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July 2013 Newsletter

Steve Blonstein, General Manager WVFC


Some members may remember our old web site, and most will want to forget it.   There were a couple of redeeming features that we lost in the transformation to the new web site; one of those being a part of the bulletin board.  There was a board dedicated to “Destinations”, where members could post information about their trips to various places, and a discussion could get going about that destination.  While we don’t have the discussion ability on the new web site, we have launched a section in the Members Area aptly named “Destinations”.  Members have started submitting mini-presentations on various cool places to go, how to get there, what to do when you get there, where to stay, where to eat, FBOs, rental cars, crew cars etc.

I think that many members treat far away locations with a little trepidation and probably rightfully so.  There’s quite a lot of planning required, and everyone wants to make the trip worthwhile given the planning, time, and money required for the trip.  Most members like the idea of seeking advice, and while there are other sources out there, there’s something unique and special about getting inside information from another club member.

It’s in its early days and there are a handful of presentations already up on the website including Big Bear Lake-CA, Shelter Cove-CA, Sedona-AZ, and Bandon-OR, and more.  Each presentation is in the form of a few PowerPoint slides saved in a pdf format for easy download and viewing.  If you’re willing and able to add to the collection from either past or future trips, then please make and submit the presentation to me at Over time, the plan is to build this area up as a major new resource on our new web site.

You can visit the new Destinations page by going to the Member’s Area of the web site and clicking on the icon “Destinations”.

Safe Flying

From the Desk of the Chief

Jesse Gamueda, Chief Pilot WVFC

How Time Flies!

Wow, I am amazed about how fast time has flown by in my tenure at West Valley!

That being said, I am just now coming into what it means to understand the safety culture at this club.  It varies from where I’ve been in a few ways, and is also very much what I am accustomed too.

I’ve had an opportunity to meet airport officials, our local FSDO FAA reps, other chief pilots, most of the flight instructors and a lot of the membership.

This position reminds me of my serving in a law enforcement capacity as a servant to the community.  However that being said, I need your help.  In the law enforcement arena there were two typical ways of “policing” if you will.  There was the proactive stance and the reactive response.  I am hoping that in the coming months we will start developing a proactive stance to our “safety” culture.  I’m sure you were thinking that I was going to ask you to police one another, and in some small way I am. 

To say this club is enormous is an understatement.  100 pilots is a lot of responsibility, 500 enormous and 900, nearly impossible. This is where I am asking you to step in.  I’ve written about most of the things that I am going to ask you to do for the club now.

1.)   Make sure that all of your documents are in order – For the membership this means current medical, plates, charts and updates for tablets.  For flight instructors this means that your CFI certificate and medical are current. 

2.)   Please bring ANYTHING to our attention!  This includes aircraft that seem to have issues, other pilots who are not handling aircraft well, or any small thing that you may not even think matters. Believe me, it matters to us!

3.)   Stay abreast of anything general aviation.  We are constantly looking for ways to improve.  I’m sure for those of you that send us concerns and don’t get a quick response, may be a little frustrated by this comment.  I am not making an excuse, but please understand that we are working with a lot of CFI’s, membership, government officials at all levels (local, state and federal).

4.)   Positive Control of Guests.  I am reminding the membership of this because this has become a hot button at San Carlos, but still applies to Palo Alto as well!  Do not give out gate security codes to anyone!  Including family/friends!  Keep your guests in your sight at all times and do not allow them to roam off anywhere.

5.)   We’ve just started installing spot specific chocks at the Palo Alto airport where space is tight.  If you’ve gone past these chocks during pushback be advised that you may end up striking another static aircraft.  This has happened a few times at the club this year.  This also allows you to keep an eye on how far back the aircraft needs to go.

6.)   For those of you checked out in the Cirrus, do not leave the oil cap off under any circumstances! If you need oil, replace the plug and the cap, retrieve a quart and then replace immediately after filling.  We’ve had a few incidents where oil filler caps were not replaced and then oil was blown all over the interior of the cowl and down the side of the plane.  Thank God that no one was injured during any of these incidents!

