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2018 Q3 Newsletter


Steve Blonstein, General Manager WVFC

“New” Cessna 152s for WVFC


We’ve all spent the last few years watching the “older” fleet dwindle.  The last of the training Cessna 152s and Cessna 172Ns left the flight line, replaced by shiny, well equipped Cessna 172S, Diamond DA40s, and Cirrus SR20s. These new planes have clean interiors, new paint, modern avionics, and a price point to match. 


There were, and still are, fundamental problems with the older 152/172s. They were generally tired looking, had old avionics, and suffered poor dispatch reliability, due primarily to the age of everything on the plane. They flew less, rented for less, and cost more to maintain than their modern brethren. They just didn’t make economic sense for the owners.  That’s why they all eventually went away.


A few years back, Aviat Aircraft started a program to take Cessna 152 airframes and completely strip and restore them with new everything (except the metal infrastructure/skins).  This meant new instrument panels, new avionics, new paint, new interior, new instruments, new plastic, and a new engine.  The result was a “new” 152.  AOPA purchased two of these planes to promote their “You Can Fly” program.  AOPA recently chose to sell the planes and were looking for a flying club to buy them, and continue promoting the You Can Fly message.  And what better flying club than West Valley to find a home for these bright yellow “new” Cessna 152s.  Meet N102UC and N152UF.  


N102UC is a full IFR platform including an IFR certified Garmin GTN650 GPS, ADS-B with on board traffic and weather.  The engine is almost new, the paint looks great, and the interior is fresh and clean.  All this for $119 per hour.  This enables more economical flight training, which has become more and more elusive over the past two decades.


N152UF is a VFR counterpart of N102UC, looks and flies the same as 2UC but rents for even less at $114. 


Many club members (including me) learned to fly in a 152. It’s truly a classic plane. We’re hoping that both new students and experienced pilots will build experience and find/rediscover the joy of flight in these two beautiful planes.  It should even be possible to take one of these planes over to Half Moon Bay and hit the $100 mark for that hamburger!


Fly Safe.


Jim Higgins, Director of Flight Operations & Safety WVFC


Get Ready….’cause here it comes!


Ok, who else is playing that soundtrack in their head—millennial's need not apply.  


In case you’ve been under a rock for the last couple of months, the SFO class BRAVO is changing.  Everybody thinks it’s a bad thing, but I’m here to sing a different tune (ok, no more songs).  Seriously, the Bravo change has just improved the ease of operations for general aviation on the Peninsula and over San Francisco.  


Now I’m sure that everyone can find something they don’t like about the new Class B layout—it certainly has a few minor bugs in my opinion.  And the transition is sure to be rough.  Charts, GPS’s, MFD’s and grumpy old CFI minds need to be updated.  And I’m sure that some pilots will forget about the change and get that dreaded phrase, "I have a phone number for you to copy.”  Perhaps the hardest thing will be to forget about Stanford Stadium defining the corner of the 2500 shelf.  


But the majority of changes will really help our pilots, especially at San Carlos.  One of the most common Bravo busts historically has been the right downwind departure off SQL Rwy 30.  Even a flight line trainer C172 really had to worry about exceeding 1500’ on downwind.  Now the entire pattern is covered by a 2300’ shelf.  Even for those of you flying the 747 patterns (and you know who you are), the 1500’ shelf doesn’t begin until almost 1 1/2 miles from the runway.  That’s more than halfway to the shoreline!  


So, take the time to learn the new airspace or even better, schedule a lesson with CFI to take a tour of the new space—you’ll be glad you did.


Dave Fry, WVFC CFI and Aviation Safety Counselor


The Plateau and Landing


From time to time, everyone gets frustrated, especially in the learning process.  I recall frequently wanting to bat my head against a wall during my undergraduate (and graduate) days as I tried to wrest a particularly abstruse bit of knowledge from its lair with the frustrating feeling that I’d NEVER get it. My learning had reached a plateau that extended as far as I could see.


At the time, my motivation for pursuing those bits of arcane knowledge had less to do with my fundamental need to understand something, than it was about the certain knowledge that those arcane facts, relationships, and equations were going to be on the next exam.  Later, while working on my MBA, I wanted to learn for more mature reasons, but knowledge was just as elusive, recondite, and occasionally fathomless.  And the plateau extended every bit as far.


And that frustration may leak over into flight training.  OK, scratch the “may”.  I’ve seen, as any flight instructor has, the frustration that students experience when learning to fly (actually, I recall that feeling a couple of times myself). Take learning to land, for example. This usually takes more lessons, more hours, more effort, and generates more frustration and feelings of “I’m NEVER going to get this!” than any other maneuver.  With the possible exception of the Lazy Eight, or most anything involving a helicopter.


