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January 2013 Newsletter

Steve Blonstein, General Manager WVFC

Happy 2013

Happy New Year!  I want to tell you a little bit about club plans for 2013.  There are lots of exciting changes coming, many of them early in the year.

1)     A new scheduling system – Schedule Master.  If you haven’t already heard, in mid to late January, the club will complete the transition from CASSi to Schedule Master.  There has been an extensive behind the scenes effort to make the transition as smooth as possible but like any technological shift, there will be some bumps and we’ll work through them as expeditiously as possible.

2)     A new accounting system – Intuit QB Online.  On January 1, 2013 the club switched from a very antiquated system, Navision, to a state of the art, cloud hosted version of QuickBooks.  This is a huge step forward because Quickbooks is ideally suited for an organization of our size.  With the completion of #1 and #2, the club IT systems will be completely hosted in the cloud and will no longer have any local servers which have caused so much grief in the last couple of years.

3)     A new fiscal year.  We are switching from April-March fiscal year to a January to December cycle.  This lines up much better with most other club activities.  The switch occurred on January 1, 2013.

4)     New simulators.  In late January 2013, the club will be receiving two brand new PFC simulators, a G1000 model and a 6 pack model.  The G1000 model will be owned by you, the membership, which is a shift from the past model of all simulators being owned by individuals.  We are going to experiment with a new business model by offering every member 1 free hour per month on the new G1000 unit.  While free hours cannot be accumulated month to month, this is a $50 value per month, almost covering the regular $55 membership dues.   We hope to see a very high interest level in this new model.

5)     PAO facilities.  In January and February of 2013, the lobby at PAO will be remodeled.  More significantly, throughout 2013, the entire PAO facility will be completely remodeled giving us a fresh, clean, and more functional space.

6)     The fleet.  Throughout 2013, we will continue to rebuild the fleet towards our current goal of 50 aircraft.  We dropped as low as 40 aircraft a few months back and we’re currently at 45.   We are fairly sure about what the next 5 aircraft need to be and will be working diligently to acquire them.

7)     A summer party/event.  We had such positive feedback from the 2012 Luau that we are planning another event for the summer of 2013.  Details are still being worked out and we are looking for sponsorship to help make it happen.

8)     West Valley Flyers.  This new group will be organizing various trips throughout 2013 to encourage the membership to get together for fly-outs to various locations, both near and far.

9)     Summer Program for High School kids.  Once again, in June, we will be offering a week long summer program for high school kids to get an introduction to aviation.  It’s a fantastic summer camp idea for your older kids and a relative bargain at $995 for the entire week including several hours in the cockpit. On the subject of kids, we have noticed a significant increase in the number of kids learning to fly at WVFC.  We even have a 10 year old!  So if you’ve ever considered signing up your child to learn to fly or just to fly, then we have quite the group developing that we would love to add to.

10)   Events.  The club will increase the number of educational events for the membership.  These include, but are not limited to, the New Pilot and Student group, information sessions for new members, information sessions for prospective aircraft owners, and traditional safety seminars.

I hope this gives you just a taste of what we have in store for you in 2013.  If you have any thoughts on any of the above items or have other suggestions then please reach me via email at and I would love to discuss them.

From the Desk of the Chief

Jesse Gamueda, Chief Pilot WVFC

Go Around!

For those of you who don’t know me or haven’t had a chance to speak with me I am not surprised as there are close to 1000 pilots at the WVFC. 

My name is Jesse and I come from a land far away.  Known in certain circles as the Rocky Mountains and to the locals around my neighborhood; Denver Colorado. 

So this is not my first go around in a new position and I’m sure it won’t be my last.  I am confronted with a new culture in aviation.   Not so much an unknown, rather a different but welcomed one. 

That new culture is being in an organization that not only provides a service for a membership but hopefully an environment where safety can play a large role in the decisions we make.  Those decisions not only in the sky, but in the days, hours, and minutes up to and after your journey into the blue yonder. 