7.)   Currency for the majority of the fleet is 90 days. 60 days for the tailwheels and complex aircraft. 60 days and 30 days for the Pitts.  Maintaining currency in the aircraft does us all a favor.  It helps you maintain being a safe pilot.  And here is a regulation that you may not have known.  Doing your takeoffs and landings at night makes you day current as well.  However flying and landing during the day does not make you night current.  Any of our flight instructors would love to help you out if your currency expires!

These are just a few of the common sense reminders that I would ask of our membership and the instructors.  I am pleasantly surprised with my time here at West Valley Flying Club. 

I’ve been a dancer all of my life and my coaches always remind me, the basics are your bread and butter.  All complex styling will come from being great at the fundamentals! 

So in closing, I have plenty of topics that I could write about, but I would rather you stay proactive in your approach to basic safety and hope that these few little tips will remind you of what’s important, especially over the summer months!  I am not in any way, shape, or form asking you to “snitch” on one another. Rather help one another out in a time where we could use all the help we can get at the “club”.  900 pilots working towards one goal far outweighs what a single chief pilot can do!

As always I appreciate and thank you for taking the time to read my article!

Regardless, my door is always open, 1-5 M-F, feel free any time to come let us know how we’re doing!  Good or Bad!


In recent news, one of our very own West Valley pilot's, Sam Cossman, has launched an adventure based start-up called Qwake .    The company provides a platform that helps bring to life new experiences.  Inspired by his passion for aviation, he has offered the Bay Area pilot community early access to the company's first exciting campaign – Parahawking.  It is an innovative hybrid sport that combines the ancient art of falconry with modern techniques of paragliding.  We're excited to share the unique tandem opportunity with our West Valley members, so be a pioneer, and help launch the country's first parahawking venture!  The parahawking video has received over 5 million hits on youtube so space will be limited,  For more information, please visit the following link: or visit  to stay in the loop with more exciting adventures coming soon.


Lloyd Stephens, Aircraft Owner and Board Member WVFC   

Take Care of Those Planes

Many flying clubs do not provide insurance that protects members who rent planes--West Valley does.  In case of loss or damage to the planes, or damage to other property, members are covered by our insurance policies to the limit of the policy (with the exception of the deductible--and the club allows you to purchase a deductible waiver to cover that as well).  

Though the club negotiates the cost of these policies with our insurance agent, it is not the club but the owners of the aircraft who pay the premiums.  As you might expect, insurance for club aircraft is considerably more expensive than insuring your own personal aircraft.  WVFC has a considerable history of safe flying, which has resulted in the rates for our insurance being very favorable.  During 2012, however, club members had a number of incidents that resulted in insurance claims.  

The club's insurance policies come up for renewal on July 1 of every year, and we were concerned that our policy rates for this year could be raised as a result of last year's claims.  Because of our history of safe flying, though, we were able to renew our policies at the same rate as last year.  We were advised, however, that we cannot continue to have the number of claims we had during 2012 without having our rates raised.  This is not only of concern to the aircraft owners, but also to every member, because the rate you pay to fly the aircraft is likely to go up if the insurance rates go up.  The owners can't fly along with you to make sure that you are flying safely and are taking good care of the aircraft.  We have to depend on each of you to do so independently.  And so, we ask you to please use good judgment, fly safely, and bring the aircraft back in one piece. Thanks!


Lindell Wilson, WVFC CFI

Low and Slow

This week greeted us with the tragic flight 214 into SFO. Much has been reported by the press and NTSB conferences. The focus in the last several days has been on Flight Crew Management (CRM), Pilot Interaction with Automation (PIA), and finally flight crew to the outside of the cockpit (i.e. CFIT, Controlled Flight Into Terrain). The following articles discuss important background to our flight planning and situational awareness.

CRM - Wikipedia has a good article on Crew Resource Management. “CRM aims to foster a climate or culture where the freedom to respectfully question authority is encouraged. However, the primary goal of CRM is enhanced situational awareness, self awareness, leadership, assertiveness, decision making, flexibility, adaptability, event and mission analysis, and communication.”

PIA - Pilot Interaction with AutomationThe events within the scenario were designed to probe pilots' ability to apply their knowledge and understanding in specific flight contexts and to examine their ability to track the status and behavior of the automated system (mode awareness).”

