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2015 Q1 Newsletter

Steve Blonstein, General Manager WVFC

2015 - The Year Ahead

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about some new programs for 2015.

Membership Dues:   We are working on several programs to make your membership dollars go a little further.  If you haven’t already heard, the club now accepts payment by ACH.  This is the process by which funds are taken directly from your bank account.  This saves the clubs credit card fees and in return we will lower your membership dues by $5 per month when you fly 2 or more hours the previous month.  In addition, the $10 Safety Incentive (for flying more than 2 hours), further reduces the membership dues.  You can also prepay your dues for 12 months (and save another $60 per year i.e. $5 per month).  Combine these all together and you can reduce your membership dues to a net of $35 per month.  And on top of that, you receive 1 hour free on our G1000 SIM each month – valued at another $50.

Assessment Return Plan:  Many members will remember the painful process the club went through in 2010, collecting an assessment of $250 per member to keep the club afloat.  Since then, the club has regained a much better financial footing, and we are exploring ways to return some or all of the assessment to those members that had faith in the club and stuck around.  Stay tuned as we develop and implement the plan over the next few quarters.

Fleet Quality:  The 2014 survey indicated that the membership wants a better/cleaner fleet when it comes to some of the older planes.  We are in the process of implementing a plan that will place a new focus on the interiors, avionics, documents, POHs, checklists etc.  We are going to either remove or repair all inoperative equipment, with a goal of no long-term inop. equipment in any of the planes.  We are going to work to reduce the average time between a squawk or observation being written and the time it is actually resolved.  We believe this is an important metric for a lot of good reasons.  We are also planning on requiring most planes in the fleet to receive an annual Wax/detail so that planes can truly shine rather than to continue to oxidize and look dull.

Member Community:  The 2014 survey also highlighted the need that members want more and different ways to connect.  We will be adding staffing resources this year to drive multiple new programs specifically to encourage and enable members to connect in more ways than in the recent past.  At the end of the day, we’re a social club and we need to live and breathe that spirit in order to meet our true goal in the community.

These are just a few of the highlights for 2015.  There are many other programs being developed that we will share as the year progresses.  As always, feel free to stop by and say hi, and give us your two cents as to how to make the club better than it was yesterday.

Safe Flying…


Michael May, Standards Officer WVFC

My Last Day at Home Depot

No, the title of this article is not a mistake. Before I begin to discuss the topic of this quarter’s newsletter, take a minute and watch the video at this link,, or just do a Google search for “My Last Day at Home Depot” and watch the video that’s found (it’s a 35 second long video).

Now that you’ve done that, you may be wondering what this has to do with flying. If we take this video and use it as a starting point for a discussion about safety, we should start by asking a few questions about the scenario in the video.

First, do you think that this was the first time the forklift driver had ever attempted to do this? Ask yourself if you were this person, and you had never attempted this before, how would you proceed? Personally, I would be stopping and checking the clearance on each side, possibly getting a spotter to help me, due to a lack of confidence that the cargo would fit through the aisle. No, this driver seemed quite sure it would fit, indicating he had done this many times before. While we can’t know for sure, for the purposes of this article let’s assume this is true. Based on this assumption it’s logical to conclude that in each of his previous attempts he had succeeded in navigating the narrow passage.

If you were this employee’s manager and saw that this was how the wood pallet was being moved every day, would you recognize the potential safety hazard and do something about it? What if you reported this to your superior but were told that there was no other way to get the pallet from A to B, and that pallets had always been moved this way with no problems? Most of us would like to think that we would stand our ground and insist upon a safer solution, but there are numerous studies that show otherwise. If you’re curious about this do a search for the Milgram Experiment to see what people will do when they are assured by authority figures that something is safe. A real-world example of this tendency can be found in the accident between Pan Am 1736 and KLM 3805 at Tenerife in the Canary Islands, which is still the deadliest aviation accident in human history.

