More Information‎ > ‎Newsletters‎ > ‎

Student and New Pilot Support Group

Student and New Pilot Group

October Meeting Report


The Student and New Pilot group held its October meeting at the San Carlos Flight Center classroom on Monday October 7th. As we fast approach our second year anniversary in December, we are pleased to report that these meetings are continuing to attract various pilots from the Bay Area that meet to share information and experiences.

The featured topics for the October meeting were presentations and discussions on the following:

·       Destination – Coeur d’Alene, ID (KCOE)

·       Student and New Pilot Group Tips, Tricks & Gadgets

·       ‘Brainstorming’ Session for Upcoming Group Topics

Herb Patten treated the group to a robust and detailed destination report with respect to his recent trip with his wife Kathleen and their dog ‘Sierra’ to Coeur d’Alene, ID.  The Patten family has made the trip annually for the past 3 years since Herb received his private pilot certificate.  For additional comfort and speed, Herb now makes the trip in a Cessna 182 G1000 aircraft allowing for the trip to be completed with a fuel stop in less than 6 hours.  Herb initially filed an IFR flight plan to depart the Bay Area morning low stratus, but later flew VFR for the duration of the flight.

Herb shared a number of tips to keep in mind if you decide to make the trip. One of the key recommendations is that you plan to depart the Bay Area early in the morning to avoid any convective weather activity that may occur during the trip as you fly over the mountains. The ability to leave early in the day is predicated on whether you are able to depart VFR or IFR. If you are not an IFR rated pilot you may not be able to depart early due to the low stratus. In that case, you need to keep the enroute weather in mind since you could be traversing mountain ranges just as the high afternoon heat starts the convective activity. Herb also noted that leaving early tends to give you a smoother ride since turbulence is also linked to the afternoon heat.

With respect to route selection and charts, Herb reminded us that we need to bring the Klamath Falls and Seattle sectional charts. IFR principals, IFR as in ‘I fly roads’, played a key aspect in Herb’s route selection. Instead of flying a straight line from San Carlos to Coeur d’Alene, Herb chose to follow Interstate 5 (I5) to Weed, CA then Highway 97 to Bend, OR. This route provided good landmarks and alternate airports if one should be required. There were also a number of TFRs (temporary flight restriction) areas due to forest fires to the west of Herb’s route which did not impact this planning; however, the smoke generated by these fires did not adhere to the boundaries of the TFR and eventually impacted the flight.  Herb reminded the group that ‘altitude is your friend’ and that the higher altitudes generally offer a smoother ride and gives you flexibility to reach an alternate airport if required.  Bringing along portable oxygen is recommended. The final point of route planning is that you need to include ‘health breaks’ and fuel stops during your flight.

The presentation also provided a number of details about the KCOE airport - one of which include an airport diagram including taxi ways  that Herb created since no airport diagram offered these details. It is also important to note that the airport does not have public restrooms – an important point for flight planning! Herb also provided lots of good information for visitors on what to do and to see in Coeur d‘Alene.   Herb provided recommendations on restaurants as well as other recreational activities such as golfing on a course with a ‘floating’ green – you tee-off from shore and drive your ball onto a floating island and then take a boat to the island to putt on the floating green. 

The second agenda for the evening was a discussion with respect to study tips, tricks, and gadgets. Some of the ‘tips and tricks’ to become a better pilot included:

·       Sign-up for an AOPA student membership

·       Take an online safety course available from AOPA

·       Sign-up to get safety seminars in the area –

·       Go on a tower tour at KSQL

·       Use to listen in on radio communications

·       Sit at the gazebo at KSQL to listen to the tower as well as watch landings and take-offs

·       Get involved in your local club / flight center

·       Get involved in groups such as FOG

·       Fly with another pilot

·       Hang out at the club and listen in on feedback from other flight lessons

·       Become a member of SCAPA (San Carlos Airport Association)

·       Utilize on-line weather tools  and flight planning software

One of the key tips that was discussed and highly emphasized was to attend and contribute to the Student and New Pilot Support Group! This list is continuously growing and will be updated frequently. The complete list can be found on our group’s website (details below).

The final section of the meeting was to discuss upcoming topics.  The most exciting aspect of our group is that the group decides which topics are of interest to them and then facilitates those discussions either by doing the research themselves or arranging for an expert in that area to come and speak to the group.  Some of the upcoming topics suggested by the group for future meetings are as follows:

·       Understanding airplane and pilot insurance

·       Airplane ownership costs and considerations

·       Considerations of fractional ownership

·       Aircraft inspections – the good, bad, and the ugly

·       Breaking in a new engine / rebuilt engine

·       Cockpit management tips

·       Real stories of in flight failures 

·       What should a pilot have in a survival/XC kit

·       Random questions for a CFI

·       Tales from the co-pilot of a commercial / charter pilot

·       Building an experimental aircraft

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, November 4th, at 7:00 PM in the conference room at the San Carlos Airport Administration Building.

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

·       Passenger Management – keeping your passengers from getting stressed

·       Face-to-face with the tower manager

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.