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2014 Q2 Newsletter

Steve Blonstein, General Manager WVFC

Club Owned Aircraft

Certain planes have historically been difficult to attract to the club, and when we get them they are hard to keep around for one reason or another.   Two good examples of these types of planes are the American Champion Super Decathlon and the Beechcraft Duchess.  The Super Decathlon is an ideal starter plane for aerobatics and has always had a loyal following inside the club membership.  The Beechcraft Duchess is a classic twin-engine training platform and is often the choice for members wanting to move up to a multi-engine plane.  Both planes are relatively rare, especially ones in good condition.   We have had quite a long drought without either of these planes on the flight line.  It definitely affects the membership numbers, as those interested members stray to other operations that can offer these platforms. 

After working with the membership for several months and not finding anyone to buy these airplanes, the board of directors held meetings to discuss the possibility of the club itself acquiring one or more of these “special” planes to help the club maintain a more diverse and interesting fleet.  After some deliberation, the board voted unanimously to first acquire a Super Decathlon for the flight line.  It will likely be available for rent sometime towards the end of May.  The acquisition of planes by the club raises a host of questions and I would like to try and answer several of them here.  If you have additional questions, then feel free to stop by or email me and we’ll keep the dialog going.  So here we go.

Q. I’m a member and have no interest in flying a Super Decathlon so why are we investing club resources in such a plane?

A. There are several parts to the answer.  Just having a Super D. on the flight line will attract new (or departed members to return).  We lost between 12 and 20 members the last time a Super D. left the club.  That’s a decent number of members and the lost revenue that goes with them.   The club invests its’ working capital in all kinds of ways, sometimes appealing to only a small percentage of the membership.  The same argument was used with the acquisition of our G1000 Simulator which has proven to be a great asset for those members interested in using it (especially getting one free hour per month along the way) and is flying more than we predicted, so will return the capital to the club in less than the planned 5 years.

Q.  Does this mean that the club is now competing with existing owners?

A.  No.  The club will not start acquiring planes that compete directly with existing owners e.g. Cessna, Piper, and Cirrus.  The lower models of American Champion planes (7ECA, 7GCAA) will likely benefit because they offer a path from zero tail-wheel time to the Super-D.

Q.  Is this a slippery slope to the club owning more and more airplanes?

A. No.  This is a limited strategy to plug very specific strategic gaps in our portfolio.  These gaps will shift over time and we will respond accordingly.  However, it is not the intent of this strategy to own multiple planes but only one or two as is seen fit by the board of directors.

Q. How is this plane going to pay for itself?

A. The break-even point for most of the member-owned planes is around 20-25 hours per month, depending upon a host of factors.  The break-even point for a club plane will be a little lower, because the club won’t need to charge itself operational fees, and will benefit from things like fuel, oil, and parts at wholesale rates.  We expect the break-even point to be somewhere in the 15-hour per month range.

Q.  What is the exit strategy for the plane?

A. Our short-term goal (first year) is to get the plane established on the flight line.  Once established, we will likely look to sell the plane to a member. As part of the deal we will require that the plane remain on the flight line for a specified minimum time (likely 24 months).  The proceeds from the sale may be utilized for other capital projects, or possibly to acquire another difficult to acquire airplane like a Beechcraft Duchess (if we haven’t already obtained one by then).

This is an exciting new period for the club as we continue to broaden our portfolio and appeal to the membership. 

Safe Flying


Michael May, Standards Officer WVFC

Handling Equipment Malfunctions

Pop Quiz!

What is the first action you should take in the event of a low voltage condition (after maintaining aircraft control)? Hint: The correct answer is the same for virtually every type of aircraft that WVFC operates, and for all flight conditions (day/night, IFR/VFR). Take a minute to think of what your first response to this would be, then continue reading.

Have your answer? Good. Next question: What is the first action you should take in the event of having to land with a flat main tire? Hint #2: The correct answer to this question is the same as the correct answer to the previous question.

The correct answer to both of these scenarios is to reach your right arm into the seat back pocket and pull out the Aircraft Flight Manual, open it to the Emergency Procedures section, and find the appropriate checklist. The common thread to both of these scenarios is that they don’t constitute a time-critical emergency that must be responded to from memory. The airplane will fly along just fine while you take the 30 seconds required to get out a printed checklist.

Why am I bringing this up? During your training, you practiced engine failures, fires, and emergency landings. All of these require that you respond immediately and from memory, and rightfully so. Your CFI probably spent far less time reviewing and practicing other types of malfunctions, even though they may be far more likely to actually occur. The reason for this is because you have help for these types of situations riding in that seat back pocket! Your CFI is making sure that you know what to do when there’s no time to look up the answer. For everything else, it’s an open book test. When the low volts annunciator illuminates, you shouldn’t touch a single switch or circuit breaker until you’ve gotten out the appropriate checklist.

How do you know if a checklist exists for the specific issue you have? Just look at the Emergency Procedures section (usually section 3) table of contents. The types of emergencies covered in this section vary significantly depending on the manufacturer and the age of the aircraft. Aircraft built in the 1980’s or later usually have checklists for most situations, so there’s a good chance that there will be some kind of checklist for most malfunctions. And if it isn’t there, at least you checked. You’re no worse off than you were a minute ago when you were going to wing it.

As I’m writing this, it’s 97 degrees outside at PAO. Which brings me to question #3: You just landed at LVK today to grab a quick lunch, and when you try to start the engine to return to PAO you can’t get it to start. What is the first action you should take?

While this may seem off-topic, the point is that the AFM is required to be onboard the aircraft for a reason, and it’s a valuable resource at your disposal. When time permits, use it!  It just might help you get your alternator to reset, or help you plan a landing with a flat tire. And if your flight is uneventful as the vast majority are, it can help you remember how to get a hot or flooded engine started this summer after that $100 burger.