The discussion above demonstrates the importance of creating an environment that encourages reporting of safety hazards without fear of retribution, which the FAA and NASA did years ago by creating the Aviation Safety Reporting System, also known as the NASA form. It also shows the importance of participation. How many people in that warehouse saw that obvious safety hazard and could have helped prevent the accident by reporting it? At WVFC, our method for members to let us know about safety related issues is our Flight Feedback form. Despite the name, it can be used for anything that you feel necessary to bring to our attention, even if it is not flight-related. Examples include tiedown ropes that need to be replaced or checklist pages missing or damaged.

Creating a safe operating environment and promoting a safety culture is not an easy thing and requires the participation of everyone involved. To kick off 2015, the Safety Office is asking for your participation to help us promote safety here at WVFC. It’s something that everyone can contribute to, and that we all benefit from.


Dave Fry, WVFC CFI and Aviation Safety Counselor  

Flying: A Team Sport

The first great step in a pilot’s life is the day he or she takes off without the extra 100 – 250 (or so) pounds of ballast in the right seat and gets to fly solo.  In fact, one of the best things about being a pilot is the independence one has, especially when flying alone.  Some pilots feel the need to fly single-pilot, because of pride, independence, being excessively macho, or some other reason.  I even know people that wouldn’t consider owning a plane that would require two pilots, when a two-pilot plane would match their mission better. 

On the other hand, there are pilots that know they are better when they’re flying with another pilot.  And realistically, that probably applies to almost all of us.  The part about flying better with another pilot, that is, not the part about KNOWING they are better. Clearly, when the spaghetti hits the fan (and from time to time it will), having someone to handle the radios and read checklists can be invaluable.  Among other things, it gives the pilot time to keep the dirty side down and the pointy end forward, and maybe even get the plane where the pilot wants to go.  

Unfortunately, most of us aren’t sufficiently prescient that we can know which flights we need to take someone along with us because things are going to go wrong.  In my 14,000 hours of flying, I have experienced such things as flaps that wouldn’t retract, flaps that wouldn’t extend, cabin depressurization at altitude, gear that wouldn’t lock down, electric systems failure, instrument failure (pick one, it’s rolled over and died while I was flying), a malignant autopilot that tried to do a negative G pitch-over at 400 ft on a coupled approach, a thrust reverser that unlocked during climb out, and an engine failure.  And not once did I have an inkling that bad things would happen before the flight, or even in the final seconds before that system went south.  The good news is that on almost all of those occasions I actually had another pilot in the plane.  Lest some of you think that’s because I’m an instructor and mostly fly with students, I almost always fly with another pilot, even in airplanes with lots of redundancy and automated systems. 

But it does raise the question of how to use the skill and expertise of the other pilot when the spaghetti is NOT in the fan.  The next several paragraphs are ONE way of doing things, though there are (as is often the case in aviation) multiple right answers.  What’s really important is that you sort out the responsibilities before you fly together.

Most commonly, one pilot flies the plane while the other handles the radios and reads the “challenge” part of the checklist and reminds the pilot of the checklist if the pilot doesn’t call for it.  The pilot flying the plane calls for the checklist at each phase of flight, and gives the “response” part of the checklist. 

When in the receiving end of ATC instructions, the pilot handling the radios sets the altitude bug, heading bug, and so on while the autopilot is not engaged, and calls out the values that were just set (or just calls out the values in the case of airplanes without heading and altitude bugs).  The flying pilot then confirms the bug settings. 

When the autopilot is engaged, the flying pilot sets the bugs, and the pilot handling the radio calls out the assigned altitudes and headings, and confirms the values after the flying pilot sets the bugs. 

Before following an instrument procedure, whether arrival, departure, or approach, either the flying pilot or the radio pilot will brief the procedure (the flying pilot determines which one will do the briefing), while the other confirms frequencies, headings, waypoints, airspeeds, missed approach procedures, and altitudes.  And while flying the approach, the non-flying pilot’s focus (aside from the things already specified above) is outside the plane, looking for ground contact and the runway/runway environment.  Experience crew members usually signal when they change what they are doing by calling out such things as, “I’m inside” or “I’m outside.”

