Written Test to Checkride, Part 2
A long rehearsal of the orals at Kaiser, then a leisurely night cross country to Santa Rosa (STS) and back for night landing practice. The orals go OK except I couldn't remember all the light gun signals or every single detail of cloud clearance and visibility requirements for each and every class of airspace. Oh well.
The actual flying parts -- even the night landings, which go oddly well -- are really enjoyable, with good visibility. Even the fact that at one stage we had four planes in the (uncontrolled at this time of the night) pattern didn't cause me much angst. I'm getting a lot more comfortable with night flying....
* * *
On the way back we contact Oakland Center for flight following. She's working several sectors and frequencies at once, so we usually only hear her end of the conversation. At one point she replies to an unheard Alaska Airlines crew that "well, you can call yourself anything you want, as long as I know who you really are...". We don't hear their answer, of course, but Dave leaps in a few seconds later and asks her (without using our call sign) if we could call ourselves "Airforce One". The controller laughs on air and says "sure, just don't let the Secret Service hear about it".
A few minutes later we hear her say "Airforce One... umm, Alaska xxxx, contact Oakland Center on xxx.xx". We don't hear the response, but we spend the rest of the flight imagining the poor Alaska pilots puzzling their way to Seattle or Anchorage about why some controller in Oakland called them "Airforce One". (It never occurred to us until she made the call that she didn't know it was us that made the silly request -- but of course everything else we'd said to her until then had been with my Australian accent and voice. Oh well. Hope she didn't get into any trouble...).
Another simulated checkride, minus the orals. A start towards the northeast, a diversion to Rio Vista for a bunch of short- and soft-field landings (none of which go too badly), then a run-through of the ground reference maneuvers, then a lot of airwork and hood / VOR work on the way back. By the time we land back at OAK, it's dark. Nothing goes horribly wrong the entire flight, but then it's a calm, windless sort of day, not the sort of weather I'm likely to encounter on the checkride.
* * *
As we're approaching Rio Vista -- a sleepy uncontrolled field in the Delta -- we keep hearing a Duchess making traffic announcements on Rio Vista CTAF. Trouble is, the reports are impossible -- one from the northeast, another from the south, etc., -- and he doesn't acknowledge our calls to him for clarification. We overfly the field trying very hard to see him where he says he is, but there's no sign of any other plane anywhere near the field. A few minutes later the phantom Duchess announces he's "over the river heading south". We never see it. We wonder whether it's one of those infamous dorks with a handheld making trouble from the ground (this famously happened at LA a while ago), or someone very confused about where they are....
Another bloody checkride practice, with a diversion to Concord (CCR), then airwork over the Diablo Valley practice area.
Something odd's happened: I'm getting all the short- and soft-field landings consistently right, with little roughness and well within PTS limits each time. About bloody time, I think.... It helps that there's not a huge crosswind, but even so, the difference is obvious: two weeks ago I wasn't sure I'd ever do it right; now something -- I don't know what -- has just clicked and I can "see" the short-field landings pretty much right each time, and I don't find it difficult anymore to ride the plane in nose-up with measured changes to the throttle for the soft-field landings.
The hood and airwork over the Valley also goes well, despite the sometimes really heavy turbulence from the hills to the west. The ground reference maneuvers don't go so well (especially given the strong gusty wind in the Valley), but I don't think I'm ever going to get them right.
* * *
The Diablo Valley east of Dublin and Danville used to be a nice isolated practice area where you could fly without worrying about irritating anyone on the ground while doing (say) S-turns along a road, or turns around a point, or engine-out practices approaches. When I first saw the Valley (in the mid-1980's) it was still a set of small cities and towns connected by a highway, with a lot of open space and farmland between the towns. It's now a single large north-south sprawl along the Interstate 680 corridor, with huge multi-storey two-garage suburban tract houses set down on hills that have simply had the top 200' cut off them, or valleys filled in and paved-over (and they all have names like "Livermore Commons" (as if there were ever any commons in California...) or "Running Brook"). There's virtually no open space now between the hills to the west and the Mt Diablo range to the east. No one farms the Diablo Valley any more. Much of this development has actually happened in the past four years. One particularly large development on what used to be the outskirts of Danville was just a few tentative scars on the ground when I started flying in April earlier this year; it's now had the hilltops removed, been leveled and graded, the roads paved and guttered... and the houses are starting to spring up in the usual pink-roofed rash. The California Dream.