Lloyd Stephens, Aircraft Owner and Board Member WVFC


Beyond Harris Ranch

It’s not as if the weather hasn’t been good enough for flying already this year, but the really good flying weather is coming up as we approach summer, and it’s likely you may want to have some destinations to fly to.  As we all know, the “$100 hamburger” is just a justification for a flight, with a little food thrown in.

In an effort to provide you with a little information about destination restaurants, the Club just recently signed up for a membership for you with Fly In, Dine Out (  FIDO is designed to tell you locations of restaurants at different airports, whether they are on the field or, if not, how far they are from the field.  You can access this site by clicking on the link to their webpage, then click on “Member Login.”  Your club authorized e-mail is, and your password is WVFC1901.  (This info is also on the Club’s website.)  I didn’t find their site particularly easy to use, and somewhat lacking in information that I might want to know, like hours that the restaurants are open.  I thought it might be nice to share with you a few of the places that I have flown to that make good destinations for meals or other interests.  By now you probably know that you can fly to restaurants at Half Moon Bay, Watsonville, and Harris Ranch, but here are a few other places that you may not have visited:

San Luis Obispo (KSBP)  This is one of my all time favorite destinations for lunch, or more, at the Spirit of San Luis restaurant located right on the field.  It is quite elegant and the prices are not exactly low, but they’re not exceptionally high either.  It’s open 7 am to 8 pm, Sundays from 9 am.  You can check out their menus on this site:  but there is a plethora of very good restaurants in town, as well, and it’s an interesting place to browse.  The problem is getting there.  The last time I tried it, the bus only came 3/4 of a mile from the airport, so you pretty much have to take a cab or rent a car.  If you are going to do that, you might even consider spending the night at Morro Bay, where you could check out Morro Rock or Montaña de Oro State Park, or go down to Pismo Beach.  It’s about 50 miles up the coast, but Hearst Castle is also a popular destination.  This time of the year the poppies are decorating the hillsides in the area, so it’s really pretty flying in.

Santa Rosa (KSTS)   Another great destination for lunch or dinner is the Sky Lounge Steakhouse & Raw Bar right at the airport.  Park at the Santa Rosa Jet Center (Kaiser Air) parking area north of the terminal building and walk over to the restaurant.  They’re open for BL&D 365 days/year from 8 am to 9 pm.  They have a sushi bar and serve a lot more than just steaks.  Sarah says that everything they serve is wholesome, local and fresh.  They also have a nice patio where you can sit outside right next to the terminal ramp when the weather is good.  

The folks at the SRJC are very friendly.  If you decide you want to stay the night their fuel is less expensive than some other places and they will waive the $10 tiedown fee with a fuel purchase.

Petaluma (O69)   The Two Niner Diner, right on the airport, has been a favorite breakfast/lunch destination of pilots for a long time.  Although there have been reports of some problems with service, owner Dan Kelly said he has hired some new waitresses and has been working to resolve these issues.  I was there for lunch on May 1 and both the club sandwich and service was good.

Willows (KWLW)   I would be remiss in not mentioning Nancy’s Cafe at the airport in Willows, just off Interstate 5 between Sacramento and Red Bluff.  Nancy’s has long been a destination restaurant for pilots, and also a favorite food stop for travelers in both directions on I/S 5.  Not much to look at from the outside, the inside is rustic with an aviation theme.  The menu is pretty much traditional American food.  Not what I would call gourmet, but tasty, nonetheless, and pretty reasonably priced.  And yes, they do have burgers (with Certified Angus Beef) but, hey, go for it--you can have a New York steak sandwich for only $9.99.  They are open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.  You can see all their menu items and read about their history at: 

Modesto (KMOD)   Yeah, I know who wants to fly to Modesto for lunch.  Well, I seem to like to do practice instrument approaches out in the central valley and Modesto is one of the places I do that.  So, if you get tired of flying around, you might try stopping for lunch at Huckleberry’s.  No, it’s not on the airport, but it’s only a mile away, so here’s the deal:  take a right turn off of 28R and go to Sky-Trek.  You will probably have to purchase 10 gallons of fuel for them to waive the ramp fee (but you get to credit this to your account at WVFC).  They have three crew cars and, subject to availability, they will give you one to go to lunch.  They will also give you directions (it’s not too hard--turn left out of the airport onto Mitchell, go to Yosemite, turn right, Huckleberry’s is on the left).  (The folks at Sky Trek try to treat everybody well, whether you fly in a Cessna Skycatcher or a G650)  Huckleberry’s is sort of a log cabin kind of restaurant with a little Cajun flair, but the food is reasonably good.  

Fresno Chandler (KFCH)   Chandler was Fresno’s main airport until 1947, when they opened Fresno Air Terminal, but is now exclusively used by general aviation. The terminal building, and some of the surrounding buildings, were built during the mid to late 30’s by WPA, and are considered to be some of the best remaining examples of architecture of that period.  The terminal itself was built in 1936-37 in the Streamline Moderne style.  It has an Art Deco interior and Beau Arts style lampposts outside.  Although it doesn’t blow you away, it is like stepping back in time.  There is a breakfast/lunch cafe in the terminal: Tailspin Tommy’s.  Don’t expect gourmet food, but it’s not bad and the cafe does have its charm:  they are closed Sunday and Monday, 10 am to 2pm Tu-Th, and 7-2 Fr & Sat.  For more on the historical aspects of Chandler Field:  

