COMMUNITY OF FLYING
Most members either know or have some idea about how our club is run. It’s classified as a 501(c)(7) California Corporation. Such a corporation has to be run by a board or directors, and in the case of West Valley, the board consists of 7 members. 6 members are elected by the membership (3 at a time during June of each year), and the 7th, the GM position is ex-officio i.e. automatically on the board for as long as he or she is GM.
Historically, interest in serving on the board has varied greatly depending upon the state of the club i.e. during difficult times where the membership is looking for change there will be significant interest in serving on the board, and at other times when the membership feels the club is moving along in a reasonably good direction, there are less people interested in stepping up and serving. But either way, the club needs motivated, interested, and willing volunteers to serve a term (two years) so that we can keep the club moving in a direction that the membership wants, which after all, is what our club is all about. My perception is that many members like the idea of serving on the board, but are fearful that it’s a ton of work, not much fun, and is full of political pitfalls. Thus, many members just assume/hope that the other members will run and everyone looks to everyone else to take care of the situation. That doesn’t work very well and we end up scrambling trying to get members to run.
So let me first cover what the actual commitment is, and then talk about some of the benefits of serving on the board.
On the commitment side of the equation: The Board meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 7 PM for about 90 minutes to 2 hours depending upon the agenda. This probably represents the biggest time commitment you would be making. My experience is that these open meetings are informative and often have good dialog about either specific issues affecting the club or more strategic discussions about where we are heading. They’re not boring meetings and, these days, there’s little or no politics at play. Additional commitments might include the occasional ad hoc meeting (usually via phone) to discuss a certain urgent matter that cannot wait until the next full board meeting. Board members are free to volunteer for other roles in the club but it’s not an expectation.
On the benefit side of the equation: First, you get to actually set the direction of the club. How cool is that? This is one of the largest non-profit flying clubs in the world and you get to have a significant say on where we should go next.
Second, you get board experience. Sitting on a board is both a privilege, carries responsibility, and enables you to work with other similar and perhaps dissimilar thought processes. If you’ve never sat on a board before and want firsthand experience, this is a great resume builder in that respect.
Third, you get to give back to the flying community. West Valley has always prided itself on giving back to the aviation community in so many ways. One of board members was recently heavily involved in assisting with the Women of Aviation event at San Carlos. West Valley members, owners, CFIs, and board members probably donated more time and money to that event than the rest of the clubs combined – something to be really proud of.
Finally, you get your membership dues waived for your term, i.e. 24 months of saving $55 per month ($1320 over 2 years). It’s not a huge amount of money, but every little bit helps these days.
So I hope I have motivated just a few more members to step up and run for a board seat in the upcoming June election. There are no minimum requirements, so just because you might be a student pilot doesn’t mean you’re not eligible to run for a board spot. I’ll look forward to working with some of you in the future, both on and off the board.
From the Desk of the
Jesse Gamueda, Chief Pilot WVFC email@example.com
In an attempt to provide a safer flying culture at the WVFC I am writing this month’s article on instrument flying. Not that a stellar safety culture doesn’t already exist at the WVFC, however my focus this month is going to lead us into IMC.
In a lot of clubs and flight schools all over the United States, it is already mandated that an instrument rating be held to operate some of the TAA or technically advanced aircraft in the club. The fact is, to fly a WVFC TSR-22, you need an instrument rating!
There is something to be said about having the knowledge, skill or insight to operate in a whole new world of flying. I used to hate instrument flying myself until some great instructors from my past demystified the horrors of flying IMC.
West Valley Flying Club has recently acquired a few simulators and has a vast supply of instrument equipped aircraft. We are also offering a free hour of simulator time per member per month.
The beauty of instrument flying is that it is MUCH easier than we’ve been told all of our lives. There are a few simple tricks of the trade that can change your skillsets and abilities while you fly. Some of which are what to focus on, what to omit, what’s important and what’s fluff. These are very important aspects to learning to fly instruments because there a thousand things that you can be taught while undergoing your training.
