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August 2013 Newsletter

Steve Blonstein, General Manager WVFC

Things to celebrate!

Saturday August 17th was our first WVFC Summer Country Carnival.  The entire parking lot outside the PAO clubhouse was transformed into a magical carnival atmosphere.  There were games, a bounce house, a huge inflatable obstacle course, and a petting zoo that even had an alpaca.  There was a great turnout and the weather was just right.  The food was delicious (thanks to the BBQ team), the music and dancing were lively and fun, and the members and their families got to dunk their favorite staff members.  All proceeds from the ticket sales went toward our two scholarship funds for Gianni and Lorne.  Towards the end of the event, a raffle was held to give away some headset bags (thanks to Faro Aviation), some Lake County wine (thanks to our DJ, Glenn), and the ultimate prize, an iPad Mini (thanks to a generous donation from board member Bob Johnson).  More than 50% of the event was funded by our generous sponsors, and we would like to thank them again for making the day possible.  Hopefully, we will be able to repeat the event next year and make it even better.  I want to extend a special thanks to Noelle Flaker and Ashley Porath who put in an incredible amount of time and effort to make it all happen.

There is one more thing to celebrate this month. It is free G1000 SIM time at San Carlos!  The owner of the SIM has generously offered to match the arrangement on the same SIM that we have at Palo Alto.  The offer is to allow each and every regular member one free hour each month on the San Carlos G1000 SIM (named SIM2G1 on Schedule Master).  Free hours cannot be accumulated.  Sessions of more than one hour should be broken down into two line items, the free “promo” hour and the remainder being charged at the regular rate.  We are very excited to be able to offer this unique capability as it clearly gives the WVFC membership a unique advantage over other clubs and operations in the local area.  The value of the free hour equates to approximately the cost of a month’s membership dues.  Please take advantage of this fantastic offer and keep the SQL G1000 SIM as busy as possible.

Fly (and SIM) Safely


Jesse Gamueda, Chief Pilot WVFC

Landings, Landings, Landings!

After the Asianna accident at San Francisco airport last month, I feel it appropriate to touch on the subject where the majority of accidents occur! 

In certain studies, landings comprise 50% of all accidents.  So, it’s definitely a hot topic issue.

Certain fundamentals are associated with landings that we need to be aware of.  Approach speed is an issue which we’ve discussed before.  Another is CFIT! CFIT is becoming more common in all aspects of flying.  Literally it stands for “controlled flight into terrain”.  Around the club this is translated into, taking a perfectly good plane and flying it into the ground. 

So here are a couple of things that we as GA pilots can start watching for!


If your airspeed is off even a little bit either side of desired you’re going to land short or long.  Let’s say the POH calls for 60-70 knots on approach.  If we fly that approach at 55 knots, we don’t have much room for adjusting speed close to the ground.  With the addition of power in ground effect, you’re going to glide, balloon, or float down the runway.  However don’t think that the addition of power is not recommended.  I would much rather have you go around.

With too much airspeed, 75 knots, manny students/pilots I know will attempt to force the aircraft into landing.  This is where you get the typical porpoising or the bounce off of the runway.  In either case, it’s happening extremely fast and before you know it, you’ve messed up your energy management completely!   And again, I would rather have you go around! 

If then we take that same aircraft and fly the approach at 65 knots on target airspeed, this allows us to transition from the approach to a flare and touchdown in the most appropriate manner as possible.  We don’t misuse our energy management.

During slow speed we get more of a thump onto the asphalt, and energy is directed into the runway.  A fast approach yields the opposite.  When we transition from an approach to a flare, the aircraft still has energy and momentum and requires us to use more runway than we want.  When we are right on airspeed, we can transition from approach to flare and then energy dissipation takes its course.  We dissipate energy ahead, just a touch into the ground and this is where we feel the greaser! 

As flight instructors we try and develop you’re landing skills putting you into as many different types of situations as possible.  That way you can learn to correct appropriately when confronted with an unusual situation.

