Open day at RHV airport. I arrived early to find no parking and cops and people everywhere. I finally found a parking space and headed for Tradewinds. Grainne hadn’t shown up yet so I went for a look around. The whole transient parking area was cordoned off along with a chunk of taxiway Zulu. There was a bunch of cool planes most of which I couldn’t identify, a bunch of bi-planes, some Skyhawks and Skylanes and a couple of what I think were YAKs one had Russian words painted on its side and the other had Chinese. The San Jose PD helicopter was there along with a life-flight helicopter. There was also plane rides for 10cents/lb. It was pretty hot walking around so I hung out in Tradewinds. Grainne showed up a little late. We spent some time going over what I had done with Yoed and decided that RHV would be too crazy for much so we would fly to LVK and do some pattern work there. As I walked out to the plane It was cool to walk past all the people just there to see the planes, and then walk through the police tape and out onto the apron, six weeks ago I’d have been stuck behind the tape as well.
Did a normal pre-flight inspection, through the fuel truck arrived half way through to top up the tanks. Just after engine start the life-flight helicopter flew in front of us really close and shook the plane a lot. The guy in ground control was just completely flustered with everything. With his main taxi way was closed and only one taxi way leading from the runways was open there were planes going every which way. Some guy was trying to get help having some planes moved so he could get to his tie-down spot. Ground control seemed to keep forgetting where people where and kept asking them to tell him. In general it was chaotic and I was glad to take-off. We made a right 45 departure which like the last time pretty much takes us right over my house. Took the time to note the emergency landing spots ahead of the runway, I knew they were there, but at least now I know where to find them.
This time I remembered all the checklists for climb and cruise and we had a nice flight at 3000’ over Calaveras Reservoir. The sky was really clear and we could see the skyline of San Francisco in the distance. We listened to Livermore ATIS and then called Livermore Tower over Sunol Golf Course. When we called on the frequency from the sectional (118.1) we were told to stay clear of class delta and call Livermore Tower on a different frequency. Don’t know why, but the Tower answered us on the new frequency and gave us clearance “for the option” (to land or do a touch and go). I did a reasonable job of getting us into left pattern for 25L though we entered a little low (only 600’ AGL – ok a lot low). We did four landings, two of which were touch and goes. The first approach was a bit low and we arrived on all three wheels again. I don’t specifically recall the next three it was a blur of getting through the checklists and the final approaches. While none of the landings were terrible, none of them were very good either. But at least we never had to do a go-around. On one touch and go I was following another plane on the departure leg and was just starting to believe he was not entering the pattern when the Tower told me to make my left turn onto crosswind. I probably should have called the Tower myself sooner to check what he was doing.
We made a crosswind departure and headed for home. Climbing up out of Livermore the Tower warned us about another aircraft crossing our path from the South, we couldn’t see him anywhere until Grainne told me to lift up the right wing and hey-presto there he was right above us. A valuable lesson in why you lift the wings to check for traffic. At 2500’ and back above Sunol, Grainne pulled the throttle back to idle and told me I had an engine failure. This time I knew I didn’t have an airport close by, but there was a lovely plowed field just below the golf course. I did a fine job of getting the right airspeed, and doing the cockpit checks through I forgot to actually take out the checklist and make sure I had not forgotten anything. I remembered to make the mayday call and to go through the emergency landing items (again without the checklist). It was a great pity therefore, that I would have a very difficult time actually making the landing in the spot I had picked out. As the field was below us I started a 360 degree turn to get lower. However, what I didn’t notice was a hill between me and the field topped with power lines. By the time I got around the turn I was really to low to get over the hill and lined up for the field. I forgot the first rule of emergencies to just FLY THE PLANE and really didn’t think through clearly exactly how I was going to get myself in the right place to land on the one good spot around. That makes two emergency landings in a row that I’ve messed up.
We powered up and headed for home. I leveled off at 2500’ above Calaveras Reservoir and got the RHV ATIS. At this point Grainne covered up the Airspeed, Altitude and Vertical Speed Indicators with post-its. So now we would do the landing at RHV with a simulated static port failure. I did a good job of judging when to start my descent and got into the right downwind leg at about the right altitude and I got the final approach nailed (with no distractions from those pesky instruments). The actual touch down was not so clean. Again I had some problems with the round-out and flare and were flew along a lot of runway before touching down. Still, the actual touch down was OK when it finally happened. I know that the problems I’m having with landings are common for most student pilots, but it is still frustrating to keep making the same mistakes. We will do more landings tomorrow probably at South County Airport, there just isn’t any substitute for practice.