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September 2013 Newsletter

Steve Blonstein, General Manager WVFC

Fuel Service by WVFC

The WVFC Board of Directors and management team want to inform the membership about an exciting development for the club.  We have entered into an agreement with our landlords, Roy Aero, to manage the Palo Alto Fuel Service business (Phillips 66 brand).  We will be operating the business end to end, i.e. from the time the fuel tanker delivers a load of fuel to the fuel farm, until the fuel is delivered to individual planes and everything in between. 

Why we are choosing to do this, and how can the club and membership benefit?  The management team and the Board of Directors spent many hours discussing the possibilities and came to the unanimous conclusion that this was a great opportunity for the club and one we should pursue.

Improved service.  WVFC already consumes about 40%-50% of the fuel sold by Palo Alto Fuel Service, so much of the fuel employee time is spent at or around WVFC planes.  We want to leverage this time and provide a better level of service to these planes whether it is windshield washing, checking tire inflation, verifying oil supplies etc.  Also, fuel service is provided over extended hours from 7AM to 7PM during the summer months.  We will be able to leverage that extra time over our normal 9AM-5PM hours and have club staff be available for a greater amount of time during the day.

Economics.  While the fuel business is a low margin business (not that our regular business is high margin), there should be some opportunities available to offer fuel discounts to owners and club members with their own planes.  Until we get a better handle on the economics of the fuel business, it’s too early to tell how much and how often these discounts can and will be offered.  We’re still a not for profit flying club, so any financial gain recognized from running the fuel service will be returned to the membership in one form or another.

Security of Supply.   By operating the Palo Alto Fuel Service, we are able to better control access and delivery of Avgas to our fleet.  The avgas business is very niche, with only a couple of refineries making the fuel, and a limited number of distributors handling it.  As long as fuel is flowing at the refinery and to the distributor then we are next in line for supply i.e. our fleet has better security of supply than it did before.

The planned date of transfer of the operation is October 1, 2013.  The existing Palo Alto Fuel Service employees (there are 3 of them) will become WVFC employees. They will report to the Member Service Team, headed by Ashley Porath.  Please welcome them and make them feel a part of our club.  We’re confident that the synergies between the two operations are great, so we can further improve the overall experience for all members at the club.

Fly Safe.


Lindell Wilson, WVFC CFI

Finding Best Glide

How many pilots practice finding best glide attitude and speed? If your answer is, only for a flight review or test, consider reading this article.

The best glide is generally the speed where Lift/Drag ratio is maximized, resulting in the best forward distance for altitude lost. The Airplane Flight Manual (AFM after March 1979) includes several graphs or tables illustrating the best glide speed at different aircraft weights and configurations. The best glide is actually a function of Angle of Attack (AoA), but our light aircraft do not have an AoA indicator, so we use airspeed as a substitute.

What is the best technique to quickly get the airplane to the best glide speed? The key is to establish and hold the right aircraft attitude!

Military pilots learn early in their training (especially in fighters) if the engine fails, PITCH immediately down to a pilot memorized visual (out the window) attitude which approximates the best glide attitude. GA pilots can use this same technique to immediate establish a best glide attitude if necessary. This technique is particularly useful when quick-reaction time is required, for example power loss immediately after takeoff during climb-out. In normal cruise flight, the pilot may choose initially to pitch up to reduce airspeed and momentarily gain altitude as the aircraft trades kinetic energy (airspeed) for increased altitude. The Reno air racers have mastered this technique.  The pilot then establishes the memorized best glide attitude.

On your next flight, find and memorize the best glide attitude for your aircraft.


Dave Fry, WVFC CFI and Aviation Safety Counselor

“It’s OK; it’s Not Your Fault”


Have you seen or heard the ads?  It seems that being overweight, having brittle and unmanageable hair, low sex drive, and any number of other things that seem to ail the listeners or watchers of particular shows “… isn’t your fault.”  As if a daily intake of 3500 calories and a sedentary lifestyle is the result of someone else holding a gun to one’s head to make one fat.