VASI / PAPI – Visual approach slope indicators and Precision approach path indicators: 

These are an enormous help when aiding you in your approach to the airport.  We are shooting for red over white.  This tells you that you are right on the glide path required to be in a safe position to land the aircraft on the runway without being high or low.  In addition, a white over white indication will tell you that you are going to use too much runway when you bring the power to idle.  A red over red indication is going to tell you that you may land short of the runway or maybe even take out some runway lights at the approach end of the airport, or maybe not even make the runway.

As always, there are numerous other topics that could be discussed when speaking of landings!  The problem is, how many items do we want to discuss, how many will you remember, and how long do we want to make this article before I lose your interest!

In closing, I’ve given you two great tools that you should always be using when flying stabilized approaches at San Carlos and Palo Alto! The length of these runways makes it even more important that at least these two rules are used when trying to make a safe landing.  And I disagree with the adage that any landing you walk away from is a good landing!  Make it a point to use all the fundamentals available and the rest will take care of itself.  Of course, practice makes perfect! 


Lindell Wilson, WVFC CFI

The Landing Challenge

It seems that 2013 is the year of the Landing Challenge with several recent Landing accidents occurring at our local airports including KSFO. Why do we have such a problem with Landing?

The Nall Report* (published 2012) concludes that Landing accidents are about 30% of all general aviation accidents, and fortunately only several percent of Landing accidents are fatal (orange). General aviation Landing accidents are often caused by pilot error and not by mechanical problems.  The graph below clearly shows Landing is the Challenge! Wow 361.

Landing accidents are classified into seven areas as the graph below illustrates, but the top three areas are;

1.     Loss of Control                         2.   Stalls         3.   Long Landings

I found it interesting that the recent KSFO landing accident might be classified as a Short Landing which statistically represents the lowest percentage type in the Nall report.

A bright note is that the report indicates that student solo Landing accidents fell 40% compared to past years. Student pilots practice takeoff and landing over-and-over, so practice is definitely one of the keys to mitigating Landing accidents. In addition, the FAA and the aviation community have  programs focused on  Landing practice, technique, and safety.

Ask yourself… how many takeoffs and Landings have I done in the last month?

*Source for figures 15 and 35 is the Nall Report 22nd edition


Dave Fry, WVFC CFI and Aviation Safety Counselor

Here There Be Dragons

What kid didn’t love the old maps of the “New World”?  Of course, most (as we know today) were horribly inaccurate, but that didn’t keep it from being exciting to think about those ancient explorers, and about their skill with primitive equipment and their bravery heading into the unknown.

Some of the old maps even had the notation, “Here there be dragons.”  WAY too cool.

There are a variety of dragons in aviation, any one of which will bite you in the empennage, and in this column I’m going to describe a few of them, most of which come to mind as a result of the Asiana 777 crash at SFO a few days ago.

As of this writing, the cause of the accident is still under investigation, and there has been little except speculation, which is not the object of this column.  Granting that my jet experience is in planes with gross weights on the same order as the reserve fuel on the 777, there are some factors, rules, and procedures that apply to both.  So mostly what I want to do is describe how things are supposed to work, and where the dragons are – those things that will eat you alive if you don’t do them right.  I’m not suggesting that any of them applies directly to the Asiana crash, but they are the first things that come to my mind.

The Stabilized Approach:

Shortly before the descent is started (or immediately thereafter if ATC trumps your plans and starts bringing you down before you really want to descend), the PNF (Pilot Not Flying) fills out the Landing Data card, which among other things includes the Vref airspeed.  This is the target airspeed that will be flown (in the approach configuration) continually from the Final Approach Fix inbound.

The PNF listens to the ATIS, AWOS, or ASOS and modifies the computed Vref to account for gusts and so on, then briefs the PF on both the weather and the computed and modified Vref numbers.  After the PF agrees, both pilots set the speed bugs on their airspeed indicators.  Then either the PF or the PNF briefs the approach with the other confirming frequencies, headings, courses, and altitudes, as well as the missed approach procedure.

Outside the Final Approach Fix, as the plane approaches the glide path (ILS, VASI, LPV, or PAPI), the PF reduces airspeed and calls for the appropriate flap and gear settings, so that the plane is between Vref and Vref +10 (but we’d rather be at Vref+5 KIAS), and descending on the desired path.

