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Student and New Pilot Support Group


January and February Meeting Report

Happy New Year to all students and new pilots! This marks the third year that our group has been meeting. There have been so many great meetings since we started the group in December of 2011 and a tremendous amount of information has been shared. We are excited about all the things planned for 2014. With the change to a quarterly newsletter we will publish the monthly meeting notices and summary to the group email. We encourage anyone interested in participating in this group to register as described at the end of this article.


January Meeting


The Student and New Pilot group held its January 2014 meeting on Monday January 6th. As we kick off the New Year we are pleased to report that these meetings are continuing to attract new pilots from the Bay Area that meet to share information and experiences. The group also has a base of the regulars that tend to always make the meetings

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

  • ·       Careers in Aviation – conversation with Mark Moran, First Officer for SkyWest
  •         Trip Report – KVCB - Nut Tree Airport (Vacaville, CA)
Mark Moran, a former WVFC CFI, provided his insight into the life of a pilot working for an airline. Mark is starting his third year for SkyWest and flies the Embraer EMB 120 Turbo Prop aircraft. He discussed how he approached making the leap from being an instructor to landing a job flying for the airlines. Mark gave insight into the life of an Airline Transport Pilot, ATP, flying for SkyWest. 

He shared with the group the equivalent of the POH for the EMB 120 along with the SkyWest procedures manual. He provided an inside look into the interview process for becoming an airline pilot and what to expect during the first years of working for the airlines. This included the indoctrination process and the intense ground school where you spend the first 3 months learning the systems for a particular aircraft and the SkyWest procedures.

He talked about the importance of learning a standard flow and how airline pilots use flow checks along with a check list to accomplish the required procedures at various stages in flight. Flying for SkyWest usually involves a duty period of four days straight. Mark stated that the EMB 120 is a great aircraft to fly. Even though most of the time spent flying is with the autopilot, he did say the workload is still quite high since you are still monitoring the aircraft as well as dealing with ATC. One of the perks of working for the airlines is the ability to fly almost anywhere when you are off the clock. He has been able to travel quite extensively with this perk. Even though you are on the road and away from home for four days at a time, Mark said with a smile that once you are in the air it is the best job on earth, well in this case in the sky.

The second topic for the evening was a trip report from Nut Tree airport, KVCB, in Vacaville CA. Herb Patten shared his recent flight as part of a Fly Out Group, FOG, Full Moon flight event from December. The presentation highlighted some of the dining options within walking distance of the airport as well as the shortcut path to get to the nearby mall from the airport. He also shared his experience with the night Bay Tour and the transition at night through San Francisco Bravo surface area including an offer by SFO tower to overfly the SFO airport. The presentation is posted to the files area of the Yahoo Student and New Pilot Support Group

The February meeting was held at the West Valley Flying Club San Carlos clubhouse. We had a standing room only crowd for a dazzling presentation by Andrea Bittau. Last year, he took a “dream trip” which covered more than 8,000 NM over a period of a month. His dream trip took him from San Carlos to Miami, out to the Bahamas, then up the east coast to Maine, turning back west to Vancouver (Canada), then finally returning to the Bay Area. His route and various stops are shown in the picture above. 

As you can imagine, a trip of this magnitude is not completed without both some advanced planning as well as some unique experiences. At the beginning of his presentation, Andrea shared with the group some stunning video of the highlights of his trip. This included landing at Las Vegas McCarran airport at night, views from a Hudson River tour, approach into Toronto Island airport, view of Niagara Falls from the air, and various other spectacular landmarks.

It is impossible to summarize the great wealth of information shared during this informative presentation. In addition to a detailed discussion about pre-trip planning, Andrea shared observations on the following key points:

1.     Airports

a.     Big airports can offer great value even to small planes

b.     Big airports present unique challenges to small planes – be prepared

c.     Midway – free pilot room for overnight

d.     Teterboro – great access to local transportation

2.     Mountain Flying

a.     G1000 Aux page can show density altitude

b.     Be careful flying in the afternoon

3.     Flying over water

a.     Stay near boats

b.     Heightened awareness to the engine gauges

c.     Review ditching procedures for your airplane

4.     Restricted airspace

a.     Washington DC SFRA is doable – several unique procedures

b.     Complete the online training and follow the rules

5.     How to ask for the equivalent of a Bay Tour in an unfamiliar area

a.     Give clear description of what you want to do, e.g. request to circle downtown 3 times then fly south along the shoreline

b.     Don’t be afraid to repeat the request

c.     Controllers will accommodate if they understand what you want to do

6.     International operations

a.     Talk to a local briefer – they know how to do the border crossing and can help you file

b.     Verify the required documents including the planes radio license decal as well as obtaining a radio license from the FCC

c.     Land at designated airports, call customs, get the code, then you can taxi to the FBO

7.     Night flying

a.     Consider flying IFR

b.     Taxing is harder at night – Foreflight was advantageous as well as the G1000 – some unique challenges of using the G1000 at large airports

c.     Look for the dark areas in the city for typical locations of airports

8.     Bad weather

a.     Most of the inclement weather was in the Pacific Northwest

b.     Pop up IFR clearances are not a big deal

Andrea’s inspirational and informative presentation was well received. Sharing of this information among pilots IS the key reason for the existence of this group.

Coming Up


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 subscribe as detailed below so you will get the latest information.

We have a number of great topics lined up for the next three months. We will be expanding our topics to include areas on instrument flying. Look for the following topics and more for the next couple of months:

·       PG&E Corporate Aviation – We will have the Director of PG&E’s corporate aviation join us. Come hear about PG&E’s corporate aviation fleet, the experiences they have on a daily basis and the chance to learn about commercial aviation.

·       Instrument charts – Jeppesen vs. NACO – what are the differences? Advantages and disadvantages?

·       ELTs and PLBs – what are the differences, advantages. The history behind these life saving devices and future regulation changes.

·       Aviation applications – group throw down on who has the coolest aviation applications – this will be a show and tell event where members can share their knowledge about the apps they use.

·       The Private Pilot checkride – hear about a recent members experience with their checkride and how they prepared.

Everyone, whatever and wherever they fly is welcome. In addition to some tasty pizza and beverages, 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.