As the new chief pilot I am mainly tasked with making safety decisions for the organization, not unlike your flight instructors, phase check pilots or check out instructors, just on a much broader scale.  And to develop, implement, or simply enforce those decisions already in existence.   

I find that the current instructor core is highly capable with helping you develop that safety culture.   With that being said; I would like to add my own two cents to an already fantastic set of regulations that I’m positive the aforementioned professionals have already discussed with you. 

The GO-AROUND!  The go around is a very simple maneuver that does not require a great skill set but rather a thought process that allows you to say, “I need to go around”. It’s a fantastic maneuver that simply begs you to make the right decision.  The thought process behind the go around is one that gives you an “out” if you will, to certain things that didn’t develop the way you may have planned.  We always aspire to the perfect landing, hoping that no one in the a/c will feel the tires touching the ground. But the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. 

However we in the aviation community also have the “perfect recovery” for our best laid plan.  Our secret weapon to give us a second chance to prove to perhaps no one else but ourselves that we’ve practiced good judgment in our decision making process. Often times we come in on final too fast and further mitigate the process by trying to lower the nose, convincing ourselves that we need to lose altitude quicker. Or perhaps we in fact do touch down at the right speed and bounce, but instead of going around, we force the yoke (stick for you tail wheel junkies) forward and create an even bigger pucker moment.     

All food for thought when considering the GO AROUND. 

Implementing the GO-AROUND

Very simply… if that little voice in the back of your mind is screaming- “Not Good” or “Too fast” or maybe even “boy that lunch was fantastic” then you should start thinking – Go around!

Not rocket science I know.  But this is precisely why it’s a brilliant “out” in our bag of tricks!  This article could be written with another 3 pages of facts/statistics/considerations.  But then it would lose its simplicity to technicality. And this is the last thing that we want to complicate!

So let us review: if in your mind, you want to dive the aircraft to lose altitude; you see two white lights, two red lights or fire truck lights while approaching the runway; if you have more airspeed then is required for a landing; or perhaps the wind changed or is beyond your personal minimums, the go-around is for you.  It must be one of the options in your arsenal of safety.  One great plus, no one will blame or ridicule you for.   In fact you’ll join the ranks of professionals who everyday have to make more judgment calls than skill set demands! 

In closing, thank you for humoring me.  I appreciate you finishing the article, if in fact you’ve made it this far.  But more importantly we at WVFC are in a unique environment with our two airports in that we have 2600 ft. or less of runway.  A challenge for even seasoned aviators!

I simply ask that you begin utilizing this one maneuver that could save your ego, our aircraft, or most importantly, lives!

Lloyd Stephens, Aircraft Owner WVFC  

The Knot You Need To Know

I used to know a pilot who lived in Alaska.  He knew there was a storm forecast one night with high winds, so he went to the airport to make sure his plane was tied down securely.  The next day he came back to the airport and discovered that the plane next to his had apparently not been securely tied down. It had lifted up in the wind and had landed upside down on top of his plane.  Unfortunately, his plane was totaled.  He was--to put it mildly--not a happy camper. 

Winter is the season when the majority of storms hit the west coast.  These storms frequently feature driving rain and significant winds.  Paradoxically, some of the best flying days of the year are the periods between these storms.  You may fly in beautiful weather on Saturday, but when you tie the plane down, you need to tie it down securely, because by Sunday night it can be “blowing up a storm” and you may be the last one to fly it before that storm comes in.  As an airplane owner I worry about the security of my plane in a storm as, I’m sure, the other owners do too.  Airplanes are expensive, and not easily replaced.  Airplanes are also made to fly, and in high winds they can take off on their own, like the one in Alaska--that’s why we tie them down.  If a storm with high winds is forecast, I will frequently come to the airport to ensure that my plane is securely tied down, but I can’t do that all of the time.  The club tries to check on planes, as well, but the bottom line is that we rely on you, the members flying the planes, to make sure that the plane is securely tied down after you fly it.  This doesn’t mean just throwing the rope over itself a couple of times--it means that you tie a secure knot that is going to prevent the airplane from moving very much in high winds.  You should know that if you don’t tie the plane down securely and it is damaged or causes damage to another plane, you may be held responsible, at least for the not-in-motion deductible on the insurance policy.