The pilot not flying has another VERY important responsibility – to remind the pilot of things that need watching, and it can often be done with a single word.  For example, while on approach, if the non-flying pilot happens to notice the airspeed dropping below the range both pilots have agreed on, the call is, “airspeed”. Similarly, altitude or heading deviations can be dealt with by a simple, “altitude” or “heading”.

The most important calls though, are the ones related to safety, such as traffic calls, or even more importantly, the call to go around.  And as you may imagine, I have a story.  As with all good flying stories, it starts – There I was … 

Flying the Citation VII into Burbank in the mandatory crew environment (since it’s a two-crew airplane), we had performed all the activities up to the final approach checklist, and the flying pilot had done an admirable job on the approach.  Over the previous two years, we had come to expect nothing less – the other pilot had several thousand hours in the Citation VII, as well as being type rated in other Citations, DC-9, 727, 757, and 767, and more hours in jets as I had total hours, and I’d been flying the plane for about 300 hours.  However, as we began the flare, we found ourselves pretty far down the runway and as we approached the half-way point, the non-flying pilot called “go around”, to which the flying pilot responded, “negative” and proceeded to land (and use nearly all of the remaining runway – the VII is slippery, fast, and very unforgiving).  After the flight, we had our normal post-flight debrief as part of our ongoing effort to work better as a crew.  The flying pilot apologized profusely, saying (correctly) that the other pilot could have seen something the flying pilot hadn’t seen, and we agreed that henceforth, if either of us called “go around”, we would do it, no questions asked.

It’s a practice I recommend for all crews.  I love team sports.


Lindell Wilson, WVFC CFI

Finding Best Glide

How many pilots practice finding best glide attitude and speed? If your answer is, only for a flight review or test, consider reading this article.

The best glide is generally the speed where Lift/Drag ratio is maximized, resulting in the best forward distance for altitude lost. The Airplane Flight Manual (AFM after March 1979) includes several graphs or tables illustrating the best glide speed at different aircraft weights and configurations. The best glide is actually a function of Angle of Attack (AoA), but our light aircraft do not have an AoA indicator, so we use airspeed as a substitute. 

What is the best technique to quickly get the airplane to the best glide speed? The key is to establish and hold the right aircraft attitude!

Military pilots learn early in their training (especially in fighters) if the engine fails, PITCH immediately down to a pilot memorized visual (out the window) attitude which approximates the best glide attitude. GA pilots can use this same technique to immediate establish a best glide attitude if necessary. This technique is particularly useful when quick-reaction time is required for example, power loss immediately after takeoff during climb-out. In normal cruise flight, the pilot may choose initially to pitch up to reduce airspeed and momentarily gain altitude as the aircraft trades kinetic energy (airspeed) for increased altitude. The Reno air racers have mastered this technique.  The pilot then establishes the memorized best glide attitude. 

On your next flight, find and memorize the best glide attitude for your aircraft.


David Vital, Director of Maintenance 

What goes into a basic 100 Hour Inspection 

Ever wonder what goes into a basic 100 hr inspection on a WVFC plane? Well this article will give you a brief description of what service is performed during a 100 hr inspection. 

We first perform a thorough engine run up which includes a magneto drop and systems check. 

Next we remove the cowling and perform an oil change. First the engine is solvent washed so it will be easier to inspect. Next we drain the oil.  We take an oil sample of your engine oil at every oil change to monitor wear. We inspect the sump screen for excessive contaminants. Then we replace the oil filter and service the engine with oil. 

We remove the bottom spark plugs and perform a compression test of all the cylinders while the engine is hot. We then verify the engine to magneto timing. Next we remove the top spark plugs from the engine. We clean, gap, and test all spark plugs. We inspect the exhaust and intake system. 

We check all engine controls for operation, security, and lube them.

Next we will closely examine your engine for any signs of abnormal wear or indications of trouble. You might be surprised what we are able to find and prevent from ever becoming an airworthy issue!

