I just got back from Australia yesterday and I thought I would be way too jet lagged to do any flying this weekend. But the weather was just beautiful, crystal clear, blue, cloudless skies. So I made a last minute decision to go early in the morning when I was still awake. I only had the plane until 11am so I couldn’t go too far and I wanted to go somewhere I hadn’t been to before. Half Moon Bay was the perfect destination.
I love the Bay Area, at this time of year when the hills are green the sky is blue and everything just sparkles it has to be one of the most beautiful places to fly. It is such a special privilege to be take a plane on a day like today and just fly. 5766J is the Buick of the Tradewinds fleet. It is a 1980 Skyhawk and is the plane I flew for my first solo. It somehow feels roomier inside with bigger more comfortable seats but it is slow and ponderous in the air. It is the perfect plane for a lazy morning pleasure flight.
I took off downwind from 31R and headed for South County, that is the easy waypoint to keep you away from San Jose class C. I turned west and headed for the ocean, then followed the coastline north, passing over Santa Crux and on up the coast to Half Moon Bay. This is just a spectacular trip that words can’t convey, you’ve just got to go see it for yourself.
Half Moon Bay Airport has a single runway 12-30. You can’t miss it, just north of the town and harbor. It is right traffic for 30 and left for 12, so you are always on the landward side of the runway. As I descended there was just a couple of aircraft flying south along the coast calling on the CTAF, they weren’t landing, just passing through. Some helpful soul responded to my request for a traffic advisory and told me that 30 was active with an 8 knot wind straight down the runway. I made a pretty good landing into a fairly stiff wind. The runway is in fair condition and its big (5000 x 150), apparently it was built for the military back in WWII as a coastal defense station. When you exit the runway turn right, towards the Bay. There is transient parking right down at the end which is apparently just a short walk to some fine restaurants. I unfortunately didn’t know this at the time and happily taxied all the way to the other end of the airport where there is absolutely nothing of interest to any body. I had pulled over and shut down the plan to have a smoke when a nice gentleman in a fire truck drove over to me to find out if I needed assistance, seeing as I had parked in place that suggested my plane was about to explode. I explained I had simply got lost on that last 3000’ of my journey from RHV and asked him where I should have gone. He told me, thus avoiding the embarrassment of this happening again with passengers whose confidence in my navigation abilities might be shaken by the experience.
Having taken the long way around on my way here I didn’t have any time to hang around and sightsee. So it was back into the air, and a downwind departure. I climbed up to 3000’ and got a baring and distance from the Woodside VOR and then called Sierra Approach and requested flight following back to Ried Hillview. I was really rusty on my radio work (I forgot to give my altitude a couple of times among other mistakes), but I guess it was a slow Sunday morning and ATC didn’t give me a hard time. The hand held GPS gave the heading back to RHV so as soon a got talking to Approach I turned for home. As expected I got passed off to San Jose Tower who told me to over-fly mid-field at or above 2000’. Things got a little interesting once I got passed SJC. There was a plane leaving RHV on IFR, so instead of handing me off to RHV tower as soon as I got over SJC (the usual procedure), I got vectored eastwards and was told to expect to approach RHV from the north. I finally got the hand-off just as I exited class C, about 3nm north of RHV. A quick call to RHV tower and I was given a downwind entry to 31R for an uneventful landing. This was my first time in class C since way back in my training (I think my stage II checkride when I flew to MRY) and it was definitely my first time solo in class C (which I didn’t even realize at the time). All in all a great flight!