Hawthorne (KHHR)   I used to fly into Hawthorne from time to time when I went to LA.  It was a sleepy little GA airport with a nice little Cafe, Nat’s, and a Flight Service Station right next to transient parking, which was $4/night.  They also had pretty low cost fuel.  Times have changed.  Millionaire came in and took over the whole field and tried to develop it as an alternative to LAX for business jets.  Prices went up--a lot (but haven’t they everywhere).  Millionaire has now morphed into Jet Center Los Angeles and Nat’s is gone.  In its place is a sparkling new restaurant, the Eureka Tasting Kitchen, part of the Eureka restaurant chain.  You can read about it here:  For me, Hawthorne was a good alternative to some of the other LA Basin airports because you can walk out of the terminal, take a couple of left turns, walk over to the other side of the runway, and you are at a Metro Station where you can go Downtown or, in the other direction, down to Manhattan Beach.  Although the Jet Center says they are GA friendly, they do have a $30 facility fee and tiedowns are $30/night.  The facility fee is waived if you buy a minimum of 15 gallons of fuel (even from the self-serve island), and you get 1/2 off the first night’s tiedown fee.  (When it was Millionaire I was able to convince them to give me several nights tiedowns for half off, but no telling what the Jet Center folks would say.)  It’s still a better deal than Santa Monica.  They do have some restaurants there, as well (Typhoon in the terminal building, and the Spitfire Grill across the street), but you will be paying a landing fee of $5.48 per each thousand pounds of certificated gross weight, or part thereof, in addition to any tiedown fees.  (They actually have a company, Vector Aircraft Solutions, that takes photos of departing aircraft and then they bill the registered owner--so maybe not the best idea in a flying club plane.)

I was recently asked if I knew any good place to fly to for a nice romantic weekend.  I immediately thought of the Benbow Inn near Garberville.

Garberville (O16) Garberville is about 188 nautical miles to the NW of Palo Alto, a bit inland from Shelter Cove.  The Benbow Inn is not too far away and, if you stay there, they will pick you up at the airport.  The Inn is an historic Tudor style hotel (almost more of a bed and breakfast) located on the Eel River.  It would be hard to find a place much more romantic.  It has been years since I stayed there, but it was a really pleasant and unique experience.  You can find out much more than I can tell you on their website:   

Before I go, there is one more restaurant that I’d like to tell you about, and that’s the Proud Bird, located just off the arrival end of Runway 25L at Los Angeles International (KLAX).  No, I’m not suggesting that you fly in to this one, except on a commercial flight, and it’s nowhere near the terminal building, but if you have an interest in aviation history (most pilots do) and a good appetite, you should go there for lunch or dinner.  They have a yard full of aircraft, both actual and mock-ups, and you can watch the big boys land on the LAX south runways from your table.  The food is very good, but the real attraction, which is not emphasized on their website, is the absolutely amazing collection of historical aviation and space photographs displayed on every wall in the restaurant.  You could spend three days in there and not see all of them. It’s almost more of an aviation museum than it is a restaurant.  They even have private rooms dedicated to various aviation heroes.  If you go for dinner between 4 and 6 you can order from the “Early Bird Special” menu (it’s under “sunset menu” on their website), and save quite a bit on the bill.  Check it out:

Happy Flying


Lindell Wilson, WVFC CFI

Decision Making – Evaluating Risk

Good decision making involves managing and minimizing risks before and during each flight. Common risks include pilot related (human factors) and environmental (airport, weather, night/day, aircraft, etc.) or some combination of both.  Many risks can be identified before the flight, however unexpected risks may exist or develop before or during the flight. In all cases, identifying the risk and then choosing a course of action to minimize the risk is always the best practice.

The FAA Pilot Handbook is a great source of information regarding Aeronautical Decision-Making including how to identify risks. Chapter 17 lists these Steps for Good Decision-Making;

1. Identifying personal attitudes hazardous to safe flight.

2. Learning behavior modification techniques.

3. Learning how to recognize and cope with stress.

4. Developing risk assessment skills.

5. Using all resources.

6. Evaluating the effectiveness of one’s ADM skills.

In the same chapter, figure 17-1 illustrates the percentage of accidents as they relate to different phases of flight. Interestingly, the accident percentages are highest for takeoff/initial climb 23.4% and for landing 24.1% phases.

Below is a list of some of the elements pilots should evaluate for possible risks prior to takeoff/initial climb. There are other risks, so add your own.

1.     Aircraft performance, weight and balance, takeoff roll, climb rate, density altitude, avionics programming

2.     Weather, wind direction and speed, temperature, visibility, day/night

3.     Airport terrain, obstacles, runway length/width/slope/surface

4.     Human factors, pilot psychology, sleep, stress, external pressures, food, passengers, situational awareness.

We can learn from accidents at KPAO. Here is a snap shot of some takeoff accidents found on the AOPA Airports directory. Can you identify the risks?

KPAO, Beech 23, August 23, 2011

On August 23, 2011, at 0940 Pacific daylight time, a Beech A23-24, N5779V, experienced a total loss of engine power and the Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) landed the airplane on a dirt road 2 miles north of Palo Alto Airport, Palo Alto, California. The CFI and student pilot operated the airplane under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The airplane was substantially damaged, and neither the CFI nor student pilot were injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The local instructional flight originated at the Palo Alto Airport around 0830.

The CFI related to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator that after the eighth touch-and-go landing, and while in the pattern flying upwind, the engine began to lose rpm and then quit when they were 300 feet above ground level (agl). The CFI identified a dirt road and landed the airplane. During the landing roll, the left wing tip struck a tree and spun the airplane off the road and into a field of tall grass next to the road.

