Today I flew 310 miles under cloudy skies, and occasionally in Marginal VFR conditions. It rained lightly off an on with winds gusting up to 18 knots. I was able to dodge the bad stuff. It was a lovely experience with lots of low altitude flying. For the most part I had the skies to myself.

Before I fly in wet conditions I clean the canopy and treat it with Plexus. It helps the water bead up and stream off which improves visibility.

Before I fly I use a variety of tools to plan and investigate. I start with the weather. I get the big picture here or here. I often use this page to see current and projected temps, general weather, hazards, cloud cover, and wind. If I am going on a long flight I use The New Flight Path Tool to study winds aloft. You can save lots of time and fuel by picking a route and altitude that is wind favorable. The tool has many other features that make it worth while. For airspace and general airport information I use RMS Flightsoft Professional. To scout out a route through the mountains or to inspect an airport before I leave home I use Goggle Earth. If I am going to need fuel I use AirNav's Aviation Fuel web page.

One goal of today’s adventure was to land at airports new to me. I planed a loop into the big central valley of California.

As it turns out I landed at a total of 9 airports today, 7 new to me. I had planed for a total of 10 but one airport, on a mountain top ridge, turned out to be too MVFR for my liking so I skipped it.

The only misadventure occurred at an airport where there was a direct cross wind which made the traffic pattern ambiguous. I used my radio starting 10 miles out as I usually do to announce my approach. As I got closer and wind conditions became obvious I announced my intended pattern and started to fly it. Another plane whizzed past flying the pattern in the opposite way. Turns out the plane had no radio and no transponder. If he had had a radio I would have heard him or he me. If he had had a transponder my Zaon traffic computer would have picked him up. I chose to abort my pattern and follow him instead. As I turned final I saw him taxing back on the runway even though there was a perfectly good taxi way to use so I aborted my approach. Second time for this guy! Sure would enhance safety if folk would use modern equipment in their planes and learn to use taxi ways!

Near the end of my flight I stopped at the Cloverdale airport and Quality Sport Planes, the birth place of my airplane. No one home on this rainy day. But I topped off my plane's tanks so it will be ready for the next adventure.

When I get home from a flight I upload the track from my GPS and save it to the hard drive on my home computer. I sometime re-fly my trip in Google Earth. I also use the track information to update my Pilot's log book.

Below is my flight path for today.

Steve

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Comment by Brad DeMeo on February 15, 2009 at 10:47am
Hi, Steve. Thanks for the info. I saw you take off and heard your first landing. Good work on the radio. I sat in my hanger pining for my bird...it's still in the paint shop.
Comment by Sebastien Heintz on February 15, 2009 at 9:19am
Steve: good flight.
Thanks for the great web links!

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