I know this first hand as the bulk of my students were charter or airline pilots whom had little or no time flying turbine aircraft and could not afford to fly a King Air, Citation, CRJ or 737. So they had to be taught in about 40 hours how to learn to fly these TAA Turbine aircraft. And where did they learn? In the simulator! I know what you’re thinking. The airlines only hire GREAT instrument pilots. While the fact is that the airlines have about a 70% dropout ratio for their new hires because the opposite is true. Even the airline candidates don’t have the skill, insight or knowledge to pass an FAA 121/135 checkride.
So, your next question, how can I have any chance of learning these skillsets if airline candidates cannot? Simple, a good instrument instructor will teach you which instruments to watch, which charts to study, and which symbols to look for. They will teach you profiles, callouts, checklist usage. And all of this can be accomplished in the PTS required minimums!!!! Now of course this applies to someone who comes in 4-5 days a week and has 4-5 hours to study outside of flying a/c or learning the sim. I know that the vast majority of us don’t have that kind of time or commitment. However, all of the requirements can still be accomplished very close to the minimums flying a few times a week. And still you don’t have time to do this. No worries, learning a few simple tricks can make you proficient with very little learning in the simulator.
In reading this article it sounds like I am trying to sell the sims! Absolutely not, they are just a MAJOR contributor to the instrument flying learning environment. In fact, if I had it my way, students would learn their first 10 hours in the simulator before moving to flying the a/c.
I could regale you with tons of information and facts on how much easier it is to learn from an instructor who knows how to teach instruments then from one who is merely trying to accumulate flight time.
Now, I haven’t flown with a lot of WVFC flight instructors, but our instructors as a whole love flight instructing. In fact I was somewhat shocked when I found out what types of careers they gave up to become instructors, (and now I’ve joined the ranks). By NO MEANS have I met “time builders” at the club!
In closing, I feel that taking a look at obtaining the instrument rating should not carry with it the stigma that it does. In fact I encourage you to come down and take advantage of our 1 free hour a month/member at our Palo Alto facility. I would be happy to share with you some of my insights and secrets. Believe me when I tell you that you will be much less scared of IMC after only a few hours of instrument flight training. You can learn a ton about sitting in the sim for a few hours, even if you don’t want to get rated!!
Regardless, it’s always a pleasure to know that there is an audience that likes to read (or maybe not) what we have to say here at WVFC. I hope that this inspires you to come down to the club and just have a look at the simulators, or take a flight with an instructor!
The Hazards of Uncontrolled Airports
Most of us here in the Bay Area have learned to fly at airports with towers, though almost everyone has had some experience in flying into and out of non-towered or “uncontrolled” airports. But what with the closing of a number of towers due to “sequestration,” you may find yourself flying into or out of uncontrolled fields more that you have been accustomed to. It’s certainly no more difficult to fly into uncontrolled fields than controlled ones, but it may take a little more work for you to decide which runway you will use and how to enter the pattern for the field. But not everyone will make the same decisions that you would, and that can create some potential hazards that you need to be aware of. So.....I thought it might be instructive to hear some cautionary tales about some interesting situations that I have encountered at uncontrolled airports.
When they were learning to fly, most folks learned from their instructors that they should land and take off into the wind. At a towered airport they tell you which runway to use, but at an uncontrolled airport you can use any runway you want. Most pilots still land and take off into the wind but, it seems, there is a significant percentage who want to land or take off on the most convenient runway for them, regardless of the wind direction or the direction being used by other aircraft. You need to be very vigilant for conflicting traffic at uncontrolled fields. Here are just a few examples.
The Mammoth airport has an East-West runway. In the mornings the wind generally favors Runway 9 and in the afternoon Runway 27. I was standing on the ramp at the Mammoth airport one afternoon, chatting with the airport line guy, Greg, when a Mooney taxied out to Runway 9. Greg and I were a little concerned because the winds were about 270 at 15 kts with some higher gusts. We decided that maybe we should call the Mooney on the handheld and advise him of this, and suggest that he might consider using Runway 27. He didn’t take too kindly to this, saying that he was headed south and that the runway was downhill in that direction (it was--but only slightly) and he was taking off on 9 regardless of our advice. We watched as he used about two thirds of the 7000 foot runway to take off, but then his climb gradient was very shallow because of his increased groundspeed. Nonetheless, he did make it off safely.