KPAO, Cessna 172

The certified flight instructor (CFI) reported that the student pilot, who was seated in the left seat, was performing a short field takeoff. The CFI said that during the takeoff, the airplane yawed left dramatically and became airborne in a nose-high attitude. The CFI reported that she took control and "pushed" forward on the yoke and regained control of the airplane; however, in the process, the airplane collided with an anemometer pole. The CFI reported that she was able to continue the flight, entered a non-standard pattern for the runway and landed without further incident. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the horizontal stabilizer; damage was also noted to the right wing. No pre accident mechanical deficiencies or anomalies with the airplane were reported.

KPAO, Cessna 172, January 9, 2009

The pilot reported that after takeoff, and during a left turn, he heard a sudden change in the engine sound followed by a loss of power. He stated that he increased and decreased the throttle with little response from the engine and elected to make a precautionary landing onto a nearby levy. During the landing roll on the levy, the airplane veered to the right, exited the levy, and nosed over in a bog. Both wings sustained substantial damage. Examination of the engine revealed that the oil pump/tachometer drive gear separated from the base of its driveshaft. Metallurgical examination revealed that the oil pump drive gear failed at the intersection of the shaft and gear. Scanning electron microscope images of the fracture showed raised and flattened areas typical of contact damage during cyclic loading. The cause of the fracture was not determined.

See Additional information at AOPA Safety Advisor – Mastering Takeoffs & Landings


Dave Fry, WVFC CFI and Aviation Safety Counselor

Of Atmospheric Impellers and Pasta

(The Spaghetti’s in the Fan Again)

Mostly, we don’t think of things like autopilots as essential equipment, nor do we consider an autopilot failure as an emergency.  Like everything else in the world of aviation, a lot depends on context.  Murphy, for example, asserts not only that if anything that CAN go wrong will do so, it will go wrong at the worst possible time.  And therein lies our story.

Departing Hayward in a Pilatus on a charter flight to Napa, then on to Redding (there to spend the night – Oh, joy!) and return, our intrepid pilot and unwitting passengers are climbing through 400 feet, starting the crosswind turn, and getting the call from Hayward Tower, “Contact Oakland Tower”.  At this point, the brakes have been tagged lightly, the gear is already up, and the Yaw Damper button has been pressed, and everything is under control.  Actually, it isn’t – Murphy has already arrived, and the pilot notices the lack of a YD display on what I call the Command Line of the Attitude Indicator – meaning that the Yaw Damper button push didn’t actually turn it on.   Simple fix, push it again, press the frequency flip-flop button on the number 1 comm, and listen to get a word in edgewise on Oakland Tower.

At this point, the pilot notices that not only does the YD not appear, Murphy has provided a pair of bonuses – scorched insulation smell, and a red PTRM notice on the Command Line as well as a red TRIM light on the Autopilot.  Not Good.  Red lights in cockpits pretty much mean something bad.

At the same time, the cotton-picking, finger-licking, chicken-plucking Autopilot voice (Bitching Bertie) at two second intervals starts yelling, “Autopilot, Trim.”  Meanwhile, the Pilatus is climbing toward Charlie and Bravo airspaces at around 2,000 FPM with no autopilot to cause a level off, and heading forward toward Charlie at about 150 Kts, so there isn’t a lot of time in which to do SOMETHING.  And, oh by the way, our pilot better get the flaps up before busting the max flap speed of 163.  Pushing the nose down, pulling the power a lot, and snagging the flap lever into the UP position, the pilot manages to make a call to Oakland Tower, but Bertie is still screaming “Autopilot, Trim”, overriding 75% of what Oakland had to say– and of course, there’s no volume control on Bertie.  The pilot does hear something about following 580, but in his rattled mental state, doesn’t consider that 580 actually goes two directions, so he hangs a right to head away from all the problems and starts flying toward Stockton rather than toward Oakland.  Oakland Tower, of course is as confused at this point as our pilot, and politely asks our pilot what he’s doing.  Only half of which the pilot hears since Bertie simply won’t bloody shut up.

Unbelievably, there is actually a bit of good news, the Autopilot hasn’t tried to run away, and the plane hasn’t pitched either up or down like crazy.  Too bad, that’s a problem the pilot gets trained on every year – he can find and pull the Pitch Trim Circuit Breaker with his eyes closed.  Dredging into long-term memory, the pilot vaguely remembers that there IS an Autopilot Circuit breaker, but that knowledge doesn’t include the location of the aforementioned CB (Its on the second row of CBs aft of the center of the opposite wall of the cockpit – a VERY long reach for the pilot, but this bit of knowledge won’t bubble to the surface until after the plane is parked).  There is a solid bit of memory that says the AP is on the Avionics 2 bus, so Mr. Intrepid turns off Avionics Bus 2.  Good news, it gets quiet; Bertie is dead.  Bad news unfortunately is Comm 2 and Nav 2, the pilot’s HSI, and Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS) 2, which for some unknown reason is (was) driving the pilot’s Attitude Indicator, are also dead.  Fortunately, there are still three ways of determining where UP is – a “peanut” gyro, which in IFR is about as useful as …well, it’s not very useful, the Attitude Indicator on the copilot’s side, which in IFR makes for a seriously honked up scan, and the real-world horizon out the front window.  Good news it was VFR!

At this point the pilot has applied for a name change and has claimed the title of Mr. Flustered, just barely managing to keep from busting his assigned altitude.  However, radio comm with Oakland is now working and Oakland hands the flight off to NorCal Approach.