We remove the propeller spinner and inspect the bulk heads. We inspect the propeller for nicks and dress the propeller blades. 

We jack up both left hand and right hand main gears.  Next we will inspect all tires and brakes for wear. We service the tires with air per the appropriate maintenance manual. We service the brake fluid reservoir with hydraulic fluid. We then jack up the nose gear. We inspect the tire, torque links, steering mechanism and shimmy damper. We service the tire with air and the strut with nitrogen if needed.

We open all the wing, fuselage, belly and interior inspection panels. Next we inspect all control surfaces including ailerons, flaps, rudder, and elevator. We then lube all control surfaces appropriately. We perform an ops check on all lights both interior and exterior. 

We also check the stall warning horn and the pitot heat function.

We then remove the main battery service the battery and charge it. 

In the cabin of the aircraft we check seats, seat tracks, control yokes, lights, gauges, placards, rudder pedals, pilot and co-pilot push to talks, and lube all controls.

We will next comply with any AD’s that apply during this inspection. Next we will address any squawks or observations that have been reported from the last 50 hours of flight. 

We then proceed to wipe down the belly of the aircraft with solvent, clean the inside and outside windows, and vacuum the interior of the aircraft. We then put the aircraft back together and prepare it for the engine run-up.  We will run the engine and check for any leaks or other signs of trouble. Finally we make appropriate log book entries, update the time in Schedule Master and clear any squawks.

Your aircraft and your safety are our primary concerns!


December, January, and February Meeting Report

The Bay Area Student and New Pilot Support Group kicked off the New Year with a number of great topics. Our group formed in December of 2011 to provide a forum for student and new pilots to share their knowledge of aviation with other likeminded pilots. The group continues to attract new attendees in addition to a core group that have been around since the first meeting. For the latest news and announcements we encourage anyone interested in participating in this group to register as described at the end of this article. The group has also established a MeetUp group for those that want to stay informed of future meeting announcements. The MeetUp group is:

December Meeting

The topic in December was how to use the FAA Wings program to complete the Flight Review requirement. Flight Reviews, per 14 CFR  Sec. 61.56, are generally required every 24 calendar months unless you have completed a new certificate or rating. Usually this is accomplished by getting with a CFI to meet the requirements of a minimum of one (1) hour of ground and a minimum of one (1) hour of flight. What is not widely known is that you can also accomplish a Flight Review by completing a “phase” of the Wings program. Most of us use the Wings program to sign up for FAA Safety Seminars but it seems very few pilots know how those “credits” for attending a Safety Seminar can be used to accomplish a Flight Review. Herb Patten presented to the group how the program works to satisfy the Flight Review requirement. The presentation covered the requirements, which include obtaining a minimum of three Knowledge Credits along with three Flight Credits.  Knowledge credits can be obtained by attending FAA Safety Seminars or taking online courses which are listed on  Flight credits must be done with a CFI. A flight credit is typically a group of tasks that come from the PTS, e.g. normal and crosswind takeoffs and landings, short-field approach and landing, go-around. Once the three (3) knowledge activities and three (3) flight activities have been completed, you will be issued a certificate of completion for a phase of Wings and a corresponding certificate indicating that you have met the requirements of 61.56.

The second half of the meeting was an interactive, Jeopardy style pilot trivia challenge complete with push button buzzers. The group was divided into teams to play Pilot Trivia Jeopardy. Like the game of Jeopardy, a clue is revealed in the form of an answer and participants have to reply in the form of a question. The topics were grouped into interesting categories like Gadgets – clues about navigation devices, or “By the Book” – clues related to regulations and “Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow” for clues about aircraft engines. Responses had to be in the form of a question just like the real Jeopardy show. “Contestants” even got a chance to play Final Jeopardy. This was a great way to mix fun with a review of private pilot knowledge questions. This was such a great hit that we plan to do this again at future meetings with new and more challenging questions.