So, given this scenario, you can foresee another incident at Mammoth that didn’t end quite so happily. The winds that afternoon were favoring Runway 27 and I had just landed, following a Mooney flown by a woman who had made very clear and precise radio calls. She was just picking up a passenger and then departing again. As I taxied to the hangar, she announced that she was taxiing to Runway 27. Shortly thereafter a Piper Comanche announced that he was taxiing to Runway 9. At that time you could not see the other end of the runway from whichever end you were at (they’ve since remedied that with a new runway). I thought maybe I should give a call to say that there were departing aircraft at both ends of the runway, but I was just shutting down and thought they would have heard each other and would figure that out. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what happened. I watched as both aircraft departed in opposite directions at the same time. The Comanche pilot had just lifted off when he saw the opposite direction Mooney and panicked. He pushed forward hard on the controls and the plane slammed onto the runway hard enough that the right main gear collapsed. The plane went off the runway in a cloud of dust and ended up against the fence separating the airport property from Highway 395. There were two men in the plane, a father and his son and, fortunately, they got out uninjured and the plane was not too badly damaged. The son, an inexperienced pilot, was apparently flying, and said that he had never heard any radio announcements from the Mooney (though, given what I heard, I think she did announce her departure). The Mooney pilot probably did not even see the Comanche because she, having taken off into the wind, was well above him. All he really had to do was continue and offset a little to the right and she would have passed harmlessly above him.
I have encountered this situation where there is an opposite direction aircraft using the runway a number of times, and I always try to call them on the radio and usually offer to delay my takeoff until they have departed and the runway is clear. This situation can also occur on landing, and sometimes even talking to the other airplane doesn’t solve the problem.
I was landing at Byron one afternoon, following two Cessnas landing on Runway 30. I had called on downwind and, just as the second Cessna was touching down, I announced that I was turning base for Runway 30. At that time a twin announced that he was departing Runway 12. I called and said I was about to turn base for 30, but would extend my downwind if the twin wanted to depart. He said: “Oh, you don’t have to do that. We’re rolling and we will be turning south and be out of your way by the time you turn final.” That turned out not to be the case. I decided to extend the downwind anyway and when I turned final I did so early to avoid being directly in line with the runway, and so I could better see the departing twin. He was only lifting off after I turned onto the extended final and proceeded straight out with no turn to the south until after he passed me. If I had listened to what he said and had not extended my downwind, I would have been looking right at him lifting off Runway 12 as I was on short final for 30. As it was, he passed by me to my left about 150 feet above me.
One of the dangers of uncontrolled fields is that people will fly non-standard patterns, or give incorrect position reports. I have flown frequently into the Nut Tree airport at Vacaville, where the published pattern altitude is 1117 feet. My general procedure is to fly over the top of the field at about 2000 feet and descend to the NW and circle to enter a 45 for the active runway. As I called out my position over the field at 2000 an Eclipse 500 (a small business jet) called that he was downwind for Runway 20. I said I was looking, but did not have him in sight. I continued out about a mile to the NW of the airport and said I was starting my descent and where was the Eclipse? About a mile and a half from the airport, as I started to turn to the left to circle back to the right 45 for 20, I found myself almost face to face with the Eclipse at about 1700 feet just entering (what I would consider to be) the downwind. I don’t think the guys in the Eclipse ever saw me, but they sure weren’t where I expected them to be.
Flying down to Hollister for lunch one day I was following a string of several aircraft entering the left 45 for Runway 31. As I called inbound on the 45 there was a Grumman Goose that reported about 2 miles to the east who said he was going to fly over the field to join the left downwind. I reported turning downwind and he said he would follow me. I was startled to see him coming across the top of the field and turning downwind right in front of me, so close that if the brakes would have slowed me down, I would have been using them. He and I had a little conversation about how he said he was going to follow me and then turned directly in front of me. He apologized and said he thought that I was the aircraft in front of me that I had been following. He apparently didn’t even see me before he turned onto the downwind.
