Posts about aircraft operating procedures
"Gas: fullest tank; undercarriage: down and locked; mixture: rich; prop: forward," I called out as I entered the pattern in my club's A36 Bonanza on a left 45 for runway 31 at Hollister airport, just 40 miles Southeast of my home airport of San Jose. Following my usual practice, I did this "GUMP" check twice more: once on base leg and again on final approach.
I was drifting between wakefulness and fitful sleep as I rolled over in bed, trying to get comfortable, when I suddenly jolted fully awake with a shot of adrenaline. What would happen to our housing costs if we couldn't find a place to live in our price range? We had just sold our house and were renting it from the new owners for a limited time. We needed to find a new place to live soon—in the most competitive real-estate market we'd ever seen!
The distinctive sound of a flat-four engine overhead got my attention. I looked up to see a low-altitude Cessna flying Northwest, probably climbing out from San Carlos airport just a few miles away. I watched as it climbed and turned to the West, heading over to the coast.
Cruising at 10,000 feet under a high, broken cloud layer with occasional light rain, my parents, my wife Janet, Eddie Pippin, Canine Aviator, and I gazed out at towering Mount Shasta off to our right, spotlighted by shifting shafts of sunlight. The flight had been smooth and beautiful, and now after about two hours it was time for a tank switch and some quick math. I calculated how much fuel we'd burned so far and looked at the GPS estimate of our remaining time en route. Good—we were on track to arrive with more than an hour of fuel in the tanks—always a good feeling!
It was a very dark, moonless night at Paso Robles, California when my wife Janet, our friend Lena, and I finished a lovely dinner and were boarding the airplane for our flight home. Paso Robles is in a valley, surrounded by high terrain, and there would be very few signs of human habitation along most of our route back to the San Francisco bay area. Anticipating this, I had filed an IFR flight plan and prepared to fly the published obstacle departure procedure to give us an extra margin of safety.