CFIT - Controlled Flight Into Terrain - In many CFIT accidents, the pilots were in contact with air traffic control (ATC) at the time of the accident and receiving radar service.

The pilots and controllers involved all appear to have been unaware that the aircraft was in danger.

Increased altitude awareness (low and slow) and better preflight planning would likely have prevented all of these accidents.

Happy Flying!


Dave Fry, WVFC CFI and Aviation Safety Counselor

One Potato, Two Potato (One Radial Engine Just Isn’t Enough)

As you may remember, a couple of episodes ago, I reported on flying a Beaver on floats – something I’d wanted to do for years.  The engine, when idling correctly during warm-up says, “potato” to the pilot.

If one potato is good, two potatoes have to be better.  And recently, I had the chance to check that out.  A charter came up to Prescott, Arizona and I drew the short straw.  Now, even for a guy raised in Kansas, Prescott (with apologies to Embry Riddle) is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  So, just as I did when assigned the one-week trip to Winner, Nebraska, I began to cast around for alternatives.

My criterion for places to stay (in addition to staying within the cost guidelines) is that there has to be something really fun to do, and it usually involves hikes, airplanes, books, or bikes.  With a bit of research, I found a Beech Model 18 on floats not far from Laughlin, Nevada.  Rooms were not a problem as there are several casinos in Laughlin, and I got logged into Harrah’s for less than $30/night.  I’ve stayed at places that charged more than that for parking!

The Beech 18 is at Sheble, a flight school in SoCal and Arizona.  Most flying clubs and schools don’t have seaplanes, but it’s a bit of a specialty for them.  It’s a drive from Harrah’s to the Beech 18, as it’s just east of Needles, CA, but staying in Needles was exactly as attractive as staying in Prescott.  So having reserved some time on it, I drove down the day before to checkout the plane and get a chance to review the POH (they didn’t look like today’s POHs back then).  When I got there, the plane was out of the water and on removable wheels.  Let’s start with basics, here – this is a BIG airplane.  At gross weight, it comes in at nearly as heavy as a Pilatus (just under 9,000 pounds for the Beech 18).


Now, my experience with sea planes includes climbing onto floats when the plane is parked at a dock, a launching ramp, or on a couple of occasions, parked on an airport (in the case of amphibian seaplanes).  So when I arrived the day of my flight, I find the plane in the water (expected) and moored at a buoy a quarter mile away from the dock.  When you fly seaplanes you expect to get wet, so rather than being attired in my normal sartorial splendor, I had shorts, joggers, and a disreputable t-shirt, which still was a bit formal for seaplanes in 90+ degree temps.  Still, I hadn’t planned to swim to the plane.

Fortunately, Joe (my instructor, and the plane’s owner) had a “boat” to take us out to the plane.  It’s actually a barge with an engine and a seat.  I was curious, of course, about the configuration.  I mean, why not your basic motor boat?  Turns out, there is a good reason.  We approached the plane from the rear and actually drove the barge under the plane, tied them together and drove the plane over to the nearest beach for the preflight and slosh around (instead of a walk around).  Among other things, this involved pumping out the water that had accumulated in the floats – fortunately, this was done with an electric pump as several gallons of water were involved.  Also, since these are radial engines, there is a lot of oil leaking, and (proactively) Joe had a couple of 5-gallon buckets under them to collect the seepage.

Engine oil, by the way, is checked by climbing out the top of the cockpit and going out onto the wings.

The cockpit is an interesting blend of old and new, with steam gauges and a surfeit of knobs, levers, and switches and an anachronistic WAAS-enabled Gamin 430.  As I slid into the pilot seat, I tried to solve two of the great mysteries of flight: where are the headset plugs, and where is the avionics master.  Most everything else on a plane is in standard locations, but there seems to be a lot of creativity in where these are placed.  Headset plugs were main panel, lower left, but the avionics master was just a random (and unmarked) switch.

As I looked around the cockpit, I looked at the rudder pedals – they looked familiar.  Dredging into long-term memory, I was able to pull out the fact that they were exactly the same as those in a Baron, and like the early Barons, the throttle was in the middle of the power quadrant, with the prop controls to the left and mixture controls to the right.