Things are getting better now; the pilot gets a higher altitude and a Class Bravo clearance, so airspace is no longer an issue.  There are only a few clouds between the plane and where the pilot thinks Napa is hiding.  Successfully locating Napa, logging the ATIS and getting the hand-off to Oakland Center then Napa Tower all go like clockwork – fortunately not the type with the little bird that pops out.  Until, that is on the approach, the pilot notices that there is no Angle of Attack indication, which is the normal means of determining approach speed.  That went away with the demise of Avionics 2.  Attempting to think of a word of greater than four letters our pilot flies final at 90 KIAS, knowing that he’s going to float a LONG way down the runway, but accepting the risk as preferable to coming in too slow in a plane with lots of weight and momentum.

After a very nice (if long) landing, the pilot taxis to transient and lets the (to this point) unaware passengers know that he’s got a few things to sort out before boarding the other people and heading up to Redding.  Without going into great detail, let’s just say that there are a lot of hoops through which a pilot flying Part 135 must jump in the case of ANY equipment failure, and unfortunately in this case, not all of them could be negotiated and he had to find alternative transportation for the passengers.  After which, he got to fly the plane solo to Mather for service and a new Autopilot.

So, was any of this an emergency?  Had it been IFR, absolutely YES.  But VFR, it was busier that any of us would like to be, sloppier in terms of altitude, heading, and communication than I would have liked, but it was legal, and even better, it was safe.  What if I hadn’t remembered about the AP being on Avionics Bus 2?

All I can say is that things go wrong in airplanes, and sometimes they aren’t the things we train for specifically.  That’s why it’s so important to understand how things work so problems DON’T become emergencies.


David Vital, Director of Maintenance

Hot Start

Happy Spring to all of WVFC. As we move into the hotter months of the year, I would like to bring back the hot starts article. This is to remind everyone of the procedures that seem to work the best for Cessna 172SP’s and most fuel injected engines.

Every year, a number of WVFC pilots are stranded somewhere when they are unable to start a Cessna 172S (or other fuel injected plane for that matter) when the engine is hot.  The typical scenario is a trip for lunch or dinner somewhere, say a 1 hour stop, and then trouble starts when attempting to restart the engine.  The problem is usually a combination of factors. 

The first issue is over-priming when the engine is already warm.  Typically for a hot start, use only a little priming (some engines will start with no priming at all when hot).  Cold engines like a decent amount of priming but warm or hot engines don’t need the same amount of raw fuel to get going.  In fact, what often happens is that this over-priming of the warm engine actually floods the engine with fuel and the fuel/air mixture isn’t right and the engine won’t start. 

A common scenario here is the pilot pumps the throttle trying to get the plane to start and if the mixture control is anywhere but idle/cutoff then more fuel will enter the engine and it definitely won’t start.  What’s called for in this case is a so-called “flooded” start procedure.  A POH may have specific flooded start procedures and if it does then follow it.  Many manuals don’t have a procedure so it’s a good idea to follow a generic flooded start procedure.  Though maybe counterintuitive, the throttle should be placed in the full open position and the mixture at idle-cutoff.  Now turn the key to crank the engine. The effect is to flush excess fuel out of the engine.  During the purging process, at some moment, the fuel/air mixture will be correct and the engine will start.  Next, one has to quickly reverse the controls and smoothly move the throttle to idle and smoothly advance the mixture to rich to keep the engine running.

A second issue with hot starts is so-called vapor-lock in fuel injected engines.  After being run, when a hot engine is stopped the fuel in the fuel injection lines might vaporize and create “bubbles”, called vapor lock, that get stuck in the fuel system.  When it comes time to start the engine, the fuel pressure in the fuel system might not be adequate to push the vapor lock through the system and the engine will not start.  Most fuel injection planes have an electrically driven auxiliary fuel pump.   The pump may be used for take-off and landings and possibly other emergency situations.  One additional use is to help overcome vapor in the starting scenario above.   Again, a POH may or may not recommend the use of the auxiliary fuel pump for a hot start (or may not mention it all) but if you suspect vapor lock, it might be a good idea to try the hot start with the auxiliary pump running.

If there is ever any doubt about whether an engine is starved for fuel or flooded with fuel, assume it’s flooded.  Because adding fuel to a flooded engine is a lot worse than starving an engine that is starved.  If the flooded start procedure doesn’t remedy the situation then it’s OK to proceed with a normal start with some priming.

Starting in May we will go back to club BBQ’s on the last Friday of the month. See you there!


March and April Meeting Report

Spring has sprung and the Bay Area Student and New Pilot Support Group are continuing to provide a great forum for all pilots to share their knowledge of aviation with other likeminded pilots. We are excited about all the things planned for 2014. With the change to a quarterly newsletter we encourage anyone interested in participating in this group to register as described at the end of this article.

March Meeting

The Student and New Pilot group held its March 2014 meeting on Monday March 3rd. We leveraged the experience of all the members of the group with a round table discussion of various aviation applications. Many of the attendees had a favorite aviation application that they wanted to share with the group. We had a great time discussing the features of the many applications and all of us learned about several new tools that can be used to help make flying easier. The following are some highlights of the aviation applications that were shared.

The first application reviewed was AeroWeather which comes in two versions; a free version AeroWeather Lite, and Pro version for $2.99. The features mentioned that were of value include the ability to organize airports into folders for easier checking of weather, e.g. Bay Area airports, vs. Canadian airports. Other nice features mentioned were the ability for the application to display the headwind and crosswind components for the reported winds. Among other information, it also displays sunrise and sunset times.


The group had a lively discussion about the capabilities of FlyQ and ForeFlight. Some of the group members preferred FlyQ’s interface over ForeFlight. They found FlyQ easier to navigate and liked the split screen feature of FlyQ. The FlyQ features for winds aloft and fuel prices were other reasons stated for the preferences. ForeFlight was very popular and group members liked features including the ability to depict entry procedures for non-towered airports, the overlay of IFR procedures, the ability to switch to a satellite view and the feature to display distance and direction between two points on the map. This discussion was a great way to learn about the various features of each of these fine applications from members that had various levels of experience using the tools.