The reason why I’m writing this is that I have frequently seen failures to adequately tie the planes down.  Recently I came to the airport after a storm to find the tail tie-down on my plane tied like this:


This is not an adequate knot.  In fact, it is not a knot at all.  It is not secure and offers little or no protection for the aircraft.  All I had to do was pull on the rope a couple of times and the “knot” came completely loose.   Although the club does not require you to tie a specific knot, as long as the aircraft is tied down securely, the best knot to use--and the one we want you to use--is the WVFC “club” knot.  (If you are an instructor, you need to be teaching this knot!!) 

Because many members of the club are not real good at knotsmanship and were using a variety of inadequate knots to tie planes down, some of the instructors at the club have developed a “club” knot which is the recommended way to tie down a WVFC airplane.  This knot is similar to a bowline.  I have found this knot to be easy to tie and to release and it offers excellent security.  I’m always happy when I find my plane tied down using this knot, because I know it’s secure.  The way you tie it is as follows:

1.  Take the loose end of tie-down rope and put it through the tie-down ring from left to right.  (If you are left-handed or want to do it right to left, see the video link below.)

2.  Take the part of the rope attached to the tie-down and twist it upwards (clockwise) to make a small loop about 8-10 inches from the tie-down ring.  Take the loose end of the rope and put it down through this loop, then pull the loose end until the rope is tight.   (Photos 2 & 3)

3.  Take the loose end to the left, over the top of the rope, and around to the back of the knot you are tying.  Then put the end through the large loop formed between the tie-down ring and the knot, and then down under the part that you previously ran over the top of the rope.  The loose end should now be parallel to the part of the rope attached to the tie-down.  (Photos 4, 5 & 6)

4.  Pull the loose end until the knot is tight.  Then tie the loose end off with an overhand knot.  It’s that simple.  And it’s secure.  (Photos 7 & 8)

Here’s a link to a video by John Felleman showing how to tie the “club” knot.  John is left handed (I’m right handed), so the video shows him tying the knot the reverse way--starting by pulling the loose end through the tie down ring from right to left--but it’s really just the same knot.   

If you can’t figure out how to tie it from the video or from my description, talk to an instructor, or contact me ( and I’ll come to the airport and show you how to do it. 

Remember: as the pilot in command, YOU are responsible for making sure the plane is tied down securely--with all three tie-downs--after you fly it.  Just do it--all the time, regardless of what season it is.  It’s not that hard.  The airplane, the club, and the owners, will appreciate it.  Thanks!


2 & 3

4, 5, & 6

7 & 8


Lindell Wilson, WVFC CFI

Decision Making – Ground Handling

Welcome to a new year of flying and some of the same old challenges. Let’s take a look this month at aircraft ground handing (i.e. parking pull-out and push-back). Yes I know, boring stuff but expensive if we bump into something.

Various factors may contribute to aircraft damage during ground handling, and the following three factors are probably high on the list. All three could easily blur (combine) together.

1)     Loss of spatial awareness, aircraft versus the surrounding environment

2)     Distractions

3)     Fixation

Loss of spatial awareness can happen during flight and on the ground. For example, how many times during your preflight aircraft inspection have you noticed small dents and/or scratches on the aircraft wing tip, tail or fuselage? The point is that dents and scratches were likely caused by either taxi or ground handling accidents by the pilot or someone handling adjacent aircraft. Aircraft are big and extend in all directions with wings and tail, so it is easy to misjudge the relative position of the aircraft extremities versus the surrounding environment (fences, posts, hangers, and adjacent aircraft).

Distractions are also common during ground handling. For example, a pilot who recently was pushing their aircraft back into the parking spot was distracted by another aircraft taxing down the same parking row. Unfortunately, in the “hurry” to get the aircraft pushed back into the parking space, the pilot’s aircraft collided with the adjacent aircraft wing tip.

