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Student and New Pilot Support Group

Bay Area Student and New Pilot Support Group

Bay Area Student and New Pilot Support Group – May, June, and July Meeting Report

It has been a great summer and the Bay Area Student and New Pilot Support Group is continuing to provide a great forum for all pilots to share their knowledge of aviation with other likeminded pilots. We have had a number of great trip reports from pilots that have shared their experiences with the group. There are still many more flying days left in the year and we are excited about all the topics that are planned for the 2nd half of 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.

May Meeting

The Student and New Pilot group held its May 2014 meeting on Monday May 12th one week later than usual due to conflicting schedules. The topic for the meeting was ELT’s, PLB’s and tracking devices. The presentation detailed the events that triggered the introduction of ELTs to general aviation, the difference between 121.5 MHz and 406 MHz ELTs, details on how satellite detection works for 406 MHz ELTs, Personal Locator Beacons (PLB), as well as alternatives to PLBs such as SPOT, Spidertracks and inReach.

June Meeting

The group covered two topics in June. We had a trip report from a member regarding a flight to Las Vegas as well as a discussion on best practices when using a safety pilot for IFR training or maintaining instrument currency.

Stuart shared with the group his experience with a trip to Las Vegas. This trip was in a Cessna 172 and was his longest trip at that time. He discussed his decision on which of the three airports to use as a destination at Las Vegas. The three Las Vegas airports are McCarran (KLAS), North Las Vegas (KVGT) and Henderson (KHND).  He chose to use North Las Vegas. The FBO at North Las Vegas was very friendly and arranged transportation for Stuart. The group shared experiences with other Las Vegas airports. A comment was made that Henderson was also a good option as it was nice and had rental cars however shuttle service was poor.

Stuart went on to share the details of his route planning which was to go south to avoid the higher mountainous terrain. The cruising altitude was planned for 9,500. Upon arrival into the Las Vegas area he was expecting to use the ROCKS VFR transition route but ATC provided him radar vectors to North Las Vegas airport.

On the return leg, ATC provided a clearance through the restricted area R-2515 and over Edwards Air Force Base. He mentioned that an aircraft ahead of him had asked for that clearance, which was granted and then ATC offered it to him. This was a short cut that saved some time on his return trip. The total round trip flight time was about 8.5 hours with the trip to Las Vegas around 4.0 hours and the return trip around 4.5 hours.

During the second half of the meeting the group discussed best practices when using a safety pilot. Instrument rated pilots need a safety pilot so they can maintain instrument currency by flying instrument approaches while under the hood. Any private pilot can act as a safety pilot and watch for traffic. The group focused on reviewing the FAR requirements for being a safety pilot as well as how to best brief your safety pilot, especially if they are not familiar with instrument approaches.

July Meeting

For July we had a detailed trip report from Matt, a group member that has flown to Frazier Lake (1C9). Frazier Lake offers a number of unique features. First of all it has a grass runway as well as a waterway for seaplanes. Matt described the feeling of using a soft field landing technique on a runway that really required it. We all learn during our training soft field landings and takeoffs techniques but we don’t always get a chance to put it to use on a grass runway.

Frazier Lake also offers a “Display Day” event the first Saturday of the month. Display Day is like an open house with a large number of antique aircraft on display. The event is open to the public and you can fly or drive there for the event. Matt had some fascinating pictures that he took of all the aircraft on display.

Matt shared with the group some insights on flying in to Frazier Lake including details about the typical wind pattern, how best to approach the airport as well as where to park on the field since transient parking is on the grass. The presentation raised the interest level among those present of wanting to fly to this unique airport.

Also in July we had a presentation on cockpit traffic advisory systems. The presentation covered the difference between TIS, TAS, and TIS-B. The original TIS service is no longer directional and in some parts of the country is being phased out. TIS-B is part of the FAA NextGEN program but it has a number of limitations. TAS doesn’t require any ground based facilities and provides a number of key benefits. The details were included in the presentation that has been posted to the group site. Whether or not you use a cockpit traffic advisory system we all agreed that we still need to use the Mark I Eyeball.

The last part of the meeting consisted of a trip report by Herb from a flight to several Sierra Mountain airports. The airports included Mammoth (KMMH), Lee Vining (O24) and Bryant airport (O57). Mammoth is the public use airport in California with the highest field elevation. Bryant airport is next to the town of Bridgeport which offers a few places to enjoy a meal before heading back over the Sierra’s to the Bay area. The presentation covered route planning, tips about each airport including the SuperAWOS at Bryant field, weather factors, and places to eat in Bryant.

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.  We meet on the first Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. 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 in the coming months:

·       Private pilot aeronautical knowledge test taking tips

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

·       Aviation fuel – a discussion led by a local subject matter expert on aviation fuel and what alternatives for 100LL are on the horizon

·       The Private Pilot Checkride – hear from members about their recent 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.