Regardless of the approach type, the PNF approximately every 15 seconds gives a call like, “On glide path, on localizer, ref plus 5, 1000 to minimums.”  In between these call outs, the PNF also gets to read the checklist (challenge and response for some items, simply doing and reporting to the PF for others), handle all radio calls, and watch outside for signs of the runway.

Precision approaches have a glide path that would result in hitting the runway at the 1000 foot mark if the pilot does nothing but follow the glide slope to the ground.  So, at 50 feet above the runway (which usually occurs right at the threshold), the pilot brings the throttles to idle and keeps flying the same path.  This results in an increased pitch as the airspeed drops and the plane enters ground effect.  The sink rate decreases as the plane slows and approaches the runway until at the 1000 foot mark and exactly on the centerline, the plane lands smoothly and rolls onto the runway.  At this point, the pilot gets really busy, pushing the nose down (a bit counter-intuitive to the average “hold the nose up on the follow through” 172 pilot), activating the spoilers and speed brakes, deploying the thrust reversers, and applying reverse thrust.  The PNF calls out two speeds, the one at which the PF may begin braking, and the one at which the PF must stop using reverse thrust.  Both sides of the cockpit tend to be pretty busy in the last 50 feet of descent and the part of the landing that happens before taxiing off the runway.

The Penalty (Part 1) – Self Imposed:

If the plane exceeds Vref +10, drops below Vref, exceeds 1000 fpm on the descent, drifts more than ¼ scale off either the vertical or horizontal guidance, or exceeds 30 degrees of bank (on a circling approach), it is an automatic, MANDATORY go around.  No questions, no arguing, just cram the throttles and GO!

Now, this is expensive in terms of fuel (turbines are REALLY thirsty at low altitudes), additional time on engines, each of which has an operating cost measured in thousands of dollars per hour, to say nothing of the loss of passenger confidence in your piloting ability.  As a result pilots try to avoid go-arounds, but they do it by staying within the rules, rather than by trying to “save” the landing.

The Penalty (Part 2) – Where the Dragons Are:

Despite the many really cool features of jets (big ones in particular), there are a couple of things that are less than completely positive, and in fact, are part of the reason for doing things the way they should be done.  Three things come immediately to mind: Weight, Response, and Complexity.

Big jets are heavy, and when they get moving in a particular direction, they tend to keep moving in that direction.  Newton had something to say about that, and in the case of big jets, they put the “mo’ ” in “momentum”.  As a result, it is often worse to come in high (resulting in a steeper approach and a higher sink rate) than it is to come in low – there is a spare engine (or so) to keep the low approach from plowing the ground leading up to the runway if an engine quits.  High sink rates mean the plane needs to generate a LOT of lift to stop the downward momentum, and at Vref the plane is at or near the part of the power curve in which an increase of angle of attack results in LESS lift rather than more.  So the attempt to stop a steeper than normal descent can easily result in less lift rather than more.

Worse, when descending from above glide path, the pilot has two equally bad choices: (1) Speed up to descend faster, and (2) reduce the power even more.  A pretty good rule of thumb is that an extra 10 knots on final is equal to an additional 1000 feet of runway required for the landing.  The alternative of reducing power is equally unattractive.  When the power is at idle in a big jet engine, the pilot can cram the throttles, get up, leave the cockpit, get some coffee, chat with the flight attendant and return to the cockpit to find the engines still in the process of spooling up.  OK, so it’s not QUITE that bad.  But you’re still going to be getting closer to the ground for a long time while awaiting the power increase.  The delay can easily exceed 7 or 8 seconds, and any pilot will know that on final approach, 7 or 8 seconds is only a rock throw from eternity (one way or another).

Because engine power doesn’t change instantly (big planes, despite the light control feel on many of them, are much more like Fruehaufs than Ferraris), speed control is critical, and that means someone (PNF) needs to be watching it constantly, and calling it out to the PF.  Worse, because the plane is heavy, even when the power has been changed, it may be a while before the speed actually changes.  Meanwhile, the plane is getting slower and closer to both the ground and the stall speed.