With water rudders up (to keep them out of the sand/mud mixture that is the shoreline), we started the engines. This, in multi engine seaplanes is always interesting because of the asymmetrical thrust of starting one engine before the other – you WILL begin turning.  And it’s not like you can hold the brakes.  You can try, but it doesn’t do anything other than cramping your calves.

Fortunately for the warm-up process (it takes a long time with 5 gallons of oil) the taxi out of Pirate’s Cove onto the Colorado River takes several minutes, all the while listening to the twin “potato rhythms’.  The normal (for a seaplane) run-up follows with the wheel held full aft and the plane in “plow” mode going along the river while mags, carb heat, and prop controls are checked.

In addition to the normal takeoff checks seaplanes add FFAR, which breaks down into Fuel, Flaps, Area (it’s not like there is a runway, and the area is full of motor boats, sail boats, water skiers, and jet skis), and Rudders (in this case, water rudders, which need to be up for takeoff and landing).  Full power for the takeoff is 35 inches of Manifold Pressure and high RPM – and it WILL over boost if not watched.  Like the Beaver, the Beech 18 has a HUGE sweet spot for liftoff at around 60 MPH.  The only thing I found a bit uncomfortable was the prospect of lifting one float out of the water with ailerons (glassy water takeoff) in a low wing plane.  But it worked well, and no cartwheels were involved.

With the exception of some upper air work like steep turns, stall recoveries, and slow flight, most of the flight was spent at 1000 AGL or less, performing normal, rough water, glassy water and confined space takeoffs and landings.  Some were full stop; some were splash and dash (the aquatic equivalent of touch and go), though after the landing instead of immediately piling in full power, we went into a step taxi, stabilized everything, and then brought in more power for takeoff.

Very much like the Baron and the Bonanza, the control response is very light even though the plane isn’t.

Bottom line, I enjoyed the experience enough that I intend to go back to complete an ATP multi-engine sea rating.


Student and New Pilot Group

Preflight MX Challenge!

The Student and New Pilot group met at the West Valley Palo Alto Maintenance hangar July 1st. These meetings have been attracting various pilots from the Bay Area that meet to share information and experiences. The activity for the July meeting was a staged pre-flight challenge.

David Vital, WVFC Director of Maintenance, staged a Piper Archer with a number of inoperative and airworthiness deficiencies. The challenge was to conduct a preflight inspection to determine how many of these could be identified. The staged issues included loose inspection plates, expired aircraft registration, missing weight & balance, foreign debris in the cowling and others.  It was a great experience to see how well your pre-flight routine works and to sharpen your observation skills. In addition, this was the first time several members got an exposure to a Piper airplane and had a chance to see which things are the same and which things are different.

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 be aware that our next meeting on August 5th at 7:00 PM will be at the WVFC San Carlos location.

The August meeting topic will be: Angel Flight West.

Come to the meeting to hear about how the Angel Flight program works. We will have a short video presentation to explain the program and we will be joined by Mike, an Angel Flight pilot, who has flown many missions. Learn how Angel Flight fills a critical need in transporting patients so that they can receive the care that they need.

Everyone, whatever and wherever you fly is welcome. In addition to same 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.

Matt Debsky, Aircraft Owner WVFC

iPad In The Cockpit

 I don't know why it took me this long to embrace using my iPad in the cockpit. I've long used it for flight planning, weather briefings, and when flying with clients as a CFI.  However, I hadn't used it anywhere near to its full capacity as an in-flight aid.  It took me awhile to decide on the iPad's cockpit setup.  Once my iPad setup was finally complete, I experienced two flights that changed my flying life--a recent cross-country trip to southern California and a practice IFR flight shortly beforehand.  


Before I could effectively utilize the iPad, I had software and mounting decisions to make.  There are numerous mounting solutions on the market and some due diligence will help determine your best fit. I fly my own airplane, N81034, more often than any other club airplane.  So, when looking for an iPad mounting solution I searched for something that would work first and foremost in an Archer.  Based on Aviation Consumer reviews and various Piper forums, I found a RAM Mount to be perfect.  The mount attaches to the tube behind the yoke, wraps beneath and around the front to sit between the two handles that form the sides of the yoke.  This arrangement leaves my knees free, provides for ample range of motion, doesn't impact my copilot seat, and leaves all the windows and instrument panel unobstructed.  