Pilots, by their very nature, tend to be pretty independent people – it’s hard not to be when you’re out there over the Sierras by yourself.  Pilots also, and I guess it’s just a part of being independent, occasionally have control issues.  I mean, who of us would rather sit in back and have someone else up front with the controls.

Now these two concepts aren’t exactly compatible.  I mean, if you want to be in control, how can things that go wrong be anything other than your fault?    Sure, if’ there’s a mechanical failure or problem, perhaps it isn’t your fault, but if you look at the NTSB statistics, mechanical failures account for a really small percentage of accidents.

Granted, I’ve never had the pleasure of sitting in the Chief Pilot’s chair, but as an occasional GM, and remediation pilot, I’ve noticed that club members that have had accidents fit into two categories:  Those that find any number of “reasons” the accident happened (none of which were their fault, of course), and those that admit they made a mistake, regret their actions, and learn something significant from it.

Sure, things happen during almost every flight, and we have to deal with them.  Just like a landing, where you may have an idea of what the winds are (from the ATIS, the windsock, or the waves on the water), but you can’t take that preconceived notion into the touchdown; you respond to the conditions that actually exist, not those you forecast.   More specifically, a perfect flight is so rare that in something over 13,000 hours of flight time, I’ve never had one.   And ego aside (and I admit to having one, though I don’t have a “DAMN I’M GOOD” bumper sticker), I don’t think I’m the only one still striving for the perfect flight.

So every flight involves a continual process of changing from “not perfect” toward “perfect”, the definition of which seems to vary from person to person.  Still, there are times that the adjustment gets made a bit late, or a little slow, or a little small, and things get interesting and the heart stops pumping blood and starts circulating straight adrenalin.  In most cases, this doesn’t involve paperwork or bent metal, and if we’re lucky/clever/disciplined, we learn something from the situation.  It could be something as simple as “don’t do that again”, or it may be a much deeper truth about flying or our own technique.

Sometimes, it DOES involve paperwork and bent metal, and those were the ones I saw as GM or as a remediation pilot.  Fortunately, most of the pilots I had to remediate had already had spent a sleepless night of two thinking about what went wrong, how it happened and how to avoid it in the future.  They had already reached the point that the remediation was intended to reach – they knew they had made a mistake, they knew what the mistake was, and they knew how to keep it from happening again.  And that made my job as a remediation pilot really easy.  It also affirmed that this was the kind of person we wanted in the club – they were much safer pilots after the problem than before.

On the other hand, I have had a couple (and other remediation pilots tell me the same story) that blame everyone other than themselves.  One extreme case was a pilot that ran out of fuel and blamed the airplane for running rich – as if it didn’t have a mixture control, and as if he hadn’t flown past five airports AFTER noticing that he was low on fuel.  He apparently believed today’s television message, “It’s not your fault.”

However, if you can take responsibility for your actions when things go wrong, not only can you learn from them, you can take responsibility for your actions when things go right!

Celebrate your successes – they ARE yours.  When you pull off a smooth flight in rough conditions because you knew where the bumps would be and avoided them, when you do a great landing, when you hold your altitude within 20 feet, when your flight (despite ATC’s “help”) takes EXACTLY as long as you planned, in fact, when ANYTHING goes right, take credit for it.  Enjoy it; you earned it just as surely as any mature pilot accepts responsibility for things that go wrong.

Student and New Pilot Group

September 2013 Meeting Report

The Student and New Pilot group held its September meeting at the West Valley San Carlos classroom on Monday September 9th – the group usually meets the first Monday of every month, but since last Monday was Labor Day, we moved the meeting one week. As we fast approach the second year anniversary of the existence of the group, these meetings have been attracting various pilots from the Bay Area that meet to share information and experiences.