Finally, here’s a cautionary tale for you IFR pilots. In VFR conditions there are no restrictions on conducting practice instrument approaches to uncontrolled fields without obtaining a clearance to do so. In fact, we used to do that all the time at Bishop because there’s no approach control and center can’t see you on radar when you are below about 13,000 feet. When I was over in the Eastern Sierra I would occasionally fly over to Merced to do some practice ILS approaches, because Bishop doesn’t have one. Merced is a pretty quiet airport and, though it does not have a tower, it is served by NorCal approach. Almost all of the aircraft making practice approaches do obtain a clearance from NorCal, mainly because it’s a good practice to do so. Generally, they are not too busy, but occasionally there can be several aircraft conducting approaches there, so there can be some short delays. Merced has several approaches, plus you can practice holding at the El Nido VOR. On the day in question, there were only two of us doing approaches there. Both of us were talking to NorCal. The other aircraft was holding at the VOR as NorCal cleared me for the ILS approach. I was under the hood. Shortly thereafter, the other aircraft said they were done holding and requested another approach. NorCal said they could not approve an approach at that time because they already had one aircraft (me) on the ILS approach. The other aircraft then said that, in that case, they would do the approach on their own. NorCal said that was at their discretion and cautioned them that there was already an aircraft on the ILS approach. I wasn’t very happy with this situation and advised my safety pilot to keep a sharp lookout for the other plane. I was also listening to both the approach control frequency and the CTAF. As I was coming up on a six mile final the other aircraft announced that they were on a six mile final for Runway 30. I immediately told them that I was also on a six mile final, that I did not have them in sight, and that I had been cleared for the approach and was under the hood and could not look for them, and I didn’t much appreciate them causing a potential mid-air collision when they knew I was cleared for the approach. They (albeit reluctantly) said they would break off their approach. We never did see them. Since then I have preferred to do my practice ILS approaches at towered airports if possible.
I hope these tales have been interesting for you and that they will help you think about the hazards when you fly to uncontrolled airports. Fly safely and bring the plane back in one piece!
PILOT DECISION MAKING
Lindell Wilson, WVFC CFI LindellWilson@PilotNow.com
Flight Service Best Practices
Flight Services best practices are the topic for this month, now that the weather is excellent and we are starting the spring season flying to our favorite destinations. Although this may be a review for the experienced pilot, flight service how-to is always a great review for the rest of us.
First some background… Flight Service Stations often referred to as FSS or just Flight Service, is available to all pilots and is considered part of the Air Traffic Control System (facilities). Over the last 10 years, FSS has been consolidated from 300 facilities down to approximately 60 today. In addition, the FAA outsourced all FSS to Lockheed Martin in 2005. When you talk to a briefer today, they may be hundreds of miles away from your departure / destination airport. You can get a briefing and file flight plans using various sources including calling 1-800-WX-BRIEF, using DUAT or DUATS, or flight software applications such as AOPA or ForeFlight, etc. (Note: pilots should use an official (traceable) source for a briefing to comply with CFR91.103 Preflight Action requirements). Bottom-line, the briefer may/may-not be familiar with your local area or departure/arrival airports.
If you choose a live (phone) briefing… what do you say? You might start with the following conversation example;
Pilot: I’m planning a VFR (or IFR) flight from San Carlos to San Luis Obispo.
Pilot: I need a “standard” briefing and would like to file a flight plan. (Note: If you have recently received a standard briefing, and just want several items updated, then request an “abbreviated” briefing with specifics on what updates you need).
Briefer: Go ahead with your flight plan.
Pilot: VFR, N714VT, C152, /A, 95 knots, departure KSQL, today 12:00 zulu, 7500 feet, OSI V25 PRB, destination KSBP (San Luis Obispo), ETE 01:30, remarks (if any), fuel 04:00, alternates none, pilot name / address / phone, home-base KSQL, persons onboard 1, color W/B, destination contact (name/phone), close plan with Hawthorne FSS 122.4 (if high enough) or close with 1-800-WX-BRIEF or tower (reference FAA form 7233)
Briefer: Flight Plan on file (then the Briefer provides a “standard” weather briefing). Any questions? Pilot reports are appreciated on Flight Watch 122.0
Pilot: (Q&A with Briefer if any) and/or Thank You..!
