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Student and New Pilot Support Group


March and April Meeting Report

Spring has sprung and the Bay Area Student and New Pilot Support Group are continuing to provide a great forum for all pilots to share their knowledge of aviation with other likeminded pilots. We are excited about all the things planned for 2014. With the change to a quarterly newsletter we encourage anyone interested in participating in this group to register as described at the end of this article.

March Meeting

The Student and New Pilot group held its March 2014 meeting on Monday March 3rd. We leveraged the experience of all the members of the group with a round table discussion of various aviation applications. Many of the attendees had a favorite aviation application that they wanted to share with the group. We had a great time discussing the features of the many applications and all of us learned about several new tools that can be used to help make flying easier. The following are some highlights of the aviation applications that were shared.

The first application reviewed was AeroWeather which comes in two versions; a free version AeroWeather Lite, and Pro version for $2.99. The features mentioned that were of value include the ability to organize airports into folders for easier checking of weather, e.g. Bay Area airports, vs. Canadian airports. Other nice features mentioned were the ability for the application to display the headwind and crosswind components for the reported winds. Among other information, it also displays sunrise and sunset times.


The group had a lively discussion about the capabilities of FlyQ and ForeFlight. Some of the group members preferred FlyQ’s interface over ForeFlight. They found FlyQ easier to navigate and liked the split screen feature of FlyQ. The FlyQ features for winds aloft and fuel prices were other reasons stated for the preferences. ForeFlight was very popular and group members liked features including the ability to depict entry procedures for non-towered airports, the overlay of IFR procedures, the ability to switch to a satellite view and the feature to display distance and direction between two points on the map. This discussion was a great way to learn about the various features of each of these fine applications from members that had various levels of experience using the tools.

Another favorite application of one of the members is CloudAhoy. This application provides the ability to capture a date for a given flight for review and analysis afterwards. It is simple to use, just start the capture on your iPhone prior to take off then process the data after the flight. You can debrief a flight on an iPad or on the web. One of the members was using this tool to assist with debriefing on instrument training

One other aviation application that was presented was Aviation W&B. This is a $9.99 application that provides an easy way to do W&B for many different types of aircraft. There are hundreds of templates available for most common airplanes and if there isn’t one available, the application allows you to enter the relevant data to create a template. Within this application you can store aircraft specific details such as the basic empty weight for a specific tail number. Doing the W&B for that tail number then is simple as entering the specific weights for the flight. The application displays the CG envelope at takeoff, landing and zero fuel. It is a handy way to do a W&B.

This was one of the more popular meetings where everyone participated in sharing information and everyone learned something new.

April Meeting

The group had a special guest for the April meeting. We were joined by Michael Curtin, Director for Aviation Services at Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Michael is a long time pilot with 39 years of experience. He shared with the group some of his experiences over the many years that he has been flying. He discussed with the group a number of key acronyms that he uses to stay safe including FAST (3-2-3-1), NCMC3, BARDCLAM:DX HUFF. The details of which are posted to the Yahoo Student and New Pilot group site.

Michael also shared his knowledge of corporate aviation. At PG&E, aircraft are used for a couple of key purposes. First, they use their corporate aircraft to move people to work. They have several projects underway in the San Luis Obispo and Arcata where they need to transport people to those work locations. They use their Embraer Legacy for that purpose as they make trips from KOAK to and from KACV and KSBP. They also use aircraft for inspecting and monitoring their network of electric and gas transmission lines. Some of their locations are very remote like their hydro facilities where only a helicopter can get to. He has some pretty amazing pictures of these locations.

Regarding corporate aviation, Michael indicated that pilots typically will have more than 3,500 hours of flight time as a minimum qualification. More important than the hours, is the pilot’s ability to fit into the culture of safety. They have been evolving their safety management system to achieve the next level of certification. This is a common theme that we also heard in a previous meeting about corporate aviation.

Michael discussed some of the innovative practices that they have developed including their transition from helicopter platform work to long line for power line maintenance. Anyone recently driving across the San Mateo Bridge may have seen workers being towed on a long line underneath a helicopter to work on the power transmission towers. This practice was innovated and refined at PG&E.

Michael invited the group to come out to their Oakland based airport operations for a tour of their facility and their Embraer Legacy. In addition, he invited the group to come up to the Nut Tree airport, KVCB, where they staff their helicopter operations center. The group was pleased with the hospitality that he shared.

When asked what was the one thing that he hears on the radio that make him cringe.  His response was very relevant. What makes him cringe is when a pilot is not commanding the flight. He stressed that the pilot is PIC for a reason and that our job is to take control of the flight. He emphasized the importance of making ATC work for the pilot and not the other way around. It was a great observation to cap off the evening of fascinating information.

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:

·       Traffic alerting systems – how they work and the differences between them

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

·       Aviation fuel – hear from a knowledgeable subject matter expert on aviation fuel and what alternatives for 100LL are on the horizon

·       Safety Pilot – best practices and procedures

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

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

·       Aircraft ownership – things to know about purchasing an aircraft from members that are owners

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.