Fixation is the third common issue and is often combined with a loss of spatial awareness. Similar to the distraction example, another pilot was pushing back their aircraft into the parking spot and was intently focused on aligning the aircraft with the parking T. During the last several feet of push-back, the pilot realized that the aircraft was too far left of the center of the T, so the pilot abruptly maneuvered the nose wheel with the tow bar to re-center the aircraft. Unfortunately a small swing arm in the nose translates into a big swing arm in the tail which collided with the adjacent aircraft.

How can we prevent aircraft ground handling damage? We can develop good aircraft handling habits and best practices.

1)     Walk around the aircraft before moving anywhere (pull-out or push-back) to observe the aircraft’s position relative to adjacent aircraft and obstacles.

2)     Wing watchers (2nd person) can provide extra-eyes to observe the wing-tips and tail. This is a common airline best practice.

3)     Helpers (2nd person) can provide assistance moving the aircraft allowing the person steering to observe aircraft extremities and position.

4)     Technique, aligning the aircraft with the parking space before entering the parking spot, then push the aircraft straight back into the parking spot with only small steering corrections (i.e. no last-minute BIG corrections). If the position does not look good, then stop, observe, and try-again.


Dave Fry, WVFC CFI and Aviation Safety Counselor

Perfection Part 2:  The Enemy of Perfection 

Continuing the Perfection theme from a couple of months ago, let’s look at the things that get in the way of Perfection.  No surprise, many are the things that cause us trouble when flying on instruments: omission, fixation, and lack of situational awareness.  There is another Enemy of Perfection, but we’ll save it for a bit.

Among Fry’s Laws of Flying and Life is the admonition that, “Whatever you’re not looking at turns to crud”, or some similar substance.  So, if there is an instrument, gauge, traffic, horizon, or something else you’re not looking at, it’s a pretty fair bet that whatever it’s doing it’s not what you want it to.  Other examples occur, and just using the approach and landing phases of flight as examples, here we go.  If you don’t look at the centerline of the runway, you won’t land on it.  If you don’t select and aim at a specific point to touch down, you won’t land there.  If you don’t select and fly a specific pitch, power setting, and flap setting, you won’t fly your desired airspeed.  If you don’t watch the pitch attitude at touchdown, you’re likely to land fast or stall it on, or fail to follow through with the nose wheel off the ground for the beginning of the roll out.  Or pick a half a hundred other things – and that’s just the landing. 

Fixation can be an extreme case of omission.  When you fixate on a single thing, it pretty much guarantees that you’ll omit something else – or everything else.  Usually we fixate on things we are having trouble with if we’re trying to improve our performance, or the thing that’s gone wrong if the spaghetti has just hit the fan.  And sometimes, if you fixate on one thing, even THAT will turn to crud.  Try flying instrument while just watching altitude – invariably your bank will drift off level, which will eventually cause high G forces and loss of altitude regardless of how diligently you look at the altimeter.  Can we say, “high speed spiral”? 

The final Enemy of Perfection (at least the last one that occurs to me in my post Rose Bowl mentality – too much adrenalin and completely blown vocal cords), is perhaps the most important.  And part of the reason for its importance is that it is related to fixing the other two.

And that is complacence.  It takes many forms.  Politically, it often comes in the form of, “It could have been worse.”  Especially while “explaining” less than optimum outcomes, as in, “The unemployment figures aren’t what we’d hoped for, but it could have been worse.”  Something we’ve heard way too often regarding any number of recent economic problems, situations, “solutions”, and consequences.  Perhaps if our politicians identified problems and tried for solutions instead of blindly making deals without considering all of the consequences….,but I digress.

In the flying game, complacency can come from comparing one’s performance to the practical test standard (clearly an important thing to do in preparation for a checkride), and determining that “I’m good enough.”

