smooth, skies were clear, and there wasn't much traffic at all. ATC behaved themselves and did what I said they would. We flew up the penninsula, over San Francisco and right over the Golden Gate Bridge (of course). I did a little circle around Alkatraz island too. 

Since Craig was with me and I knew he would be able to help with navigation I decided to return down the East Bay over Oakland instead of going further east down towards Livermore as I normally do. That is where it got really fun. ATC would tell me to go towards a landmark, Craig would look at the moving map on my iPad and figure out where that landmark was and tell me what direction to go to get to the landmark. I'd see the landmark eventually but it would have been a lot harder without his help.

The "South Route" if you don't talk to HWD tower.

Oakland Tower asked if we wanted to go the East route or South route. I didn't know either one so I picked South. They had us fly right over the arrival end of runway 29 at Oakland International at 2000 ft as a jet landed beneath us. Then we were directed to fly towards midspan of the San Mateo bridge at 1400ft. We were given the option to talk to Hayward Tower or remain clear of the airspace and I decided to remain clear.

There we were, all of 1400 feet off the water over the San Francisco Bay using the GPS and moving map to stay clear of Hayward's Class D, Oakland's Class C, San Francisco's Class B and San Jose's Class C airspace. I am not very comfortable flying low over water, I want more space and time to glide in case of engine failure.. so I was nervous. But I have to admit, it was a very cool view to be flying over the Bay at what is essentially pattern altitude!

We came back in to land only 1.4 hours after taking off... the flight was just plain (plane) fun. I'm glad we got to do it. 

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