It is that simple.
If you get a briefing via DUAT/DUATS, or flight software application then you are briefing yourself, and the software application is validating your flight plan input.
Next month we will discuss opening your Flight Plan, Updating, and Closing. Happy Spring Flying…)
Dave Fry, WVFC CFI and Aviation Safety Counselor firstname.lastname@example.org
Black and White?
We often think of doing things as having a right way and the wrong way, or in the case of some of our military friends, the right way, the wrong way and the Navy way.
However, I digress as I often do. When we think in terms of black and white, we limit ourselves. Do you remember black and white television? Even that wasn’t really black and white, as there were lots of shades of grey. Nor, is it shades of grey any more. For over 60 years, television has been in color, and in some cases, it’s also 3-D.
And the world of flying isn’t black and white, either (most of the time). In flying, there are multiple right answers – though there are fewer right answers than there are wrong ones.
Let’s take the traffic pattern, for example. Without trying to foist my preferred method on anyone, let me just say that I can find logic and sound rationale for a variety of different techniques, decisions and methods. One could also poke holes in each with about the same ease.
At what altitude do you turn crosswind? Arguments could be made for a specific altitude (500 AGL, or 400 below TPA, for example), or for some performance-based reason (the altitude at which a 180 back to the runway is possible (however undesirable that choice may be on any particular flight), or an altitude which will allow completion of the turn above the pivotal altitude). As I mentioned, any of these answers could be supported, as could other answers. So what do you do?
How far out from the runway do you turn downwind? I’ve heard effective arguments for a specific distance, or for a distance that varies with the wind (so you have the same amount of time on base, or a distance that will always allow you to make the runway if the engine fails).
When do you turn base? Does the position differ with wind? Some folks like to turn when the numbers are 45 degrees behind; some use an angle/distance method; some use a particular altitude. Of course, when you’re number eight to land and tower sends you all the way to San Jose to turn base, that whole discussion is seriously moot.
What speeds do you fly on downwind, base and final? When do you add flaps? Some folks always have the first notch of flaps on the downwind, the second on base, and the third on final, adjusting power to maintain a desired flight path. Others add flaps only if they need to descend, saving the power adjustments until the end. Either method seems to work for the people that use it, but they ARE different.
OK, so almost any method of doing these things (and virtually anything else in flying) can be completely workable and safe to some extent, how do we evaluate the safety of a particular method?
One place to start is to make sure you do the same thing the same way every time. If you have to modify what you’re doing, perhaps it’s time to question why you needed to change, and whether the methodology really is the right one. Another starting point is to ask WHY we do things the way we do them.
Unlike things in the Sixties (“if it feels good, do it”), if you understand the alternative methods, and have a solid reason for doing things the way you do them, you’ve made a conscious decision. And if the decision is based on safety factors, you’ve probably made the right decision.
But it is a good idea to understand (at a level greater than “I’ve always done it that way”) why we do things the way we do them.
It might even add some color to an otherwise black and white picture.
AS THE WRENCH TURNSDavid Vital, Director of Maintenance email@example.com
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 plane. The problem is usually a combination of factors.
First 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 then 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 this 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, lean towards assuming 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.
Please don’t forget our last MX Q&A pizza party will be
held on April 26th in the MX hanger. Starting in May we will go back
to club BBQ’s on the last Friday of the month. Thanks
Student and New Pilot Group
Oxygen use in Aviation and Trip Report to Shelter Cove
The Student and New Pilot group met in San Carlos for a packed meeting on the 1st of April. These meetings have been attracting various pilots from the Bay Area that meet to share information. The topic of the meeting included a great presentation and discussion about oxygen for general aviation. Trip reports, given by our group’s members, continue to be a popular feature. Michael Vowles and Herb Patten gave a report on a recent flight to Shelter Cove, 0Q5.
Michael Laccabue, CFI led the group in a discussion about oxygen use in aviation. This started with a refresher of the regulations on when oxygen is required followed by a review of the physiology impacts of the lack of oxygen. The group listened to an audio recording of a pilot experiencing hypoxia and the steps ATC took to assist the pilot. Michael also presented material from an FAA aerospace physiology training seminar that is performed using a hypobaric (altitude) chamber to simulate flight at various altitudes and simulate rapid decompression.