“Good enough” is implacably opposed to perfection.  One of the ancient Greeks (Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, maybe?) once said something like, “If you would become good, you must first admit you are bad.”  And if you think you are “good enough” you won’t see the need to improve.  Improving is a lot of hard work, and it’s hard to make that kind of effort if you’re already good enough.  Or think you are.

The thing that may need improving could be a maneuver.  More globally, it could be our level of understanding, our procedures, our situational awareness, our professionalism, or our communication techniques.  Oddly, or perhaps not, these topics don’t just apply to flying, they can apply to any organization you belong to as well as how you relate to it.

What would things be like if everyone at West Valley continually rejected “good enough” and tried to improve every time we flew, and every day we are at the club, and every way in which we represent the club.

We can’t ever reach perfection, but “better”, if it happens every time, soon beats the snot out of “good enough.”


David Vital, Director of Maintenance


Happy New Year WVFC!!! I hope everyone had a great and safe holiday season. This month we will talk a little bit about tires and their importance.

As student pilots, we are taught by the club to check the tires for condition and inflation before each takeoff.  But as we progressed in our flying careers, some of us have taken tires for granted. Sure, we’re careful to check the “important” stuff—engine oil, fuel, headset batteries and radios—but we keep tires on a second-class status, merely glancing at them to make sure that they’re all accounted for and aren’t flat.

Continuing this bad habit, however, does have serious consequences. So perhaps it’s time to go back to the basics and take a look at tires in a whole different light because, in the whole scheme of things, they’re just as important as the rest of the components of an airplane.

For most of their lives, airplane tires don’t do much except keep the metal parts of the airplane off the ground. For long and short periods, though, they work hard—especially during taxi, takeoff and landing. As airplanes get heavier, the margin in the tire loading goes down; as airplanes go faster, the margins become even thinner. With a high-performance airplane, the tires aren’t underutilized; in fact, they’re at their optimal design point—neither too large nor too heavy—for their intended task. That means that the tires need to be kept in excellent condition, and one way to assure that is to check the inflation, which, according to industry experts, is the single, most important parameter of a tire’s life, load, maintenance and safety.

Properly inflated tires, in good condition, put less stress on the rest of the airframe, and maintaining all tires at the right pressure will minimize asymmetric brake and steering action, giving you a better feel for the airplane and better ground-handling skills—all while extending the service life of your gear and airframe, and increasing tire life.

Although it’s ultimately up to all of us when it comes to checking tires, don’t blame anyone for pressure loss. There are several reasons for this problem to occur. The casing itself, for example, is slightly porous, and there’s an intentional vent in the tire body itself. There also may be a safety plug in the wheel that leaks a bit, and the O-ring in the wheel may leak some. The bead may leak, too. Even the weather makes a difference. A five-degree F drop in temperature, for example, can account for a 1% loss of air pressure. Just remember that tires lose pressure. That’s their nature. But it’s our obligation to keep them full. So don’t take your tires for granted, and check the condition and pressure as often as possible.

Reminder the MX Pizza party will be held on Jan 25th at 12:00 pm in the hanger. We will have a couple of planes open for you to look at. Along with the planes open the Maintenance staff members will be present to answer your questions. We hope to see you in the hanger on the 25th.

Student and New Pilot Group

Checking WX and Trip Report: D83

The Student and New Pilot group met at the San Carlos WVFC Club House for a packed meeting to kick- off the New Year. These meetings have been attracting pilots of various levels of proficiency from the Bay Area to share experiences and information. 

Our first meeting of the year brought a number of new faces to the group. The topic of the meeting included a presentation by Lloyd Stevens, a seasoned pilot; about the weather sites (‘WX’ in pilot shorthand) he uses as he reviews current and forecasted weather. Herb Patten and Michael Vowles also presented a trip report for the Boonville airport, D83.

Lloyd’s presentation included a number of links that he uses when performing pre-flight planning. His principle site is  Lloyd also shared some useful tips about flying to the Sierras and in particular to Bishop.  He frequently makes flights to Bishop and his insights and knowledge of the area were of interest to the group.  A list of the links Lloyd uses was posted to the group’s web site.