All of which means, of course, that the practice area is now over suburban sprawl. Meaning it's now almost impossible to do the ground reference maneuvers or engine-out practices without either being illegally close to something on the ground, or -- more worryingly -- causing a local on the ground to get irate about that damn plane buzzing his house. Never mind that the plane is actually 1,000' AGL (quite legal) and that the practice area was there first.... It's the same old story. In any case, we cut the ground reference maneuvers short today because as we looked down, we realised we'd simply run out of useful places to do this. The field we used for engine-out practices in April and May is now -- October -- too close to the new developments to be able to legally get below 500'. Oh well. We retreat back to Oakland; the next practice will be out over San Pablo Bay in the other designated practice area.
People sometimes ask me what I'm actually going to do with the license once I've got it. I suspect some non-pilots think it'll just allow me to give up my current job and step into any old airplane and fly it for a living or whatever.... I do occasionally daydream about giving it all up and becoming a bush pilot in Alaska or the Australian Outback (at least I have the accent, sort of), lugging cargo or paying passengers or sick animals or whatever around in a battered old Twin Otter, an aging Duchess, or a nice new Cessna Caravan (ha!), but the reality's a bit more mundane. I don't have the patience to spend several years with no real income doing my commercial certificate and all the rest (and I definitely don't have the money). Besides, it sounds too much like a midlife crisis thing to me. Plus I'd look terrible with a beard.
In reality, I don't know what I'll do with the license beyond the usual joyflights with friends and longer cross-countries for no good reason at all. And I guess I don't care....
I think I'm going to scream... more checkride practice, more diversions, more airwork, more hoodwork, more ... At least the landings are still consistently right -- all species of landings, but particularly the short-field ones. Dave seems pretty pleased with the way things are going.
Nothing too interesting today except the Cessna Cardinal entering the pattern at Concord in front of us, visibly and obviously lining up on final for runway 32R rather than making the two mile right base for runway 1R he'd actually been cleared for. Tower tells us to follow him, but instead I blurt out on-air "Tower, the Cardinal's not actually landing at Concord, is he?" (sounds best if done with a slightly incredulous Anglo-Australian accent). Dave immediately makes a rather more erm, forceful, on-air assessment of the situation than I do, and Tower wakes up to what's happening (she's obviously as confused about the Cardinal's intentions as we are). As compensation we get to land number one with the Cardinal being sent back around to the penalty box for a while. It didn't help that earlier he'd confused east and west when reporting his initial callup location, and continued giving confused reports right up until we saw him coming straight at us.
More checkride practice. This time we head to Modesto, then divert towards San Carlos (SQL) once over the hills -- i.e. roughly a 180 turn back across the Bay -- a real challenge of ATC work (three airspaces abutting each other need to be traversed), airspace-specific planning, and general routing / heading calculations all done on the fly at 110 mph. I hate this stuff (it's so unrealistic). But it goes OK, and we do a varied bunch of touch-and-goes at SQL, then head back over the Bay and the hills for airwork. Not a long practice, since it all seems to be going OK (except for the bloody turns-around-a-point which I think I'll never get...).
* * *
In the pattern at San Carlos we hear a (wait for it...) Cardinal... confidently report that he's "at 1200' over the bridge about seven miles southwest" of San Carlos inbound for landing. There are no bridges of any note southwest of San Carlos this side of Hawaii. His reported position and altitude would put him a few hundred feet under the San Andreas fault. There are a couple of famous and very obvious bridges across the Bay a few kilometres to the north and east that SQL uses as reporting points, though. Tower drily makes a similar sort of observation and prods him to find out where he really is....
I think I'm developing this ... thing... about Cardinal pilots now. My guess is that they're the Volvo Drivers of the airways.
More haze (it hasn't really let up now for months).... Another checkride run-through, the same old stuff, a diversion to Concord, short- and soft-field work, airwork, hood / VOR work, ground reference maneuvers.
But first we have to get airborne... In the club before Dave arrives, I notice 12R is due for its 100 hour inspection... on the day of my checkride. Doug and Pierre arrive a few minutes later, and we arrange for the 100 hour work to be done tomorrow and Wednesday instead. No one knew Thursday was my checkride day.... But I have to get 12R back early (18.00) so Pierre can start the work tonight. No problem, I think.
So when Dave arrives we take 12R out to 33 via the runup area. But during the runup, the left magneto fails consistently, leaving the engine very rough even after a full-RPM several-minute runup. I decide to do the obvious thing, and cancel the flight -- it's only the left magneto, but it'd mean real trouble if the other side failed as well -- and we head back to the club. This is the first time I've had something like this happen.