There were several portable oxygen systems and cannulas that were brought in and passed around. The group was able to see how these systems work. Most clubs have portable tanks for use and the various club policies were covered for members that want to use them. For those that own their own portable systems a regulation was highlighted that requires tanks to be hydrostatically tested every five (5) years. The full presentation can be found on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BayArea_NewPilots/
The airport is near the Black Sands Beach and the Lost Coast Trail which provides options for those that like to hike. An RV park that offers camping is right next to the airport. There are several options to grab something to eat as well as lodging options if you make it an extended weekend. The Shelter Cove trip report includes important and valuable information if you make the flight. It can be found on the web site http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BayArea_NewPilots/.
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 is going to start rotating meeting locations to accommodate the broader group so please be aware that our next meeting on May 6th at 7:00 PM will be held at the San Carlos Airport Office – in the terminal building at the San Carlos Airport.
The topics of discussion will be:
· San Carlos Airport Operations
§ Trip report from Little River, KLLR
Everyone, whatever and wherever they fly is welcome. In addition to some tasty pizza and soda, you will have a great chance to meet your fellow pilots in an informal setting.
To subscribe to this group, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The presentation from this session is posted on this group site.
Please contact email@example.com or
you would like additional information.
WOW – Women of West Valley Flying Club
Livermore – Lunch and shopping May 22
The WOW group – Women of West Valley and anyone else who would like to join us, will be flying to Livermore on May 22. Plan to arrive at 12 noon and park on the north side in transient parking near Beeb’s Sportsbar & Grill. We will then take a quick 5 minute taxi ride over to the new outlet mall “Livermore Premium Outlets”. You can check out all of the great stores here: http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=107
We will have lunch at one of the restaurants and then shop at your leisure, returning to Livermore mid afternoon.
Please contact Sue Ballew at firstname.lastname@example.org. As the taxi company will need to be notified prior to our arrival, please RSVP for this event. Also let me know if you plan to fly or need a ride. All are welcome!!!Hope to see you all there for a delightful lunch with lots of shopping.
Matt Debski, Aircraft Owner WVFC email@example.com
For my birthday this year, a buddy of mine gave me a flight at Attitude Aviation in Livermore. They have all sorts of high-performance, aerobatic planes and he suggested going in either a Pitts or the Waco. I am super-excited -- we haven't gone yet -- and the gift spurred me to look into seeking my tailwheel endorsement. The last certificate I earned was my Flight Instructor certificate. Since then I've received some flight instruction during checkouts for different airplanes, but it's been a while since I've really taken on something new. My first flight in a Citabria reminded me of how much fun learning to fly is!
I am sure there are some pilots who hop into a tailwheel plane after learning in tricycle gear airplanes and get it right away. For me, everything took a lot more focus, so much so that when I called ground after getting the ATIS, I had to be reminded what letter was current since I was working so hard to keep the control stick in my lap. Doing turn after turn in the traffic pattern, I gradually found getting into a rhythm and starting to enjoy myself. The visibility of the tandem-seating and actually being seated on the longitudinal axis changed my perspective and added to the fun.
During the preflight briefing of my first lesson, my instructor said there are a few things that are a little bit different about tailwheel flying and one thing that is completely different. Wheel landings have you pushing forward on the stick and adding power as you're landing. I didn't understand how difficult it would be to challenge my muscle-memory until we started working on this type of landing. As an instructor, I sit for hours in the traffic pattern, spring-loaded to react to a student who fails to round out or who pushes the nose forward after a bounce. Now, I was supposed to be doing exactly what was so verboten. No wonder it's been a challenge getting those right.
While I'd like to pursue my CFII, multi-engine, sea plane, etc., with a 14-month old at home it's going to be a little while before I dive into those. The tailwheel lessons have reminded me that there are more ways to expand my horizons than just new certificates. I've got my book on learning the G1000 on the bookshelf, so after the tailwheel I'll finally pick that up again. Everyone says the private certificate is a license to learn. I'm glad that I've been reminded just how much fun learning new flying skills is.