I started flight training with the West Valley Flying Club at San Carlos Airport right at the beginning of 1998, in the first days of January. My introductory flight was on a Cessna 172 Skyhawk, and my next plane was a Piper Warrior (the links point to two specific planes, but I use whichever Cessna C-172 is available, see the entire WVFC aircraft fleet here). After trying the Cessna again during my third flight I decided to stay with this type, but only because I had to choose one of the two, not because I liked it more than the Piper. In fact, stall behaviour was much 'cleaner' in the Piper (that's how it felt to me... but I'm not saying it's safer, just 'cleaner'), but I guess it's better to learn on the plane where it's harder. Update (after getting license and a Piper checkout (Warrior and Archer)): now I think they are almost exactly equally difficult/easy.
|This stuff is needed: Written-Exam guide, Private Pilot Manual, Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR), Flight Computer, Headset (mine was 316$ and it's very good), the airports Noise Abatement Procedures, C-172 Handbook, ...
Two things are missing from the picture: a checklist (before takeoff, engine failure,...) and something for storing maps, pencils, paper, flight computer and so on during flight.
|In addition, I upgraded my computer at work with a 150$ set consisting of a rudder pedal, a joystick and a throttle. With it came Sierra's ProPilot and I had already purchased Microsoft FlightSimulator 98. This stuff indeed helped me a lot, but of course you have to know what you want to achieve with it and its limitations in advance. Just playing around is senseless and no fun anyway.|
|That's the cockpit of one of the Cessna C-172's I fly.|
|Over the bay's east side, just south of hayward, looking south.||I completely forgot where I took this picture, but it might also be the east bay.|
|Flying back from the Pacific to San Carlos, over Highway 280.||That's the east side of the bay. I think it's Hayward.|
|Half Moon Bay uncontrolled Airport, directly at the Pacific Ocean.||Half Moon Bay, again. We went here for practicing landings. So far I landed on San Jose International Airport (side by side with big Boeings), San Carlos (of course), Hayward, Livermore, Half Moon Bay.|
|The peninsula where I live. At the top you can see Oracle.||Again, same peninsula. I marked my apartment with a balck circle (left of big picture, not on the thumbnail to the right, so you must click).|
|Oracle from the air. When landing on runway 12 we always fly over the Oracle buildings on the base leg.||Just before touchdown. Since my approaches are just great ;-) I have time to look around and take pictures, because few corrections are necessary.|
|After a flight on this Cessna. This is my flight instructor, Dave.||Looking from West Valley's hangars south, towards the tower.|
My flight instructor from the very beginning to the end (which has yet to come, expected for first half of May): Dave Schams, but I also had the pre-solo phase check and some more lessons (many x-wind landings) with John Pyle, who has I-don't-know-how-many-ten-thousand-hours, he's been flying helicopters in Vietnam...
Update On 17 June, 1998, I got my license. Two days earlier I had moved to the other side of the Bay, to San Ramon.
My new home airport is in Livermore. I'm still a WVFC member, they just have a very well maintained fleet and a great choice.
I rent planes from Ahart Aviation. Instead of proceeding direclty to IFR training as I had intented, I got stuck at Attitude Aviation.
After 3 hours of aerobatics introduction with lots of spins and a few rools and loops I don't care about
IFR very much. My new goal is to ride one of the two Pitts S2B they have. They require 50 hours tailwheel time
for soloing the Pitts, that's why I immediately switched from a Grob as basic aerobatics trainer to a Citabria (they have two, one has an inverted fuel/oil system).
The Grob was great, no doubt, but I need lots of tailwheel time now ;-) ...
IFR has low priority right now. I don't have much use for x-country flying anyway, and I can't do aerobatics when the weather is bad, i.e. I don't need IFR now.
You can see the area where I live and work now. Just left of where the picture ends is the Bay.
These are the hills that separate the Bay from the Livermore valley. Even farther East, only a few
miles past Livermore, are some more hills like these. Behind them begins the Central Valley, that
big, long famous valley where most of Californias crops grow and which made the state famous.
Livermore begins where the picture ends on the right. In the center is Pleasanton. At the top right, in front of the hills, is the airport.
These three pictures form a sequence. It was my 1st solo X-Country, from San Carlos to Salinas
(near Monterey). I took the route via San Jose (class C airspace), but on my way back I decided
to take the coastal route. I departed Salinas (with flight following from Monterey approach),
and picture number 1 marks the place where I arrived over the coast, at the Monterey Bay, slightly
north of Monterey. Monterey itself was hidden behind a low overcast cloud layer, as you can see
the picture is looking south).
Going north, the clouds got thicker and thicker, but they didn't move and I had clear sky 5 minutes behind me and only 1/2 of the sky inf ront of me was covered, so there where enough holes left. In picture 2 you can see the shore through the clouds, look directly over the owling, left side. There where still lots of big holes between the clouds.
I took picture 3 when I decended through a big hole (in front of me, picture is to the left), minutes before I turned right to San Carlos.
This is not a sequence, but unintentionally I took these shots over the same place. Number 1 and 2
are almost identical, if you look carefully. They both show the same area. I was over the hills that
for a natural border between the Bay and the Pacific. Behind me is the Pacific (all three pictures),
in Number 1 and two I look towards the south of the Bay and in Number three to the north.
The lake in the foreground (picture 3: on the right) is Crystal Springs reservoir. Behind that is the water of the Bay.
Picture 3: If you continue into the direction you get to San Francisco, which is about 30 miles away. On the top left you can see the ocean.
My 2nd solo X-country. The route was: San Carlos, Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Auburn, Placerville,
Stockton, Byron, San Carlos. It took me 2.5 hours flying time. I took pictures on the first
leg only, until I had passed San Francisco.
Number 1: After turning 90 degrees to the left, shortly after takeoff. Looking north you see San Francisco International airport, about 6 miles away. Looks much farther than in reality.
Number 2: a few minutes later. On the very left you see Half Moon Bay airport, an uncontrolled field.
Number 3:I just passed Half Moon Bay. To the right are residential areas of San Francisco.
Number 4:Again only a few minutes later I come abeam the Golden Gate Bridge. To the right is San Francisco, of ocurse. After taking this picture I turned towards the bridge. I crossed it and continued to Alcatraz, to do some sightseeing. Then I turned north, see next picture:
Number 5:Behind me lie the Golden Gate and San Francisco. I fly to the first airport where I planned to land: Santa Rosa (far north, not on the picture!). From here on I just enjoyed the flight and didn't take any more pictures.
These pictures are from friends from my old University in Germany. Numbers 5 and 6 are near Half Moon Bay airport. Number 7 is shortly after takeoff in San Carlos. Numbers 1 through 3 are the usual stuff. Number 4 shows me (left side, pilot seat, of course) - a little. This is a beautiful Archer II (N4335K). We are sightseeing over San Francisco, heading towards downtown.