So... no 12R for checkride practice. This could be really irritating, but I guess I'm not too worried -- I'm about as prepared for the test as I can be already. I decide we might as well take 45H instead, even though it handles a little differently. I might need 45H for the checkride anyway, if we can't get 12R through the 100 hour inspection properly.
The rest of flight / checkride goes well -- the only problems come when I miss several ATC calls at Concord because I'm still listening for "4312R" (or "12R") rather than "5445H" or "45H". I feel really dumb about this, but it's another lesson, and ATC remains kind of patient through it all. I've now landed on every runway in every direction at Concord -- 1R, 1L, 19R, 19L, 14L, 14R, 32L, 32R. Cool! I feel like an old veteran or something (do I get a medal?!). And in the end, 45H turns out to be just as easy to fly as 12R -- certainly different in the way it handles, but nothing that would cause problems on a checkride (one welcome difference is that 45H needs less right rudder at slow speed than 12R. I think 12R's rudder trim tab is set wrong, but I don't want to squawk it until after the checkride...).
Back at the clubhouse Dave takes me through 12R's engine and airframe logs again so I can identify when the next 100 hour, annual, etc. checkups are needed and when things like the transponder or static / pitot system need to be serviced. I have to take these logs to my orals on Thursday -- not just to prove I know these things, but to give Larry Peters a chance to see if the plane he's about to fly in is legal.
We then head out to a nice little Mexican restaurant on Park in Alameda, where we do the paperwork for the checkride, and go through a small oral test (again). And eat, of course.... Dave gives me a bit of a pep talk, but I don't think I really need pepping up ... yet.
The haze continues, it's getting on my nerves, it's unnatural, and it's reducing visibility to MVFR or even (for part of today) IFR conditions at OAK at a time of the year when we normally get severe clear for weeks at a time. The long-running bushfires in the hills aren't helping. And I'm starting to obsess about tomorrow: not about me or my flying, which I'm in control of (and for which I'm as ready as I'll ever be), but 12R (did they get the magnetos fixed? Was there really anything wrong with them in the first place, or was it just me?), the weather (it'd be just like me to have a thunderstorm appear suddenly (and impossibly) through the haze tomorrow afternoon; maybe we could have a meteor strike, too...[we're talking here about a person whose debut photo exhibition in London was canceled -- and never rescheduled -- because the gallery water pipes burst the night before in a freak and not-seen-in-200-years freeze, doing long-term damage to gallery and prints, so I have my precedents for being neurotic about the weather...]), etc. I want to at least be given the chance to do this properly, and not wait another two weeks for a second chance just because the engine was rough on runup....
Later: Dave rings and gives me another pep talk and advice, etc. He tells me the plugs in 12R were bad, and were replaced today. This is a relief (I worried that it was a marginal problem that Pierre wouldn't experience when he tried it later yesterday, and, of course, I would see it on the checkride runup tomorrow).
(The good side to the haze is the predominantly smooth air it signals, and the likely lack of strong crosswinds at any of the Bay Area airports we're likely to visit on the checkride).
The Big Day... typically weird weather, the haze giving a 3 mile visibility at best, and the wind starts light and variable, but from unsual directions. When I get out to the club, the blue-and-silver 170 usually parked in front of North Fields Aviation is doing touch and goes on runway 15, something I've never seen before. A beautiful red, white, and blue Citabria taxis over to the Old T's and Lou F. emerges with a younger guy who turns out to own the plane (Lou's giving him acrobatic instruction).
Doug and Pierre are both at the club when I arrive, and they've got all the airframe and engine logs ready and in order for me, and both wish me luck (Doug says something about how it'll be a pushover for a young (ha!) whippersnapper like me...). I taxi 12R to Kaiser to meet Larry Peters, the examiner. I feel very nervous, but also a bit impatient. I really, really, really want to get this over with....
I wait around in the Kaiser terminal for about 30 minutes, and Mr. Peters arrives. I haven't been told what he looks like, but he's the only person it could be -- tall, thin, probably in his late 40's or early 50's, casually-dressed, glasses. He seems to know everyone in the building. I introduce myself, and we find a corner to do the orals in.
