Short video of an Angelflight in light IFR conditions

Flying a Angeflight passenger from Van Nuys to Sacramento Mather in cloudy weather in Zulu. Some actual IFR as you can see. Music in the background is played by the Rocklin High School Jazz Band.

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2 Camera Video of Uneventful Arrival in Lincoln with our Cherokee-6

Had some fun editing two separate video streams into this 2:45min video. Used Cyberlink PowerDirector 12, which I bought for myself as a belated birthday present.


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RAM mounts for iPhone and iPad Mini in Cherokee 6

Ram mounts for generic phone (no need to take it out of its sleeve) and a sleeveless IPad Mini

Ram mounts for generic phone (no need to take it out of its sleeve) and a sleeveless IPad Mini


I received my new RAM mounts in the mail this week and went to try them in the Cherokee-6. The positioning worked well with not obstructing the view outside too much (at least at my 6’3″) while still being quite accessible. The thought of the IPhone position is to link it eventually to a Stratus II for attitude backup information – once I can get myself over the investment hump. The IPad is running Foreflight.







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Some things I never knew about the Piper autopilots

I flew with a friend to the Bay Area in Foxtrot today. It was a beautiful day, and I took the time to experiment with the standard autopilot a bit – the original Century II single axis wing-leveler. After 18 years of flying Pipers and never really using the autopilot to satisfaction, I discovered a few things today that may be useful…


1. Rudder Trim – When course deviation is small, the bank angle the autopilot provides is very small, and at some point was not even enough to make the plane turn. I discovered the obvious: you need to adjust rudder trim in combination with the AP to actually level the wings and hold course. What I discovered by trial and error is actually described well in the manual here:
Century IIB Operating Manual

2. It takes some practice to maintain altitude with the AP on. It is different feeling, and in the beginning, I had 150ft swings both ways, while trying to really maintain altitude precisely. Practice, as in many situations, does bring improvement – and indeed I was getting better after doing this for a little while. Who would have thought flying with the autopilot requires additional practice in basic flying.

3. Having the AP do turns does not work without very significant assistance in keeping pitch. A 60 degree turn will significantly drop the nose, so you have to use the yoke to hold up the nose manually. More practice.

After reading the manual (finally), I picked up a few more things.

4. What I did learn about the AP during primary training was that in preflight, you need to test the AP, as well as the effective disconnection of the AP when you pull the breaker. The manual, in contrast, states that you need to test that you can overpower the AP with about 15lbs of force. That’s good, because we don’t have a breaker you can pull for the AP.

5. There is a non-trivial procedure for tracking navaids. For one, you need to put the OBS and the heading bug at the same course for it to work. Now I know why I couldn’t get that to work. The 4 available settings, I believe I now understand, are different dampening settings – and NAV can be used for enroute, OMNI for VOR approaches, LOC NORM for ILS/Localizer approaches, and LOC REV for localizer backcourses. Something to play with during a later flight.

Based on this experience, I am getting a better appreciation for the value that even a simple wing leveler can bring to flight. I also now think that autopilot use requires a lot more attention in primary training, and especially again in instrument training. Proper AP use doesn’t just require knowledge of how to operate the technology, but also requires some flying skills, that require practice to master. With that, I think the ubiquitous century wing leveler can be a great help in both VFR and IFR environments.

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Sacramento Area through the Eyes of our French Exchange Student

This gallery contains 15 photos.

This was an introduction to general aviation for our exchange student. She loved the flying and really enjoyed seeing the area where she had gone to school and had fun from above.                 … Continue reading

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PGAA Plane Wash and Landing Challenge

This gallery contains 11 photos.

PGAA Owners and alumni got together to do the traditional scrubbing of the airplanes. It was a very hot day, but the hose and gazebo provided some releave from the burning hot sun. Rick organized a delicious barbeque when the … Continue reading

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Some cool new pictures of Archer N3047F

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Airplane Camping at Georgetown, California

We were looking for something fun to do during the holiday weekend, May 25, 2013, and as we found all hotels at most places booked full for the holidays, we thought we would try our hand at airplane camping again. We had done this at Columbia and Shelter Cove before, always having a great time, but we were looking for something new. We found some information about Georgetown, a short 14 minute flight from our home base at Lincoln, CA. It was hard to get a complete picture from a few reviews – so here’s the full camping operations review about tent camping at Georgetown.

To begin with, there is a real camp ground:

The campground is on the West side of the runway. There is a small asphalt pad with faded ‘no parking’ markings, but it works well to load and unload the airplane. After unloading, we towed the plane just off the pad into the grass. Ground was solid enough, but the grass was a bit high. Alternatively, you could unload at the pad and taxi across the runway to park at transient parking.