Finally, despite the automation, or perhaps because of it, there is a lot going on in the cockpit of a big plane, especially as one approaches the runway.   This is one of the reasons all larger jets are certified for two-person crews.  Editorial comment:  Smaller jets should be flown two-person crew, as well.  I’m certified single pilot in Citation Mustangs, and have flown them single pilot occasionally, but I know I’m a FAR better pilot when I have someone else in the cockpit with me working in a CRM environment.  But having another person in the cockpit isn’t enough; it has to be done as a crew, with well understood roles, responsibilities, and communication protocols.  When CRM breaks down, any number of bad things can (and do) happen. 


There are a variety of dragons that await any pilot that doesn’t carefully follow the required procedures (this, BTW, is one reason insurance companies have such incredibly strict experience, training and currency requirements for jet pilots).  It will be interesting to see if one (or more) of these dragons bit the Asiana crew.

Student and New Pilot Group

Angel Flight West – Making a difference

The Student and New Pilot group held its August meeting at the West Valley San Carlos classroom on Monday August 5th. Over the past 18 months, these meetings have been attracting various pilots from the Bay Area that meet to share information and experiences. The featured topic for the August meeting was a presentation and interactive discussion about the Angel Flight West (AFW) Organization.

Carin Luna-Ostaseki, a recent new pilot and an Angel Flight mission assistant, coordinated and hosted a presentation about Angel Flight West. She was accompanied by Mike Venturino who is an AFW mission pilot.  Mike has had a long career in aviation and in addition to sharing his experience with AFW; he also provided the group with interesting anecdotes from his 29 year flying career with United Airlines. 

Carin and Mike informed the group that AFW conducts several types of missions including transportation for non-emergency medical treatment, compassion flights for family members of a patient, flights to special needs camps, as well as many others. A typical mission might involve flying a patient from a rural area to a hospital in a metropolitan area for regularly schedule treatment. Mike shared how it is a great opportunity to fly to some interesting destinations while at the same time providing necessary transportation to people who really need it.

Carin reviewed the requirements to become a mission pilot which includes a minimum of 250 hours along with some other standard requirements such as insurance and a recent flight review. Interested pilots can assist AFW even if they don’t meet those requirements by serving as a mission assistant. This role involves helping the mission pilot and assisting the passengers. You can tell from both Carin and Mike how passionate they are about this organization and the benefit it provides to others. More information can be found on the AFW website at In addition, both Carin and Mike have offered to entertain questions on this topic. Carin can be reached via email at

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 check the announcement for the location. Be aware that our next meeting will be on Monday, September 9th, at 7:00 PM which is one week later than usual due to the holiday.

We have several great topics lined up for the September meeting, including:

Flight Reviews – what to expect. Come to the meeting to hear first hand about what is involved in a flight review. We have several members that have recently completed their flight review.

Trip reports from Las Vegas and Victoria, BC!
We will also have several trip reports from members that have recently completed some interesting trips. They will share with us their experiences including flight planning, details of the trip, and tips for anyone considering a similar trip.


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: The presentations from past sessions are posted on this group site.

 Please contact or  if you would like additional information.

WOW – Women of West Valley Flying Club

Mendocino – Little River, October 12

Our October flyin will be to the lovely city of Mendocino on the coast. Actually we'll fly into the Little River (LLR) airport and get transportation into town. This is a VERY charming town, the site of the Murder She Wrote mystery TV show, with lots of great shops, restaurants and amazing vistas. It's a very fun flight, so dust off your charts and come along. You have plenty of time to prepare for this one, and gather up passengers. Please remember to bring future pilots and new pilots along!

Plan to arrive at LLR at noon for transportation into town. Lunch will be at 12:30 - at the Mendocino Cafe 10451 Lansing St Mendocino, CA 95460

(707) 937-2422

Let me know if you think you'd like to come along - if you need a ride or have a seat.

See you there,

Sue Ballew

Matt Debsky, Aircraft Owner WVFC

Oshkosh 2013

I made what is becoming a biennial trip to Oshkosh this year.  As I wrote two years ago, EAA's AirVenture is a must for any aviator.  Late July and early August in Wisconsin are usually hot, humid, and often peppered with thunderstorms. While the air show the day prior to my arrival was rained-shortened, overall the weather was about ideal.  Warm enough to wear shorts but not so hot as to be uncomfortable or wish for air-conditioning. This set the stage for a great Oshkosh.  Here are a few of my experiences and reflections from this year's AirVenture.

