philzSan Jose 2006


From November 12 to December 15 I was staying in San Jose, California, where I was helping writing a book about IBM OmniFind - enterprise search engine.


As usual on such trips I planned to fly a little in free time. I have chosen Reid-Hillview airport, which was located very conveniently just 10 minutes from my hotel. I arrived on saturday and next day had first visit to airport. After quick shopping around I decided to fly with Amelia-Reid Aviation.

Checkout flights

I was alble to schedule checkout flight almost instantly after appearing in Amelia-Reid. We were not able to take "default" Cessna 172 owned by flight school, instead took another C172 available for rentals from different company. It turned out to be great thing, as their had much more rental-friendly insurance policy, and plane was equipped with Garmin 430 and GTX 330, which together with TIS coverage in San Francisco showed all airplanes nearby on Garmin screen. Perfect thing!!!Checkout was pretty throughout, I felt almost like on checkride preparation flight. It took 1.8hr, and we had flown together almost whole private pilot PTS. Good refresher. :-) That was day part.


We also arranged night flight over San Francisco, to make me more familiar with local procedures and airspace. Not to mention making me night current again. It's not really viable to fly at night in Poland...

We took off from Reid-Hillview, flew for full stop landing to Moffet Field, then did fullstop landing on Palo Alto. Ufff... They are close, huge workload after a break. After this we flew over San Francisco towards Alcatraz, over Golden Gate and then back to Reid-Hillview.


Instructor lent me Petzl headlamp to try in a airplane, and very quickly I decided to buy myself one as it was so convenient.

San Francisco Tour

Although we did a night tour of San Francisco before, we couln't see much. And almost no photos were good, so apparently we had to do another tour by day, this time we me as PIC.


On the way we had a very nice view of Moffet Field and San Francisco International Airport.


Other sights included downtown




and Golden Gate Bridge.


Afterwards we had flown home...


We had flown similar route to night checkout flight, just without landings every few minutes.

Aerobatics Training

As I quickly found out Amelia-Reid specializes in tailwheel and aerobatics training. Actually, it seems they have two trigear airplanes and few times more of tailwheels. As I wanted to check out how spin feels and maybe try something more I quickly arranged "demo" aerobatics lesson with instructor.

We went in Bellanca Citabria. After ground briefing, parachute familarization and bailout procedure talk we preflighted airplane and tried to fit inside. That was hardest part for me, I barely fitted :-( I was not able to reach to electrical switches placed behind and aboveĀ  my head on left side.


As this was fuel injected airplane, starting engine was quite different than I used to. Taxing a tailwheel also feel very different, with tail swinging around. But this is nothing compared to taking off. Really weird feeling.


We flew to nearby practice area and started with a spin. Woohooo, first one looks really scary! Especially beginning, when plane falls upside down. Rotation afterwards was not that bad as I expected, and pullup from dive was "normal".
Check for yourself - my second spin in an airplane. After this I tried it myself few times.

Next thing to try was a loop. I tried it too myself. Last thing to try was aileron roll. After first demonstration I called it a day, that was too much in one flight. Landing was not hard, probably gets worse with sidewind.


Hardest part was to get out of airplane, but I finally managed to do it... This was 1.2hr flight, and I enjoyed every second of it :-) I decided to continue ASAP, which meant next day.

Columbia Tour

This was short saturday trip to Columbia - famous city from Gold Rush era and state national park. The fact, that it was possible to walk from airport to city was also a good thing.


After 1.1hr flight we arrived at Columbia airport.


Historic state park was just few minutes walking away. Nice.


You can see takeoff video, and landing video from this trip (both at KRHV).

Santa Monica Trip

On saturday, 2nd december I flew to Santa Monica to visit my highschool friend Blazej. I as planning to visit him in Berkeley, when I found he moved south. This double 3.3hr, 280nm solo trip should also fit nicely to commercial certificate requirements.


This is view of Santa Monica airport and airplane after landing.


Quite nice place to live...


Of course we also visited shoreline. Well, almost.


Whole return trip was at night (3.3hr)


Actual Instruments

Finally weather ceased to be nice. I planned 4 hours of aerobatics training for this day, but due to low clouds and heavy winds it was not possible. Still, having bad weather in California is a nice thing - I managed to get some actual instrument time only once in few years of trips...


We took off from KRHV and flew to Stockton airport, did ILS approach there and after missed approach returned back to San Jose International for another ILS approach. We had to circle for about 30 minutes before approaching airport due to number of airliners performing go arounds because of low level widshear.


Now I know EXACTLY why training for IFR in nice weather is not that good idea. I never thought how much updrafts and downdrafts happen inside clouds. It didn't feel like straight&level flight at all.


Great experience, worth trying again...

WINGS Safety Award

I also managed to fulfill all requirements for WINGS safety award. After attending safety seminar - meeting with local tower controller - and taking 3hr of flight instruction in takeoff&landings, maneuvers and simulated instrument conditions I drove to San Jose FSDO, where I got my certificate and bronze pin in 10 minutes. I really like FAA, I wish we had such aviation administration in Poland. :-)