Another favorite application of one of the members is CloudAhoy. This application provides the ability to capture a date for a given flight for review and analysis afterwards. It is simple to use, just start the capture on your iPhone prior to take off then process the data after the flight. You can debrief a flight on an iPad or on the web. One of the members was using this tool to assist with debriefing on instrument training

One other aviation application that was presented was Aviation W&B. This is a $9.99 application that provides an easy way to do W&B for many different types of aircraft. There are hundreds of templates available for most common airplanes and if there isn’t one available, the application allows you to enter the relevant data to create a template. Within this application you can store aircraft specific details such as the basic empty weight for a specific tail number. Doing the W&B for that tail number then is simple as entering the specific weights for the flight. The application displays the CG envelope at takeoff, landing and zero fuel. It is a handy way to do a W&B.

This was one of the more popular meetings where everyone participated in sharing information and everyone learned something new.

April Meeting

The group had a special guest for the April meeting. We were joined by Michael Curtin, Director for Aviation Services at Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Michael is a long time pilot with 39 years of experience. He shared with the group some of his experiences over the many years that he has been flying. He discussed with the group a number of key acronyms that he uses to stay safe including FAST (3-2-3-1), NCMC3, BARDCLAM:DX HUFF. The details of which are posted to the Yahoo Student and New Pilot group site.

Michael also shared his knowledge of corporate aviation. At PG&E, aircraft are used for a couple of key purposes. First, they use their corporate aircraft to move people to work. They have several projects underway in the San Luis Obispo and Arcata where they need to transport people to those work locations. They use their Embraer Legacy for that purpose as they make trips from KOAK to and from KACV and KSBP. They also use aircraft for inspecting and monitoring their network of electric and gas transmission lines. Some of their locations are very remote like their hydro facilities where only a helicopter can get to. He has some pretty amazing pictures of these locations.

Regarding corporate aviation, Michael indicated that pilots typically will have more than 3,500 hours of flight time as a minimum qualification. More important than the hours, is the pilot’s ability to fit into the culture of safety. They have been evolving their safety management system to achieve the next level of certification. This is a common theme that we also heard in a previous meeting about corporate aviation.

Michael discussed some of the innovative practices that they have developed including their transition from helicopter platform work to long line for power line maintenance. Anyone recently driving across the San Mateo Bridge may have seen workers being towed on a long line underneath a helicopter to work on the power transmission towers. This practice was innovated and refined at PG&E.

Michael invited the group to come out to their Oakland based airport operations for a tour of their facility and their Embraer Legacy. In addition, he invited the group to come up to the Nut Tree airport, KVCB, where they staff their helicopter operations center. The group was pleased with the hospitality that he shared.

When asked what was the one thing that he hears on the radio that make him cringe.  His response was very relevant. What makes him cringe is when a pilot is not commanding the flight. He stressed that the pilot is PIC for a reason and that our job is to take control of the flight. He emphasized the importance of making ATC work for the pilot and not the other way around. It was a great observation to cap off the evening of fascinating information.

Coming Up

A key benefit to this group is the opportunity to share information and meet other pilots.  We invite any interested pilot to attend our next meeting.  The group meets in various locations between the San Carlos and Palo Alto airports so please subscribe as detailed below so you will get the latest information.

We have a number of great topics lined up for the next three months. We will be expanding our topics to include areas on instrument flying. Look for the following topics and more for the next couple of months:

·       Traffic alerting systems – how they work and the differences between them

·       Instrument charts – Jeppesen vs. NACO – what are the differences? Advantages and disadvantages?

·       Aviation fuel – hear from a knowledgeable subject matter expert on aviation fuel and what alternatives for 100LL are on the horizon

·       Safety Pilot – best practices and procedures

·       ELTs and PLBs – what are the differences, advantages. The history behind these life saving devices and future regulation changes

·       The Private Pilot checkride – hear about a recent members experience with their checkride and how they prepared

·       Aircraft ownership – things to know about purchasing an aircraft from members that are owners

Everyone, whatever and wherever they fly is welcome. In addition to some tasty pizza and beverages, you will have a great chance to meet your fellow pilots in an informal setting.

To subscribe to this group, please email: The presentations from past sessions are posted on this group site.

Please contact or  if you would like additional information.


Flyout to Westover, Amador County (KJAQ)

We had a fabulous flyout on Saturday Feb. 22 to Westover Field in gold country near Sutter Creek.  The weather was spring like with warm temperatures in the upper 60’s, light winds and 100 mile visibility.

The Hotel Sutter (our plan B as Susan’s said they could not accommodate a large group) sent a hotel sized van to the airport promptly at 12:15 to pick us up for our 12:30 reservation.  The food was delicious and the service extra friendly and personable.  Our group of fourteen then headed out to the quaint little town to explore the treasures in the cute little shops along Main Street.  But first, Stacey, a new pilot and I were off to find our afternoon espresso.  With drinks in hand we enjoyed the afternoon sun strolling around with various members of our group. The ice cream and chocolate was also sampled and savored along the way.

Sutter Creek, just two miles from the airport is really worth a visit for lunch, dinner, or an overnight.  Many of our group members had never been there, but I am sure they will return again.  It is definitely worth the quick flight from the Bay Area.

In attendance:  Pat Gregory, Jeanne McElhatton, Marjorie Johnson, Leslie Ingham, Sue Ballew, Steve Green, Stacey Patton, Carol Munch, Bogdan and Raluca Gorbanescu, John Jacob, Jim Blum, Rich Moriarty, and Randy Sahae.