January Meeting – Skyhawk 123, San Francisco Tower runway 28 right cleared to land
As pilots we enjoy flying around the Bay Area and enjoy the many sights from the air. Certainly one of those sights is flying near San Francisco Airport. As we remain south and west of the Bayshore Fwy we gaze out in awe at the massive airport and watch the likes of United 15 depart runway 1 Right while American 210 heavy lands on 28 Left. We sometimes wonder what it would be like to actually land at SFO and talk about previous reports of a pilot in a small plane landing at SFO. For a number of us, we no longer have to wonder what that experience is like because late night on January 3rd a group of planes actually made that a reality and landed at SFO. Our meeting in January was devoted to a review of that event. 

Stuart Davies started the evening off with his experience of the event. There were a total of twenty (20) planes that participated in the landing at SFO. As you can imagine with this many planes a bit of planning was needed. The evening started out with a briefing at 10:00 PM. The briefing covered a number of topics including PIC responsibilities, safety concerns, the approach to SFO, expected landing clearance, Class Bravo air space operations, surface operations, as well as departure procedures. After completing the briefing, pilots began their walk out to their planes to complete final preflight inspection and get ready for departure. Stuart brought along a number of video and audio clips to share with the group so they could get a sense of flying the approach into SFO. NorCal was the first point of contact after departing from KSQL. NorCal began to vector planes to slot them in to a landing sequence between the dwindling streams of commercial aircraft that were coming in for landing at SFO. Some planes got vectored down toward SJC before being turned back for a long straight in to either 28 Right or Left while some plane got a short cut and were able to get a left base entry to one of the 28 runways. For most pilots, it was a once in a lifetime experience to get the SFO Tower clearance of “Cleared to land 28 Right”. Stuart brought some of the audio feeds from the evening so attendees could hear the ATC communication.

After landing at SFO, all planes were met by a “follow me” truck that marshaled the aircraft to Signature, the FBO at SFO. There was a group celebration at the FBO with snacks that were enjoyed prior to departing to return back to airport of origin. 

As pilots, we are constantly learning and thinking about how to do something better. This experience was no different. For those that participated, we gained the experience of landing at a Bravo airport. We also shared a number of good observations and suggestions for the next time an event like this occurs.

February Meeting

Our February meeting was a discussion about mountain flying. This was a topic that was suggested by one of the attendees from the January meeting. Most flying clubs will require some sort of checkout before allowing members to fly to airports above 3,000 feet. We started the discussion with a review of the various club checkout requirements. We had a number of participants that had completed a mountain checkout and they described their experience, e.g. where they went, what to expect, what aircraft they took and how long it took.

We were fortunate to have Brian Eliot, CFI, in attendance at the meeting since he has extensive experience with mountain flying. Brian walked through a number of factors that need to be considered when flying in the mountains and at high elevation airports. This discussion included a number of the usual topics including aircraft performance, density altitude, weather factors, route selection, survival considerations, and airport operations.

Brian discussed how he has conducted mountain checkouts including which airports he has used in the Bay Area. He talked about some of the more common ones like Truckee (KTRK) and South Lake Tahoe (KTVL). He also discussed some other ones including Alpine County (M45) and Mammoth (KMMH). Mammoth happens to be the highest elevation airport open to the public in California.  Brian shared with the group experiences from multi-day mountain flying trips that groups have conducted to places like Colorado and Yellowstone. For those that were considering getting a mountain checkout, this was a great session.

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.  We meet on the first Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. The group meets in various locations at the San Carlos airport 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 in the coming months:
•    In flight anomalies – learning from the experiences of others
•    The instrument rating – what to think about and when to consider it
•    Insights from the Tower – the perspective from ATC
•    Private pilot aeronautical knowledge test taking tips
•    Instrument charts – Jeppesen vs. Aeronav – what are the differences? Advantages and disadvantages?
•    Aviation fuel – a discussion led by a local subject matter expert on aviation fuel and what alternatives for 100LL are on the horizon
•    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 Herb Patten at if you would like additional information.

