Sunday October 27th 2002, 12:30pm, N739YE, 1.4H

I’ve fallen a bit behind in my journal so I’ll keep these entries short. Finally the weather started behaving and I could fly solo again. The last solo I’d done was almost two weeks ago when I was checked out to land in South County and Hollister. I was keen to finally get out into the practice area on my own, all my other solo‘s were in the pattern at RHV. It was a beautiful day, not too warm, no wind and 10 miles visibility. I was supposed to be flying N5766J, when I asked for the book they told me that the last pilot had squawked it for the low voltage light coming on. I know that some of the planes will flash this light if the engine is at low RPM and you have the landing light and transponder on so I decided I’d take it and just keep a close eye on the ammeter. I got thought the external pre-flight and started on the internal checklist when I discovered that the ALT FIELD circuit breaker was popped. I reset it, switched on master and it popped again – there was some problem with the alternator so 5766J was grounded. I was lucky that someone had just cancelled 739YE so I got it. Another pre-flight and this plane was ready to go.
Everything went well until I got to the hold short line of 31R. I called the tower and got no response, I tried ground control and same result, Oh no, he we go again with the radio problems. I turned back around and parked myself in the run-up area again to see if I could work it out. It only took a minute, the speaker jack had pulled out of its socket so I couldn’t hear anything. I got it plugged back in, got back to the hold short line and was cleared to takeoff.

I didn’t have a real firm plan what I was going to practice, other than some landings at South County. I really just wanted to get away from RHV on my own and enjoy flying without too much hard work. I flew down past Anderson Reservoir to give myself some margin from anyone else practicing and just enjoyed flying, did a couple of clearing turns and then a steep turn to the right and another to the left. Did another couple of clearing turns and tried a couple more steep turns. These all went well, held altitude and airspeed fairly constant and came out pretty much on the heading I wanted. At this point I turned around to head to South County. There was one plane in the pattern and as I descended over the golf course East of the field another plane entered the right downwind and I turned to follow him onto the downwind leg. With three planes in the pattern I ended up extending my downwind leg a bit to leave some spacing.

I tried a short-field landing, and it went really well, nice and soft and an easy turn off onto the first taxiway. The plane ahead of me had done a touch and go and the other took off again as I taxied back to takeoff. I did two more landings at South County and they were both spot on. Its really nice to nail the landings on a consistent basic. After the third takeoff I headed for home. The trip back was uneventful, I had a nice stable straight in approach for 31L, got changed to 31R at the 3 mile mark and made a forth great landing to close the day. All in all a very enjoyable flight and another shot of confidence after my first solo trip away from the RHV pattern.