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Student and New Pilot Support Group

Student and New Pilot Group

Bay Area Student and New Pilot Support Group – August, September, October and November Meeting Report

The Bay Area Student and New Pilot Support Group has reached its third year anniversary. Our group started back in December of 2011 not knowing that it would provide a much needed forum for student and new pilots to share their knowledge of aviation with other likeminded pilots. We have had a large influx of new pilots join our meetings along with a core group that have been around since the first meeting. For the latest news and announcements we encourage anyone interested in participating in this group to register as described at the end of this article.

August Meeting

The August meeting included a presentation on various in-flight video recording systems. We had two experienced pilots that shared their knowledge of the leading products. This included GoPro, Nflightcam and the latest entrant into this field the Garmin VIRB. All of these products offer some great features. They are great for recording a flight simply to share it with others as well as they can be used to record flight details that can aid in reviewing a flight performance for educational or flight training benefits.

Stuart shared his experience with using all three cameras. He currently favors the Garmin VIRB. He shared that you can’t record audio and power the VIRB camera at the same time. He indicated that he gets about three hours of life from the battery.

We also had a ForeFlight tips and tricks session presented by a former employee of ForeFlight. We have had previous meetings on flight planning tools but this one was focused on some special features that may not be widely used by pilots.  Kate demonstrated some of the tricks she learned while working with one of the founders of ForeFlight. This included the ability to turn on the extended runway centerline feature, as well as how to customize the navigation log font size by eliminating some of the columns. Everyone in attendance learned something new. It was a great meeting for all those that attended.

September Meeting

During the September meeting we had two trip reports. The first one was a trip report from a flight to San Diego.

Ian shared with the group his experience with a trip to San Diego. This trip was in a Cessna 172 and was his longest trip. The purpose of the trip was to take his daughter to college. Ian reviewed with the group his route planning and in particular his experience with navigating the LAX airspace. He opted for the LAX Costal VFR transition route. This gave him the opportunity to fly directly over KLAX.

One aspect of his flight that he paid a lot of attention to was weight and balance for his aircraft. The purpose of the trip

was to take his daughter and her belongings back to college in San Diego. He shared a picture of what he packed into the plane. It was within the W&B but more surprisingly was that it all fit into a 172. It just goes to show you that the 172 is quite the utility aircraft!

His choice of airports was Montgomery Field, KMYF, and he used the Gibbs Flying Service FBO. He had great services from Gibbs and recommends it if you are planning a trip to Montgomery Field.

The second trip report was about a flight to Spokane, WA for the AOPA Fly-In at Felts Field, KSFF. Herb shared details about this trip including navigating through some weather enroute as well as the specific Fly-In procedures that were posted for the event. The Fly-In attracted approximately 1,500 AOPA members and guests and there were about 240 aircraft that flew in for the event. If you like unique old aircraft, this was a great event. The static display included a Laird LC 1B-300, Boeing 40, 1934 Jee Bee replica, as well as a number of Stearman aircraft. This was one of several AOPA Regional Fly-Ins and included a number of educational sessions, vendor booths as well as a session with Mark Baker, the AOPA president.

One tip that was shared with the group was that on the flight to KSFF, the group stopped at Sunriver, OR (S21) for fuel and lunch. This is a fabulous little airport that is associated with the Sunriver Resort. For outdoor enthusiasts, Sunriver Resort provides a large number of activities including kayaking, rock climbing, fly fishing, biking as well as golf and tennis. It was so attractive that the group can’t wait to go back just to explore the many features Sunriver resort offers. If you just need to stop for fuel and food, the airport has a shuttle that will take you to the lodge for dining.

These trip reports are often very valuable information that allows pilots to share their knowledge about destinations as well as their experiences with real cross country flying.

October Meeting

Our October meeting included a trip report from a fly out to visit Edwards Air Force Base. A group of pilots flew to Mojave then traveled to Edwards Air Force Base for a tour of the museum located there. This is a unique experience since the museum has limited tours available. Stuart shared his experience with navigating to Mojave as well as what was on display during the flight museum tour.

A link to all the pictures from the tour can be found here:

The second topic for the meeting was a firsthand report from two pilots that just completed their private pilot checkride. Mark and Dave both recently took their checkrides and are now private pilots. They shared with the group their experience, observations and tips. Mark took his checkride at Castle airport. One of his suggestions was to bring copies of the weather briefing material so that you are familiar with what is on the charts otherwise you may be asked to interpret something you hadn’t seen before. He had a lot of questions about airspace during his oral and was also asked to recalculate his navigation log using different winds aloft. Thankfully he was well prepared for that task. It was a long day for him, about 11 hours from when he got up to when he got home. 

Dave also said he had a long day as well. He took his checkride at Chico. Dave’s oral portion of the checkride was two to three hours. His recommendation was to make sure you use your checklists and don’t talk too much. He felt his examiner was really focusing on his decision making ability, and wanted to make sure he would be a safe pilot.

Both Mark and Dave answered lots of question from the group, including several student pilots that were planning to take a checkride soon. It was a great session.

November Meeting

We wrapped up the fall quarter with our monthly meeting in November. This month we had a demo of the Lockheed Martin online briefing tool. The tool is accessed via and provides what Lockheed Martin calls “Next Generation Briefings”, NGB. Compared to the other official online briefing sites, the NGB content is easier to understand and it is easier to recognize information relevant to your flight. It incorporates tailored graphics that are specific to your route of flight.

One of the tailored graphics shows the forecasted conditions along the route of flight based on the available TAFs.

The graphical portion of the NGB TAF presentation is powerful in terms of giving the pilot a quick overview of forecast conditions along the route.

The TAF symbols are color-coded using the METAR conventions, for the time the aircraft will pass the location. The route is also annotated with time references (departure, arrival, and top of the hour points along the route) to support further analysis. In essence, this single graphic is the overall summary pilots must construct through manual analysis today.

During the second half of our meeting we discussed instrument currency. The group shared their approaches to maintaining instrument currency including how often they practice instrument approaches, how they use safety pilots, the types of approaches that they include in their instrument currency regime, and how they incorporate a CFII into their currency plans. It was a great discussion.

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:

·        The instrument rating – what to think about and when to consider it

·        Private pilot aeronautical knowledge test taking tips

·        Instrument charts – Jeppesen vs. NACO – 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

·        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 Herb Patten at if you would like additional information.