The orals -- and the initial paperwork -- go very quickly. He notes the 100% written test mark, and after a bunch of typical questions about the prepared flight to Lake Tahoe, about airspaces, safety factors, charts, frequencies, etc., -- he says he's satisfied. I got most of the questions correct, as far as I could tell. I show him the airframe and engine logs, telling him we'd had the annual and static / pitot / altimeter and transponder checks all done yesterday. He just glances at them, then tells me he'll meet me at the plane in ten minutes, so I should get ATIS and get the plane ready. He actually seems like a decent human being....
Ten minutes later he shows up at 12R, and we discuss what we'll do. We'll head towards PVF (Placerville, the end of the first leg of the prepared cross-country), and he'll divert me en-route. We do a soft-field takeoff on 33, and everything goes well until the diversion. Just past Mt Diablo he announces that we'll be diverting to Livermore (LVK), and I do what I think I'm supposed to do. He just sits there passively, rarely saying anything. In fact, he's got a mic problem, and for much of the flight we have a communications problem -- I really can't always hear what he's saying or asking for, which ends up driving me crazy....
I tell him the new heading (140), then say I'm actually going to do a dog-leg to LVK rather than direct because I don't really want to pass over Mt Diablo at such a low altitude. He gives a non-committal answer, so I do this. We get strange instructions from LVK tower -- a 2 mile left base into runway 7L -- which I should have queried rather than accepted (a 45 degree entry into downwind would have made much more sense from where we were; in retrospect, I think tower probably didn't believe my initial position report, or misheard it). In order to make the 2 mile final reporting point I have to divert even further from the announced heading. Just as we're on final, I get the first of many terse head-shaking chewings out: "You said the heading was 140. At one point there you were flying 200. That's 60 degrees out! In real life you'd never have found the airport!". I feel like a total moron (but at least I had found the airport -- due to the haze, when I started the diversion, it was totally invisible, and I had only the most general idea of where it was or should be).
The first landing was supposed to be a soft-field landing, but it went to pieces in the flare, and he had me taxi back to 7L, spending most of the time bitterly criticising me for screwing up the landing. I deserved it. The rest of the takeoffs and landings here at LVK (done in a left cross-wind) actually go reasonably (the next soft-field landing is good...), and I don't get too heavily criticised.
We do just about every variety of landing and takeoff, then head back northwest out of LVK, and do the VOR / hood work, and the airwork. None of this goes very well, and one part of the VOR stuff goes terribly. I'm tempted to blame miscommunication here, but that's at least as much much my responsibility as pilot as his as examiner. In any case, I end up feeling even more like a total moron, and wondering why he doesn't just head me back to Oakland so he can get out early and leave me to my misery. Anyway, we run though the usual gamut of airwork -- stalls, steep turns, ground-reference maneuvers, engine out procedures, etc. -- and I just keep screwing up. Or at least I just keep giving him reason after reason to chew me out and criticise me. I end up feeling depressed and humiliated, and just wanting it all over (the one bright spot here was I did the ground reference maneuvers much better than usual).
Finally he says "let's head back to Oakland.". I can't tell whether it's because he's sick of me or whether the test's all over. I have no clear idea whether he's failed me or not. All I know is that he's spent most of the past 90 minutes criticising nearly everything I've done, in terms that often implied I'd failed miserably. I get Oakland ATIS. It starts with a jaunty "Welcome to Metropolitan Oakland Airport, the world's nicest little international airport!" (or something very similar). Mr. Peters actually smiles when he hears this. I cope well with ATC and general flying the entire time, and the flight back to Oakland is uneventful. It's so hazy I use the OAK 27R ILS to find the runway, which doesn't become visible at all until about almost exactly three miles out (I would have refused to fly today on my own). Mr. Peters seems impressed that I knew how to use the ILS, and starts lightening up a bit. He actually makes a joke about callsigns.
He tells me to do a short field landing on 27R, but I misunderstand what he wants in detail. I do what I think is a triumphantly good short-field landing, only to have him turn to me and tell me we'd both be dead now if that had been a real short-field landing the way he'd asked me to do it. Arrgh! I feel worse than moronic.
So we taxi to Kaiser, me thinking I'm the worst pilot in the world, that I never want to see the inside of another small plane as long as I live, and thinking it's a dead certainty that I've failed. I stop the plane at the fuel pumps. Suddenly he turns to me with a big smile on his face, shakes my hand, and says "congratulations!". Suddenly, he's human again. It's a strange transformation... we talk a little bit about the experience, and he gives me several good tips about my flying, and says that in general, while it could have been an excellent checkride -- my radio work, planning, cruise flight, "normal flying", etc., were all very good -- it was only a mediocre checkride because of ... (and here he rolls off a list of about a dozen things I did wrong). Oh well.