The campground is pretty big, with five robust picnic tables and room enough for a lot of tents in shaded areas.

There are facilities with evidence of hot water, but the doors were locked when we came. However, there are facilities on the airport itself. If you are brave enough to ignore the signs…

…you can get to the airport facilities. It is probably about a 3 minute walk from the tent, so not too bad.

There was drinking water, flush toilets, and hot running water. No showers…

At the fuel station, there is a donation box for tie down fees and camping fees, $6 each. We made our $12 contribution…

Though we hardly needed any after our 14 minute flight, the fuel prices seemed reasonable: $5.49/gal for 100LL.

Other amenities included one campfire pit:

A hiking trail:

A fence all around the airport area…

…which should keep the bears out, but just in case…


…and the fence is conveniently chained in a way so that a small person can still get through:

Which leads us to an important note: if you want to drive a car here, you cannot get to the campground.

Park on the East side instead and walk through the runway. Canyon Creek Road is closed off by Gate E.
A few more items:

  • There was some low pressure water at the campsite – We carried our water in and used that. Not sure if the water is potable or if you have to filter it. At the airport facilities in the North East of the campground, I think it is safe to assume the water is potable.
  • We carried in firewood, but there was plenty there. Make sure fire danger isn’t too high.
  • You can hike to Georgetown. It’s a little over 2 mile each way, with a total ascent of 187 ft (this was walking back from Georgetown, using mapmyfitness). It’s a combination of uphill and downhill each way. Part of it is along a very quiet 2-lane road, and part along HW 193, but there is a very nice pedestrian walkway which makes it very safe. The Buffalo Hill shopping center is at about 1.5 miles. It has a supermarket, but we didn’t see any restaurants there.
  • There were as good as no ‘bugs’ – just a few ants. We brought bug spray, but didn’t use it.
  • It was cold in the morning – 45 degrees
  • Finally, I thought the airport was pretty intimidating the first time I approached it. I decided to take a long, high, final and slip it in. The runway is plenty long.

Have fun camping at Georgetown, and maybe we’ll see you there sometime.

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Sunset Flight to Oakland

One of the perks of being a PGAA member is that when a nice moment is there, we can just go flying. Case in point: Margreet and I took ‘Zulu’ on a really nice, romantic sunset flight, with a touch and go landing in Oakland, a couple of 360s to watch the sunset just North of Travis, and landing at dusk with the runway lights on.

And of course a brief video:

For the video geeks amongst you – this is obviously handheld video. The GoPro camera doesn’t have a lot of manual controls for metering (none, actually) and I did a little post processing for the extreme back light. GoPro has something called ‘Protune’ mode, which sounds a bit like camera raw for video. I’m going to play with that in the future a bit more to see if I can get improvements on this type of lighting situations.

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Aviation Weather for the Day After Tomorrow

New addition, with thanks to Dan Hill for pointing this out:

This site of the California Nevada River Forecast Center, which is part of NOAA, provides surface analysis forecast for a whopping 16 days in 6 hour intervals. As of this writing (12/22/2016), follow Weather>Weather Models>Mean SLP/Thickness/Pcpn>NAmer…

No guarantees that this will keep working, but this may be a direct link:

Original Post

If you are a pilot and you are like me, by the time Thursday is coming around, you are probably starting to consider your flying options for the weekend. And if weather is part of the equation, you are probably looking at the multi-day forecast at wunderground or something similar to see what day of the weekend looks better or worse. Coming closer to the weekend, the question becomes more concrete – morning, or afternoon on Saturday or on Sunday?

I have always found that we have great weather resources for the next 24-30 hours (I use TAFS) and decent weather products for next week (wunderground, etc.), but if it’s Friday, and I want to look at aviation relevant details for Saturday and Sunday, I’ve been stuck with Prognostic Charts. Prog Charts paint a good macro picture, but they don’t give me a lot of information to interpret the micro consequence, e.g., are visibility/ceilings going to be VFR, is the wind going to be 18 or 34 knots, will the weather change at 11AM or 2PM?

So while browsing for something better, I found this:


Check it out. Sky conditions, visibility, ceilings, wind speed and direction and much more for a whopping 60 hours.

Turns out the National Weather Service is providing the data underlying this pilot friendly display (GFS MOS guidance). I certainly didn’t learn about this service in ground school back in 1996.

So I guess I’m planning for a sunset flight on Saturday or Sunday this weekend. Looking forward to it. (of course I will still check other whether products when we get closer – FA, TAFs, METAR, etc.)

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