One of the group’s members shared a link to a site he developed that displays on a single page a compilation of weather information and images he considers important when doing a SF Bay Tour. Check it out at

The trip report is a new feature to the group that will be part of each meeting. They provide other pilots information about a specific airport including flight planning and observations about the airport. Useful information such as where to find transient parking and what to see and do when you reach the airport provided members of the group first-hand information for consideration. Herb and Michael’s report from Boonville included tips about approaching and landing at the airport along with a review of the Buckhorn restaurant which is about a mile walk from the airport. The full details have been posted to the web site

A key benefit to this group is the opportunity to share information and meet other pilots – those interested in becoming a pilot, student pilots, or pilots with their license. We invite any interested pilot to our next meeting to be held on February 4th at 7:00 PM at WVFC San Carlos. The topic for discussion at the next meeting will be:

·       Personal Minimums – what new pilots should consider when establishing personal minimums

·       Trip Report –Palm Springs, PSP

Everyone is welcome to the meeting! In addition to some food 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 presentation from this session is posted on this group site.

 Please contact or  if you would like additional information.

Matt Debsky, Aircraft Owner WVFC 

Icing Lesson

In the October 2011 WVFC Newsletter, I wrote about my first trip from the Bay Area to Corvallis, Oregon.  That trip convinced me that if I wanted to make travel via a small plane safe and somewhat predictable, I needed to get my instrument rating.  Less than a year after that trip, I had my freshly minted instrument rating in hand.  Eager to put the hard-won rating to work, I planned a trip with two friends to Portland, Oregon.  I don't especially recall the trip to Portland, though my logbook shows 0.2 hours of actual, so I must have been in the clouds at some point.  Already the rating was paying off! 

After a weekend in Portland visiting bookstores, markets, and small breweries, my friends and I piled back into the Piper Archer for our return to the Bay Area.  My recollection of the day is one of light rain and layered clouds; the online METAR archive backs this up (  The freezing level was between 6,500 and 7,500 feet.  Given the layered clouds, I wasn't planning to spend a lot of time in them and was not concerned with icing.  We took off out of the Portland area and headed south.  Before reaching Eugene, roughly in the center of the state, we were spending considerable time in the clouds.  During the periods we weren't in instrument conditions, I interrupted my scan to see ice forming on the leading edge of the wings.  I informed the controller of this, and could tell from the tone of his voice that he thought it was a bigger problem than I did.  He quickly gave us a new routing and assigned a lower altitude.  Descending back below the freezing level and out of the clouds, the ice quickly melted.

In order for us to continue on our path to California over the Siskiyou Mountains, we would need to climb to 10,000 feet.  This would mean entering the clouds again, along with their potential icing. Working with the controller, I elected to begin a climb well north of the mountains.  That way, if the ice returned we would be able to descend to warmer, clearer air instead of being forced into the mountains.  Fortunately, as we climbed back into the clouds the Archer continued her steady ascent without any additional ice and we popped into sunlight for our trip across the border.

I reviewed the flight after making it back to the Bay Area.  I mentioned that the controller sounded more concerned about the ice than I was.  That was because I didn't have an appreciation for how quickly ice accumulation can become a big problem.  The Archer is not an especially powerful aircraft.  Ice could have accumulated quickly enough that the weight and aerodynamic dirtying effects could have caused the plane to be unable to maintain altitude.  Working to get out of the icing conditions as quickly as possible gave us options, including landing at an airport short of the mountains to wait for more favorable weather conditions or choosing a route with fewer clouds.  Following that flight, I have paid more attention to the freezing level, even if I believed I wouldn't be in the presence of visible moisture.  I also made sure that I had a Plan B and Plan C ready if I did happen upon icing conditions.  Additionally, I review the Aviation Weather Center Icing products ( to help determine the icing potential at different altitudes.  My first icing encounter taught me to pay more attention to icing potential and freezing levels, and reinforced again the importance of constantly evaluating en route conditions and alternative plans.