He goes off to type up my temporary license, and I tie the plane down and wait in Kaiser. I should be feeling elated, but I feel terrible. I feel depressed at how badly I flew, and humiliated by the whole process. I still don't feel much like ever flying again. Mr. Peters was often spot-on (and very fair) with his criticisms, which makes me feel even worse.
He returns from his office just down the row of hangars, and hands me my new temporary license (it's temporary until the FAA people in OK City get around to sending me the real license...). He shakes my hand again, and then he's off.
Well, I've passed the test, I have a private pilot's certificate... but I sure don't feel too good about it all. I flew like crap, and I feel like crap.
The whole checkride experience was pretty brutal and humiliating, and I ended up questioning whether I had what it takes. I spent the next day or so being really depressed -- Dave says this is a common reaction, which usually passes within a day or two. I did learn a lot, though, so it wasn't entirely bad. And Mr. Peters evidently thought I was safe and competent enough to be let loose on my own, which counts for a lot, I guess.
And by the end of today I feel a lot better about it and flying in general. I've booked 12R for a solo joyride on Monday....
A cool, clear, beautiful day, with only a slight Bay haze (none of that evil Bad Haze that we've been having for the past two months). I fly to Santa Rosa and back, a solo cross-country joyride, it's like a release, it's actually fun again.... Watching the fog roll in over the Coast Range, the vineyards at Sonoma and Napa, the Delta, the Diablo Valley, the patterns, colours, shapes... It's why I fly, I guess.
Once again, although it makes for a more boring story, the whole learning-to-fly experience was much less problematic than I thought it would be, and I never ran into any serious roadblocks or conceptual / skill problems that needed real remedial action. The whole thing was much smoother than I expected. But then I had a good instructor, belonged to a nice club, and had the time to do things when I liked....
Other than that, though, my original expectations were pretty realistic: it took a little over 6 months, and although I took a little more than 70 hours flying to get the license, I could have done it in 70 (I took the attitude that every hour's instruction was an hour flying (and therefore enjoyable in its own right), and also did a bunch of what amounted to joyrides that took up time). I guess most people would be able to do it in about 70-100 hours, even flying out of somewhere busy like Oakland. The minimum legal time is 40 hours; I'd be very wary of anyone who did it in that short a time around here (Podunk, NE, on the other hand...). Dave says if he had his way everyone would have maybe 200 hours before being allowed to get their license; I can see why....
I'm pleased that I did this through a club (the AAC) rather than an FBO or a more formal flight school. Firstly, the club has a bunch of experienced people who have no particular axe to grind, and who are happy to share their experiences or give you moral support when you need it. Secondly, unlike at a formal flight school like (say) Sierra Academy (across the way at OAK), I could chose my own instructor(s), learn at my own pace and on my own time, and I could choose between a more structured or less structured learning experience (I chose the latter, of course -- I've never been too good at rigidly formalised learning). Thirdly, of course, it's probably quite a lot cheaper with a club than with an FBO -- the AAC in particular is a good deal for first-time students like me (and besides, it's damn convenient...). I can thoroughly recommend the AAC as a place to learn if you live in the East Bay. On the other hand, if you're suited to it, the Sierra Academy does a damn good job of teaching you to fly.....
I've been asked whether I think learning to fly at a busy place like Oakland is better or worse than at somewhere like Byron (or similar) with no control tower, or in any case well away from the cramped and extremely busy airspace over the Bay Area. Well, I liked it immensely, and it gives you a good idea very early on of what ATC and busy airspaces in general are all about, and how to cope with them (not to mention what it feels like to wait 25 minutes behind a string of Sierra Academy 150's waiting to take off in front of you, or how to hold over the hills while Bay sorts out yet another hand-off problem with Tower. Or to hold over Berkeley while they clear the runways after an earthquake...). I read postings by pilots on (say) rec.aviation.piloting asking about the class B experience, and I realise some of them have never been in a class B airspace. Flying from Oakland, you pretty quickly learn how to transition through class B rather than go around it, and what to ask for (and how to sound...) to get that transition. This makes me more confident in general about ATC and airspaces, and gives me some sort of hope that I'll be able to cope with SoCal Aproach and the whole LA Airspace Experience when I fly down there next year.