Planes, the movie

About a month before AirVenture, I read that Disney's new Planes movie would be previewed at AirVenture a week before it opened nationwide.  AirVenture has the Fly-In Outdoor Theater with a several-story tall screen and a lawn on which to setup chairs.  When I arrived thirty minutes prior to show time, I was able to find a spot on the lawn that seemed like it was a quarter-mile from the screen.  Fortunately, most of the folks in front of me kept their heads down and I was able to see most of the screen.  AirVenture estimated the size of the crowd at a record 15,000.  The movie was fun.  It was no Toy Story; reviewers have criticized it as formulaic.  However, as you've probably read in countless other aviation periodicals, respect was given to pilots and aviation; references to wake turbulence and altitude versus airspeed tradeoffs show that the script writers did some research.  I am sure my son will enjoy it when he's old enough. And I've heard positive things about other kids loving the movie.

While watching ultralights doing patterns at the end of the following day, I overheard people discussing how Planes may help to encourage a next generation of pilots or at least get more youth interested in aviation.  Certainly having more airplane toys around houses can't be a bad thing for encouraging the dream to fly or at least making aviation seem friendlier.  The first Planes is one in a series of three (the first focuses on air racing, the second firefighting).  I look forward to the release of the sequels.

Lack of government presence

Due to the Sequester, there was very little government presence at Oshkosh this year, which usually includes military, the FAA, and the drones that are often on display.  Additionally, there were oblique suggestions to Stand Up For GA, a reference to the half-million dollar bill sent by the FAA to EAA for providing air traffic control services at Oshkosh this year.  The military usually brings some super-cool hardware to the event.  For example, just the two previous AirVentures have celebrated the centennial of Naval Aviation, Doolittle Raiders, and the Tuskegee Airmen.  While there were plenty of warbirds present by virtue of the private owners, displays of patriotism and honoring of veterans, it did feel different not to have the military kit present.

Additionally, the FAA presence was minimal.  There were some safety seminars and movies.  However, the Federal Pavilion was mostly empty.  The FAA Administrator did not make an appearance.  While the pending litigation with respect to the ATC fees may be straining the FAA/EAA relationship, the FAA Administrator not making an appearance at the world's largest GA gathering was unfortunate.  AirVenture is often an opportunity to demonstrate the partnership that exists between the Association and the FAA in improving general aviation safety.

WVFC and Other Friends

I've written articles in the past about how welcoming the aviation community is.  One of the great things about AirVenture is that as you look around the grounds at the thousands of people present, you know you can start a conversation with anyone by asking about airplanes or flying.  On Saturday morning, I did the Runway 5K run. Leaving my campsite to jog to the starting line, I joined another runner in her warm up.  The conversation included her and her husband's planned homebuilt, the experience of flying to AirVenture, training for and running the Boston Marathon, and introducing kids to flying.  At lunch one day, I discussed mountain flying with a pilot from Texas, and later that night discussed training to be a pilot with aviation enthusiasts, one of whom arrived late to Oshkosh because she'd just had a ten-pound tumor removed earlier in the week - that's dedication.  Of course, all the vendors and exhibitors are more than happy to talk.  AirVenture provides a great venue to meet people from around the world who love to share their passion for aviation.

Among particular subgroups of the people at AirVenture were those of WVFC.  Each of the evenings I was at AirVenture I was fortunate to meet up with different people from the club and then frequently ran into folks during the day.  One WVFC member was there with airplanes used for competing in the Reno National Air Races.  Hearing the stories of maintaining, exhibiting, and just getting the planes to and from Oshkosh was fascinating.  The following night, I met up with the instructor with whom I've done my ratings and a former chairman of the WVFC board.  On my last night, I joined another instructor and learned some techniques for teaching better stick and rudder flying, and then met back up with him and another WVFC member to watch the evening air show.  So, in addition to meeting some great people from around the country, I got to reconnect with folks from right down the street.

While I'm far from a seasoned AirVenture veteran, I'm beginning to get its rhythm, recognizing the parts that stay the same each year and things that change.  The camaraderie and the immersion in aviation culture won't go away.  If you haven't been to AirVenture yet, make your plans for next year.