Wheels Down, Livermore

After many weeks of departing from Hayward (KHWD), flying around in circles for a bit, then landing back at Hayward, I can finally add another airport to my log book.

We needed to do some pattern work (flying in a circuit around the runway) today and as nice of a place Hayward is, their patterns are weird. KHWD is located about 4 nautical miles southeast of Oakland International Airport (KOAK).

This puts Oakland's approach directly to the west of KHWD's pattern for runway 28L. Meaning all the Southwest flights bringing unsuspecting tourists into Oakland, are flying quite close to the airport where schmucks like me learn to fly. To prevent any issues between the conflicting traffic the pattern altitude at KHWD for 28L is 650ft AGL (above ground level), and 850ft AGL for 28R.

In my instructor's words "the pattern at Hayward is like a normal pattern, on fast-forward." Therefore, we decided to head east towards Livermore airport (KLVK) where we could work at normal pattern altitude (1000ft AGL) and do some approaches, landings and touch-and-go's.


If you haven't been out towards Livermore, I'd recommend that you don't. Turns out it is hot over there. It's the kind of heat that folks back in Texas say "bahh! that's not that hot! It's not even over 95!" while they blast their A/C up to 4, keeping the inside of the car under 65 while they drink their gallon-cup of crushed ice lemonade from Sonic. Anyways, the trouble is, single-engine planes, especially trainers, don't have any air conditioning, just air vents which bathe you in the hot dry air from outside.

Combine that heat with the stress of practicing approaches, working with a new tower, new landscape and a surprisingly busy class D airfield, and you'd sweat your shirt through just like I did. Not that I'm one to complain.

The heat only really became apparent as we entered their airspace, but by then, we were committed to practicing out there, clearly demonstrating poor pilot's judgement.

One approach and landing down, we taxi off the runway, clean up the plane (flaps up, carb heat off, transponder to standby) and then call ground to taxi right back to the beginning of the runway. Before ground had responded, my instructor had his door open and I had my window open to ventilate the sweat box we were now taxiing in.

Shortly after our first take-off from KLVK, the frequency starts getting a lot of feedback and interference. We both key our mics, to make sure we weren't the jackalopes flying around with a stuck microphone (we weren't). By the time we turned onto the downwind leg of the circuit, Livermore Tower was instructing everybody to change frequencies because the stuck mic was becoming a pretty big distraction.

A few more touch-and-go's and my instructor decides to show me a forward slip which is basically using the plane's fuselage as a big airbrake to shed altitude and speed quickly. Unlike most manuevers we've worked on, the forward slip requires 100% input of the rudder, giving the student (me) the opportunity to find out exactly how far the rudder pedals go. We recover at about 100ft AGL, perform another touch-and-go, and then back into the pattern.

According to my log book I performed 7 landings, I wasn't really keeping count, except for the last one back at Hayward where everything was looking perfect on the approach. Wind coming directly down the pipe, flaps to 30, centerline was looking perfect, drift looked good, carried by ground effect a bit and then flared ... and touched down flat (all three wheels at once).


More lessons to come and of course more things to learn, but at least one minor milestone acheived: I've now landed at another airfield.

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