Flyout Santa Barbara (KSBA)

Saturday, March 16, 2014, close to 30 dedicated aviators braved the severe blue skies and calm winds for a glorious flight to Santa Barbara for lunch. Planes came from San Carlos, Palo Alto, San Jose and Reid Hillview carrying six 99s, several of Sue Ballew’s students and friends, and six Santa Clara Airmen. It was a very International gathering with pilots from Romania, Australia, Sweden, Germany, and the USA of course—Florida.

Everyone met at Atlantic Aviation on the SBA airport where we were greeted and treated very well. It’s a short walk from there to the Beach Side Café, right on the ocean in the Goleta Beach Park. The restaurant was ready for us and the food was excellent! We were able to sit in the covered atrium looking out at the golden beach and crystal blue waters lapping the shore. Families frolicked in the surf and an ancient boardwalk jutted out into the ocean inviting us to walk on it after lunch—which we did. I had Sparky (my husband) riding with me and it was a real treat because Stacey has just moved her from Florida and is now firmly indoctrinated into the amazing California sunshine flying weather, while learning the terrain. This is always one of our most popular flyouts. We actually saw Oceano airport—a truly rare event due to coastal fog. Be sure to join us next year!

- Pat Gregory


Oroville (KOVE) – April 19th – The Joy of Fly-in (Flyout)

One of the greatest joys in aviation is the liberty to see the world from above. Ask a pilot about her adventures and you’ll get stunning pictures of lakes, windmill farms and distant communities on mountain tops, stories of $100 burgers and ravishing shorelines and whale sightings. What a fabulous chance to spread your wings and discover a new community with other aviators!

In April, four planes from RHV, PAO and SQL brought ten adventurers to Oroville. It was a beautiful day! Resplendent with blue skies and wispy clouds, right along an 18-hole golf course that exuded serenity, and a nondescript little café that surprised and delighted its guests with freshly made, excellent food. A culinary delight!

(For those planning to make this trip in the future, make an aviators note to park at the golf course and avoid an adventurous walk through taxiways and bushes…)

Sometimes people don’t want to fly to new locations because—well, they’re never been there. But as with any adventure, you haven’t been there until you have!  And then you can prepare to be delighted by great food, new friends, and a change of scenery.

- Tara Samuels

Upcoming Flyouts:

  • Los Banos June 21st - Black Bear Diner
  • Hayfork July 19th

(Dates and locations subject to change.  Contact Sue Ballew for further information:


Matt Debski, Aircraft Owner WVFC


The CEO of the company I work for sometimes asks me what my dream plane is.  For a while, I've had a ready answer: a Piper Saratoga or Cherokee 6.  My wife and I currently own an Archer and Cessna 182 online with WVFC.  We recently welcomed our second son to our family.  So, thinking out a few years, those are great planes for my family.  Within those model lines, there is plenty of variety: turbocharged or normally-aspirated, retractable or fixed gear.  The planes have more room for larger kids and the stuff we'd haul around as a family.  With four people and full fuel, there'd still be plenty of available weight for luggage.  Depending on how fast you want to get where you're going, the range is between 800 and 900 statute miles.  All in all, perfectly reasonable planes.  Indeed, they’re something within the realm of possibility in terms of what we might be able to one day afford.

But is a "reasonable plane" really a dream plane?  My family belongs to the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, next door to the WVFC office.  One of the exhibits there is a Grumman HU-16 Albatross.  The plane was purchased by a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, extensively refurbished and modified to make it into a flying yacht, and then flown around the world.  While peering inside one day, I figured that this Albatross is a dream plane.  There’s plenty of room to stretch out, a head with a shower, and a galley.  The Albatross at Hiller is a truly one-of-a-kind machine, having been resurrected from the Arizona desert and made into the vision of its owner.  Not something that I'm likely to own in my lifetime but definitely worthy of dreaming about.  Nevertheless, the Albatross comes from a long line of Grumman flying boats.  A Grumman Goose might be more realistic, but still dreamy.  The Goose is a much smaller aircraft but still can seat eight people.  It’s a good enough design that as recent as 2007 there were plans to produce new Geese.  So, should my ship come in, perhaps it will be a flying boat.

Along similar lines, one of my dreams is building an airplane with my two sons.  I'd like for them to be old enough to actually help in construction, but not so old that we can't finish and fly the airplane before they head to college.  Having read about the Van's RV-10 in an issue of AOPA Pilot a number of years ago, that had been the plane I thought would be perfect to build.  A four-seater, it means the whole family can fly together.  The specs on the plane are impressive: with a 235 hp engine it cruises at just under 200 mph on 14 gph.  The amount of money spent helps to determine the comfort of the interior and the snazziness of the avionics.  It really looked like a great plane to build.  This past summer, though, I met a few folks at Oshkosh who were building an RV-10.  They seemed to be enjoying it and making good progress, but were a little more than slightly frustrated by the fiberglass work.  Hearing their tales, I began reconsidering whether the RV-10 was my dream homebuilt.

Fortunately, Oshkosh is a great place to be looking into homebuilts, and someone suggested I check out the Sling 4. The Sling 4 is a nifty plane: it has a 115 hp engine, but it's turbo-charged.  This means that it gets 120 knots cruise, but at 6 gph.  It's a metal plane, so there's no fiberglass work.  And one of its claims to fame is that the design has been flown around the world.  So, the Sling 4 is now at the top of the list of a dream home built.  Maybe a Lanceair, which are super-nice, fancy aircraft, would be a better dream homebuilt, but we'll start with something simple and work our way up.

I'm sure that by the time we're ready to start building our dream homebuilt, the market and technology will have marched on.  So, we'll just have to go back to Oshkosh several times between now and then to keep abreast of the market!

