We've had crummy weather the last few weeks. Cloudy, or rainy, or windy. So yesterday's perfect weather was welcome for a long flight lesson. Starting with a San Francisco Bay Tour, then some practice instrument flying, emergency landing practice, dinner at Santa Rosa airport, and a long night cross country flight back to San Carlos via Petaluma and Byron. A lot of flying instruction for one day and a lot of fun. I felt like a real pilot.

A San Francisco Bay Tour is the canonical "show your friends around SF" sightseeing flight. There's no formal route, but a convention among pilots made more rigid by the need to coordinate with the San Francisco airport and the wisdom of having air traffic control help make sure you don't hit any other planes gawking at the Bay Area. I flew right over SFO, then up along the bayshore, along the Bay Bridge to check out the construction, then turns around Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge south tower. Also a pass over Crissy Field, San Francisco's oldest airport.

The main lesson on the flight out was how to fly through San Francisco's Bravo airspace, normally something we avoid for everyone's convenience. But ATC is happy to accomodate a bay tour time when they can and they routed me right over the top of SFO airport to let a 777 take off under me. (Prompting a bit of a joke on my part, listen above). Past SFO we were free to roam where we wanted and it was a gloriously beautiful day with some terrific views of SF's finest landmarks. Great fun.

After a nice dinner at the Santa Rosa airport we took a long cross-country flight back to San Carlos to meet my 100nm requirement. Flying at night is hard, particularly with no moon, and I made it harder on myself by choosing smaller airports and navigating without the GPS. Good practice with the instructor, but I think night flying is something I'll be very cautious about until I get more experience.

I'm getting close to the end of my private pilot license preparation. If all goes well I should be ready to take my checkride in about six weeks; main things are solo cross-countries and improving the precision of my airwork and performance takeoffs and landings.

  2010-03-17 02:17 Z