The featured topics for the September meeting were presentation and discussions on the following topics:

·       The Flight Review – What to expect 

·       VFR Destination – Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

·       VFR Destination – San Diego, CA

Nariman Farsaie, CFI, spoke to the group with respect to the objectives of the Flight Review, formerly known as a biennial flight review, or BFR for short. The purpose of the flight review as required by Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) 61.56 is to provide for a regular evaluation of pilot skills and aeronautical knowledge. The regulation leaves the actual content of the flight review up to each CFI specifying a requirement that it must include at a minimum one hour of ground training and one hour of flight training. Nariman explained that he begins the flight review process by having a conversation with the pilot to understand their type of flying including destinations and frequency of flights. This provides insights to Nariman into which areas he will probe during the flight review. The overriding goal of the flight review is safety – to ensure that the pilot is able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the regulations as well as demonstrate that he / she is a safe pilot and making reasonable decisions.

In a continuing series of favorite discussion topics, trip reports from members, Michael Vowles provided the team with an in-depth report of his flight to Victoria, British Columbia (CYYJ) in early August in a G1000 equipped Cessna 182.  Michael highlighted the multiple activities required and challenges to successfully launch a flight of almost 700 NM, but also of crossing an international border. The presentation included the various prerequisites and legal requirements to exit and re-enter the United States in a general aviation aircraft. The group was surprised to learn that you need to purchase a ‘sticker’ for the aircraft from the US Customs and Border Protection Agency prior to exiting the United States.  This sticker, which is on some of the club planes, actually is only valid for a year and you need to verify if the current sticker is still valid since there is no printed expiration date. Michael also shared some ‘tips and tricks’ on how to successfully use the eAPIS system to make the border crossing more seamless and less of a burden.

Lastly, Stoo Davies presented his recent flight to San Diego to Montgomery Airport (KMYF) in a Cessna 182 equipped with the G1000. He shared with us his route planning (fly high and direct) as well as his approach to navigating the complex Los Angeles Bravo airspace.  Stoo recommended flying high - above the Bravo, but mentioned that even at that altitude above the Bravo, he seemed to speak to a new controller about every 90 seconds.  After the LAX transition, Stoo shared some tips on making the approach into Montgomery and how it is common for pilots to mistake Miramar Airport (KNXX) for KMYF since they look very similar. Stoo recommends that you identify both airports – and not just one, to ensure that you do not make the mistake.  Although it is not the policy of the New Pilot Support Group to promote a particular airport FBO, Stoo had a very good experience with Gibbs Flying Service upon both arrival and departure.

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, October 7th, at 7:00 PM at the San Carlos Flight Center.

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

Tips for new student pilots including local airport customs, study tips and flight gadgets

Trip report from Coeur d’Alene, ID

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


Noise abatement procedures at other airports

Often times when going to a new airport there will be a note about noise abatement procedures. For example the AFD may have a note that says “Noise abatement procedures in effect - ctc arpt manager”.

Calling the airport manager can be burdensome since they are not always there sitting at their phone waiting to answer your question.

Sometimes noise abatement procedures can be found online on the airport’s web site and are in various formats. In a recent FAA Safety session I ran across a new web site that is targeting to be a central place where airports can document the noise abatement procedures and pilots can have a single source to obtain them.

Whispertrack, a firm based in Truckee, CA, just released the first ever online content management and distribution platform that allows airports to create, manage, centralize, publish, print, and electronically distribute airport noise abatement procedures. Whispertrack also claims to integrate with ForeFlight but I have been unable to find out how that works.

This site is not complete as a number of airports, e.g. RHV, MRY are listed with the note that states: "The airport is currently updating their noise abatement procedures. Noise abatement procedures will be available soon."

Nevertheless, this seems like a great direction. Check out 

Driving the airplane to and from the runway is a piece of cake, right? Think again.