Software choices are likewise plentiful. The most popular iPad aviation apps all offer free trials.  I tried the Seattle Avionics FlyQ EFB, Garmin Pilot, and ForeFlight before deciding that ForeFlight met my needs best.  Due to varying tastes, it's worth checking out two or three (or more) apps before deciding on one.  They all offer similar features, but the app navigation, presentation, and extra features will cause one to stick out as your favorite.  I also purchased a Garmin GLO external GPS/GLONASS receiver.  A remote receiver improves the quality of the GPS data delivered to the iPad, adds a GPS if your iPad does not have one, and eliminates the battery draw and heat production of the iPad internal GPS.  While not essential, I found the advantages worth the $120 purchase price.  As with the apps, there are several different external GPS receivers with substantial differences, so do some research into which unit best meets your needs.

IFR Practice Flight

My first experience using the iPad in the cockpit during one of my own flights was a game changer.   I have used Jeppesen plates and charts for my IFR needs since the beginning of my IFR training.  The 10-pound, 3-inch binder and bi-weekly updates have been a fixture of my flying life for the past eight years.  Prior to each flight, I had to go through the binder and pull the plates and charts I might need during the flight.  At the conclusion of the flight I would dutifully file them away.  With ForeFlight, for ease of organization in flight I pulled the plates I would use into a virtual binder.  During the flight, I just tapped the plate I needed, much easier than trying to manipulate the clip board on a missed approach, winding up with approach plates all over the cockpit by the conclusion of the flight.  I purchased the Pro version of ForeFlight, which comes with geo-referenced approach plates.  So, I could watch as the controller vectored me onto final or more clearly visualize what my holding pattern entry should be.  The ease of switching between plates, runway diagram, and enroute chart blew me away.  In addition to adding to situational awareness and being easier to keep organized, the flight was just more fun.

Cross-country Flight

My subsequent trip to southern California built on the experiences with the IFR practice flight.  I did my flight planning using the ForeFlight app and used a combination of the old GX60 panel-mount GPS in the plane and the iPad for navigation.  My flight transitioned the Los Angeles class Bravo, so I did carry a paper Terminal Area Chart for ease of reference while following the various assigned Bravo transition routes.  For this first "real" flight, I had two concerns about the iPad: battery life and overheating.  I did not want to wind up in instrument conditions and have my source of charts go blank.  To my pleasant surprise, battery life was not an issue.  Through judicious use of dimming and only turning the iPad on when I needed it, I landed with 75% or more battery remaining after both three-hour flights.  During a flight with a client to an airport in the Central Valley, I did experience a case of the iPad overheating.  When this occurs, the unit refuses to power on until it has cooled down.  On that day, the cockpit was hot, the iPad was sitting in my lap, I was using the internal GPS, and the sun was beating directly on the iPad.  My current cockpit setup, with the external GPS, iPad with greater airflow and not resting on my body, and with a sheet of white paper covering the screen when I'm not using it, reduces the likelihood of overheating.  Still, I will carry a backup paper chart and copies of the approach plates for my planned destination and alternate airports for a while to come.  Using the iPad on the cross-country increased my confidence in it and my own ability to navigate the app while flying.  While a thorough pre-flight is still necessary, the information available in one place means that instead of pulling together information from AirNav or the AF/D, Flight Guide or the California Pilots Guide, and any local airport information, one tap brings you to a page with all this information plus the weather from your last briefing including information about the cross-wind components for each runway.


After these two recent flights, the iPad will take a greater role in my cockpit resource management.  Given the WVFC member roster, I imagine I'm a later adopter than most.  If you haven't tried using the iPad in the cockpit yet, I urge you to give it a try.  When doing so for the first time, you may want to ride along as a passenger or have a safety pilot or CFI on board so that you can safely devote additional attention to the new tool.  After a flight or two, you'll wonder why you waited so long to see what all the fuss was about.