But it's definitely not for everyone. The disadvantages are obvious: Oakland is a long way from any useful practice maneuvering areas, meaning you might spend 30 or 40 minutes of a single hour's flying getting to and from the maneuvering areas, and learning to cope with ATC in a busy environment like Oakland and Bay Approach can be a sink-or-swim experience. I think the message here is: your mileage may vary. I like sink-or-swim.... In any case, most people probably have the choice made for them by things like convenience and cost: Oakland is 20 minutes easy drive from work or home for me, and cheaper than any alternative out in the sticks (like Byron or Tracy). Most other people in the USA will not have the luxury of being so close to a busy GA-friendly class C airport (8th busiest airport in the USA...) under a busy class B airspace.
Another thing that comes to mind is just how important your choice of instructor can be. I was lucky (see below), but the whole experience could have been very different if I'd had an instructor I didn't get on well with, or whose teaching style clashed with my (stubborn) learning style. It's hard to get this right, though, for obvious reasons: how can you tell without having a few lessons? Well, that's probably the best, if not the cheapest, way to learn. I'd say don't be afraid to try instructors out with an hour's lesson, to talk to them a lot beforehand, and to get a feeling for whether you could spend the next six months in stressful situations stuck in a tiny airplane with them at close quarters. It's OK to switch instructors, at least at a place like the AAC, for personality and style reasons.
I want to thank Dave Montoya for teaching me so well, and for having a sense of humour; Cindy, Gary, Doug, Pierre, Zack, and the rest of the crew at the Alameda Aero Club for their help and support; Jan, Angus, and Derek for being willing passengers during the experience and for their support as well; and a bunch of friends and colleagues who were mostly able to suppress their urge to run screaming (or slump catatonic on the floor) every time I started talking about learning to fly....
David Montoya, CFI
A few words about Dave Montoya, my Certified Flying Instructor... As he says, "no amount of certificates, flight hours, or employment experience is as important as the ability to safely and competently teach people to fly and operate aircraft with good judgment and common sense. I know each student is unique and my teaching style incorporates not only the FAA requirements, but the student's needs and aspirations."
Dave managed to cope with my own rather stubborn and individual style of learning very well, and maintained a necessary sense of humour about it all at the same time (he never complained or got snippy when I told him what we'd be doing, which is always a good sign...). When I started thinking seriously about learning to fly, I really dreaded ending up with some sort of crusty old veteran who wouldn't take kindly to multiple earrings on a guy or who wouldn't appreciate jokes about the Sex Pistols or Southpark, or who had no flexibility in the way he taught. Dave easily passed the test from that point of view, and over the months it's been really enjoyable learning to fly with him.
Dave's abbreviated resume appears below; I'm also working on getting him a real web site.
ATP (Airline Transport Pilot)
CFI (Certified Flight Instructor)
CFII (Certified Instrument Flight Instructor)
MEI (Multi-Engine Flight Instructor)
AGI (Advanced Ground Instructor)
IGI (Instrument Ground Instructor)
FAA Level III (Gold) Wings
4,000+ hours total time (2,000+ multiengine / 1,500+ multi-turbine),
2,000+ hours of flight instruction given
Ich spreche Deutsch
Jeg taler dansk
Ik spreek Nederlands
Publications and professional experience
Regular contributing editor on aviation, flight instruction, how-to, and editorials, to Plane & Pilot, In Flight USA, AOPA Flight Training and several other publications.
Owner of an "Elite" regulation IFR Simulator with entire U.S. navigation and approach data base and approach plates with Advanced and MD-80 aircraft for Private, Instrument, CFII, and ATP candidates.
Associate in Science (A.S.) in Aeronautics & Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Geography of Transportation - San Francisco State University, 1988.
Former corporate and FAR part 121 Airline pilot with PIC/SIC experience on EFIS/FMS (Glass Cockpit) and traditional cockpit turboprops and jets - Graduate of Flight Safety International ATR 42/72 systems and full motion simulator training.
Professional piloting experience in all regions of the United States (New England, the Boston - Washington D.C. corridor, Deep South and Texas Gulf, Southwest and High Desert, Northwest, West, and San Francisco - Los Angeles - San Diego corridor.
15 years of aviation experience including FBO aircraft fueler and mechanic's aid, airline check-in agent (Lufthansa German Airlines, Canadian Airlines International, Northwest), airline Dutch/German interpreter (KLM Royal Dutch Airlines), Flight instructor, corporate pilot and airline pilot.
Member of Alameda Aero Club since 1986; Member of Board of Directors 1991 - 1994; Flight instructor since 1991.