It was a beautiful day, light winds and clear skies as I departed KSQL in Skyhawk 31CN. I flew to KHAF for a gentle landing with pacific views, honed in on the Woodside VOR, then over to KPAO for pattern work and back to KSQL.  Ten landings, nose up and on the center line. GUMP in the pattern, checklists for short and soft field landings, and my comms work was spot on. Solid practice for a budding private pilot with 120 hours.

That’s what I was thinking as I taxied back via Juliet. As I turned right down Juliet parking I was on the centerline and had my eyes on the empty slot that 31CN calls home. Keeping my eyes to the left, I was measuring the moment I would be abeam the plane in the neighboring stall and pull to a stop to commence shutdown procedures. That’s when I felt it, a light jolt on the right side of the plane just as I stopped. I looked to my right and saw the fuel truck parked at the side of the hangar. Where did that come from?

Fortunately for me, the right wingtip hit the protruding passenger side view mirror. The mirror collapsed backwards and no damage was caused to the fuel truck. Damage was also light on 31CN, in the hundreds of dollars. However, 31CN was out of commission for more than a week as the new fairing was in transit. Owners lost out on rental dollars and pilots had one less plane to fly. I know how frustrating it can be to want to fly, but not have a plane available. I break out in a sweat of embarrassment every time I think of it. Knowing that my complacency was the cause.

Complacency and automacity are two terms that define the taxiing pilot’s worst enemy. Complacency: self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies; Automacity: the act of processing without awareness, the performance of a task without attention to the details.

Many pilots appear to have the attitude that a flight begins with takeoff and ends when the airplane lands and departs the runway. However, as in my case, ground operations certainly cause their share of grief. There are three primary factors that encourage the mental and physical side of complacency, they are:

1.     Fatigue

2.     Too many things happening simultaneously

3.     Too few things happening

Mental workload limits impact one’s ability to pay attention. First, workload resources may be pushed beyond their reasonable limit. If too many things are happening at the same time, that person has to divert his or her attention from one task to another. He or she can be “spread thin.” This situation leads to reduced attention and/or selective focus. We have a tendency to complete pre-take-off checks, set up our GPS, review a map or departure procedures, enter squawk codes, and talk to passengers while taxiing. If the other tasks we are doing are taking up all of our attention, we should not be doing them.

At the same time, a person may have too little to do. A situation may seem boring, with little activity occurring. Or a task may seem routine, having been done by a person a hundred times before. However, you should remember, there is always a danger waiting around the next turn.

I recently read an article that described a zone that we should live, work, and play in. An in-between state the author calls ‘creative tension’. The analogy he gave likened shooting a rubber band at a target to our live, work, and play lives. Pull the band back to lightly and it flops to the ground (complacency), pull back to tightly and it snaps (fatigue), pull back just right and you hit the target. The in-between is creative tension and that is where we perform at our best.

Battle complacency and automacity by existing in creative tension (at least while operating an airplane), and avoid lessons learned the hard way. To conclude this short, personal lesson I would like to offer a few taxiing tips and provide a link to the USDOT Advisory Circular on FARS Part 91 and Part 135 - Single Pilot Procedures During Taxi Operations:

Hitting the side view mirror of a fuel truck is no accident, it is pilot error. Don’t be complacent! Operate in the creative tension zone.

The faster we taxi, the less time we have for making judgments in tight areas, we cannot turn as tight, and stop as quickly.

Ramps and taxiways are often busy places and there are very few rules. We must expect the unexpected.

Always check your brakes at the commencement of the taxi. You rely more on them for taxi than for landing.

Always give yourself adequate room to turn. The wings take a lot of room (also, don’t forget the wings may clear objects, the tail may not).

When approaching a taxiway or ramp, stop all other tasks and look out.

Treat every entrance to a ramp or taxiway, and every intersection of taxiways, as uncontrolled intersections. That is what they are. Look before entering.$FILE/AC91-73A.pdf


Safe Flying.