WOW – Women of West Valley Flying Club

San Luis Obispo Flyout – November 2014

Another great flyout to San Luis Obispo with fabulous weather.

WOW – Women of West Valley Flying Club

Monterey-Pebble Beach Whale Watching January 2015

With about 25 people and 9 airplanes we had a good turnout and saw some giant whales.


Matt Debski, Aircraft Owner and CFI, WVFC, 

For years I'd driven down 101 past the flashing sign of the Hiller Aviation Museum. Although I claim to be interested in all things aviation related and have traveled across the country several times to Oshkosh, I'd never taken the time to visit. A few years ago I moved to Belmont, almost across the street from the Museum, and finally visited. The museum is definitely worth a visit. If you have kids, you should consider becoming a member! The museum is one of those great places where children and adults can enjoy themselves, with experiences designed for both age groups.

For adults, Hiller has enough exhibits to easily occupy a few hours. As you enter the main exhibit space, there's a large airship that looks like a da Vinci drawing come to life. There are several displays of early airplanes, including a flight simulator of the Wright brothers' Flyer. Stanley Hiller, the museum's founder, was a pioneer of helicopter design. There's an entire wall dedicated to several of his helicopter designs. There's also a helicopter simulator inside one of the helicopters on display. The center of the museum also includes a few examples of gyrocopters.

The main floor is dominated by a Grumman Albatross (the subject of one of my previous newsletter articles), which sits next to L39 Albatross. Both of these planes are great fun to visit on Open Cockpit Day. These occur about every other month. The Albatrosses and other aircraft cockpits are open for visitors to sit in and get a closer look. These are good photo opportunities as well. Next to the Albatross is a wall of dozens of model aircraft including those from early flight, familiar general aviation airplanes, and plenty of commercial aircraft. The rear corner of the museum also features a free flight simulator with limited motion and an example of a very early flight simulator. Finally, there is a wall with several types of aircraft engines, including cutaways of both a turbine and four-cycle engine demonstrating how each works.

The second-floor mezzanine overlooks the main floor and also gives a better view of the aircraft hanging from the ceiling. There are some Burt Rutan planes as well as an example of an early drone or UAV. On the weekend, this becomes the Sim Zone, with PCs setup and volunteers on hand to teach prospective aviators how to fly the Sims. A few dollars gets you thirty minutes in the simulator...quite a bargain.

Outside the museum building is the forward fuselage of a 747. It includes the stairs to the upper-deck and the cockpit. The cockpit of the 747 is always open to sit in the pilot, copilot, or flight engineer seats. The outside also features a small observation deck for watching airplanes doing pattern work for Surf Air coming and going.

In addition to its slowly updating static displays, the museum really shines with it's special events. Major holidays usually include an aviation-involved activity of one of the major characters: Santa arrives by helicopter to a room filled with a community orchestra, a leprechaun parachutes to the taxiway, the Easter bunny does a fly-by in a helicopter, and a witch drops a pumpkin onto the taxiway, previously signed by attendees of the haunted hangar. There's also a Hops and Props beer festival, featuring a wide variety of microbrews. All of the holiday events are included in the price of normal admission.

In addition to holiday events, there are frequently other exhibits on display. Presumably figuring that people interested in aviation love all forms of transportation, there are special model train exhibits throughout the year. These displays fill the museum's large atrium and are worth visiting independent of the aviation museum (if you're into model trains). There's also a model airplane air show, which I regretfully have missed the past few years.

All in all, the Hiller Aviation Museum makes a great place to visit on a day when your lesson is rained out, you feel like exploring a new Bay Area attraction, or you want to treat your kids to a new aspect of your hobby.


Save $60.00 a year on regular dues or on regular family dues.  Prepay your dues for 2015 by February 28th (first 125 members only!).

  • Regular $600
  • Regular Family $240

Interested in saving on your dues? Email to ensure your spot!

*6 Month Minimum Commitment.  Early termination will result in charge for the discounted difference.  Safety incentives still apply.