HOWEVER, I think there is a difference here.


It seems to me that the “I can’t land this bleepin’ thing” plateau is less a matter of a learning plateau (since the student already knows all the necessary facts and theory) than it is a performance plateau.


It seems to me that there are five factors involved here:

1.  Up to this point, the student has succeeded in learning each maneuver quickly, often on the first or second attempt.  NOBODY gets landings on the first or second try, and since the instructor makes it look as easy as he or she made the other maneuvers look, the student tends to get frustrated.


2.  The maneuvers the student has learned have wider tolerances than the landing has.  Students hold the plane within plus or minus 100 feet during a turn very quickly, but plus or minus 100 INCHES isn't good enough on a landing.  A perfect landing is the equivalent of flying a 360 degree turn without the altimeter needle moving, and a BONK landing is so much more ego damaging than exceeding the tolerance on one of the other maneuvers.


3.  The student is learning something that no amount of direct effort, trying harder, or focusing more intently will result in success (excluding the luck factor).  So, when the student tries harder without success, it can be followed by frustration and the feeling that, "I'm NEVER going to get this".  I particularly love the student that, after a BONK under which I could have driven a semi, says, “I’ve got this.  The next one is going to be GREAT.”  How, I wonder, is that going to happen?  It CAN happen the next time if one goes on the “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,” theory.    But remember whence that quote comes. 


4.  The difference between what the student is doing and what the instructor is doing is small, so step function improvements are unlikely, and progress is seemingly slow and difficult to see.


5.  Often there is learning that occurs during the performance plateau.  Flying, to a great extent is a process of correcting from what you have to what you want.  In order to improve, the student needs to see that difference.  Landings require the student to see in finer resolution than the other maneuvers do.  When the instructor first demonstrates landings, the student sees the demonstration in very coarse resolution, and therefore misses many of the finer but completely necessary points of what the instructor is doing.  Although students simply can't see the difference between what they are doing and what the instructor is doing, they see the difference in the result – BONK vs. squeak.  The instructor's job during this phase is to help the student develop that finer resolution by asking the student to critique various aspects of the previous approach and landing.  When students begin to recognize that they are seeing in finer resolution and are able to initiate their own corrections, there is less of a feeling plateau, and more of a feeling of progress - though not necessarily an immediate increase in performance.   Just because you can see the difference between what you have and what you want doesn’t mean you can make the required adjustment – BONK!  As I know from embarrassing personal experience.


And that’s the performance plateau – you will get it; the plateau actually isn’t flat (whatever it seems) but it starts to get into the entire topic of muscle memory – more about that later.


Lindell Wilson, WVFC CFI

Emergency… Need to land soon?

Recently, I was discussing with our local FAA Inspector about possible future topics for Safety Seminars. After considering several potential topics, we found ourselves focused on emergency landings. The FAA Inspector recalled several recent accidents which involved an emergency situation, followed by a forced landing that resulted in serious injury. I asked why? The FAA inspector said that some pilots, when faced with in-flight emergency situations, decide to land immediately and do not evaluate all their available options. For example, one pilot experienced engine trouble and decided to land immediately in the field below. Well, it turned out that the engine actually was developing partial power and the pilot could have flown several minutes over to an airport located just 5 miles away. The pilot landed in the field, the aircraft was destroyed, and the pilot was seriously injured.

I started to think about how we typically train for in-flight emergencies (simulating engine failure) by pulling the power to idle, best glide, turn toward the best landing spot (or airport), emergency (flow) checklist, etc. Often, we don’t even consider the landing options available to us if we had partial power. 

So, what kind of emergencies might require an immediate landing?  They might include serious time critical problems like control surface /structural failures and in-flight fires.

In most other potential emergencies situations (including engine partial power), the pilot has “at a minimum” the best glide range of the aircraft to select possible landing spots or airports. With partial power, aircraft range is greatly increased giving the pilot many additional landing options and likely several airports.

On your next flight, think about possible emergency scenarios, evaluate your options, then determine your response to the situation. Where are the best landing spots and nearby airports? Are you within gliding range or partial power gliding range?

How can we prepare ourselves for emergencies? PRACTICE


Our May flyout to Minden was cancelled due to ice storms-Yikes!


June flyout - because Castle was at least 105°, we all decided to fly to San Luis Obispo instead – a cool 68°.


Upcoming Flyouts:


Sept – Napa (KAPC)

Oct – Santa Barbara (SBA)

Nov – Shelter Cove (0Q5)

Dec – Watts-Woodland (O41)


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