CIRRUS FATAL ACCIDENT RATE STATISTICS (reproduced with permission from Cirrus Design)

After several years of tweaking training programs, Cirrus reports that the fatal accident rate for its aircraft has dropped dramatically in the past couple of years and is now measurably below the fatal accident rate for GA as a whole. At the Aero show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, the company’s Travis Klumb told assembled journalists that both the overall rate and the fatal accident rate has reached all-time lows for both the SR20 and SR22.

In this podcast (/podcast/Podcast-Cirrus-Reports-Dramatic-Accident-Reduction-221837-1.html), Klumb said as recently as 2004, the Cirrus fatal accident rate was about twice the industry average at 2.6/100,000 hours. In 2013, the Cirrus fatal rate had dropped to 1.01/100,000, below the industry average of 1.2.  Klumb said 2014 is looking similarly promising, with initial data showing a rate of .56/100,000.

Why the turnaround? Klumb said there are at least two reasons. One was that Cirrus, model-wide, experienced a higher-than-average accident rate when it was first introduced simply because it was a new airplane that pilots weren’t familiar with. Second, usage patterns indicate that Cirrus aircraft aren’t used much for recreational flying, but for transportation and that means flight in challenging weather. “These pilots are flying complex missions for long distances, a lot of weather and a lot of different types of terrain. But it’s still the same type of pilot who would normally fly around the traffic pattern so it’s a more challenging mission,” Klumb said.

During his presentation, Klumb said Cirrus has made substantial revisions in its training for new owners at the factory and these changes are shortly to be fielded to Cirrus owners at large through the company’s well-established Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot program. Further, Cirrus is engaging its owners with suggestions on paths they might pursue for personal improvement and the company is connecting owners with experienced mentors.

The Cirrus CAPS parachute system has also figured in the accident turn around. When the Cirrus aircraft first appeared, there was almost no reliable experience base in how to train pilots in deciding how and when to use the parachute. Since then, the company has incorporated CAPS decision-making in its standard training package. Cirrus’ Todd Simmons said there have been 40 CAPS deployments in the 5600-aircraft Cirrus fleet, which recently hit the six million fleet-hour mark. “Eighty seven people are alive today that, by all measures, would otherwise not be,” Simmons said.

Improvements in training may yet drive down the accident rate further. Cirrus said two out of every three fatal accidents could have been prevented with timely CAPS deployment.


Max Trescott, WVFC CFI


For pilots flying the Cirrus SR20 and SR22—and for those who want to transition into these fun-to-fly airplanes—I’d like to share a few tips. They are fresh on my mind after teaching all weekend in Concord, California at the most recent COPA CPPP.

COPA is the Cirrus Owner Pilots Association, the type club for Cirrus aircraft. If you fly Cirrus aircraft or are interested in them, I strongly recommend you join. Here’s why. Pilots who actively participate in COPA have a Cirrus accident rate that is just one-quarter that of non-COPA members. There’s no way to know if that’s because only the most safety-conscious pilots join COPA.  And certainly, just mailing in your $65 dues won’t make you any safer. Actively participating means posting on the COPA forum and/or attending COPA sponsored seminars and training programs. There’s a wealth of information to be gleaned from their web site at And if you’re a CFI, you can join for just $35/year.

CPPP stands for the Cirrus Pilot Proficiency Program. COPA introduced CPPP in early 2002 and over 350 COPA members attend each year. It’s a weekend long course held at locations around the world. The three closest locations are Concord, Van Nuys, and Las Vegas. Attendees can attend the ground portion for $600, or a combined ground plus flight program for $1400.

Here’s tip number one. In a Cirrus, don’t reverse the direction of travel of the flaps while they are in motion. For example, if you meant to set the flaps to 50%, but accidentally turned the flap lever to 100%, wait until the flaps reach 100% before selecting 50%. If you reverse the flap direction while the flaps are in motion, sometime a relay will fail, causing the flaps to freeze in one position.

During a power-off stall recovery at this CPPP, a SR22 pilot I was flying with raised the flaps from 100% to 0% and then remembered that he should have just raised them to the 50%. Instead of waiting for the flaps to reach 0%, he immediately moved the lever back to the 50% position, where the flaps froze. He’d owned the airplane for seven years and this had never happened to him before. Yet the problem is so common that many SR22 owners carry spare flap relays with them! Coincidentally, two hours later, an SR22 owner visiting Concord from Orange County asked me where he could get his flaps repaired as they became stuck while he was preflighting his plane for the trip home!

Here’s tip number two. On each flight, review the checklist for at least one emergency procedure and system malfunction. If you do that consistently, you’ll amass knowledge on how to handle the unexpected.

I find when I ask pilots about emergencies, they will often talk through what they would do and maybe mention the checklist at the end. Even if you prefer paper checklists for preflight and start up as I do, you’ll probably discover that you can find a Cirrus emergency checklist fastest by using the electronic checklists in the MFD (Multifunction Display). Invariably when pilots talk me through emergencies, they forget at least one step that they would have taken if they’d only gone to the checklist.

Here’s tip number three. When running through emergency procedures that require you to pull the Alternate Air knob, such as engine failure in flight, you might want to just touch the knob instead of pulling it. One pilot attending this CPPP thought he was pulling the Alternate Air knob and instead pulled the parking brake knob! The two knobs are similar in shape and are both located near the pilot’s right ankle, where they are very difficult to see. Fortunately after landing with the parking brake on, the aircraft didn’t blow a tire, though it did come to a stop on the runway.

The Cirrus SR20 and SR22 are my favorite aircraft and West Valley now has the least expensive SR20 for rent in the S.F. Bay area.