Palo Alto-Petaluma and back

Tuesday afternoon I was working and decided to check out, a web site that plays air traffic control audio for a huge range of airports worldwide. Soon enough I had fired up the Palo Alto tower, which led to looking out the window, which led to me reserving an airplane for a quick flight to Petaluma. Why there? It was just over 50nm away from Palo Alto, meaning that I could log the flight as cross-country time towards my instrument rating.

I got to the airport, preflighted the airplane, and enjoyed a smooth takeoff; departure had me do a right 45° departure and head towards the Oakland airport. I got on the radio with NORCAL Approach, who routed me over the runway 29 numbers at Oakland International and then cleared me further to the north. The sun was lowering in the western sky, which gave me a few pretty nice photo opportunities:

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Approaching KOAK rwy 29 from the south; the numbers are just out of frame on the lower right

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the city of San Francisco; that’s the Bay Bridge in the foreground

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the Golden Gate Bridge, with bonus freighter

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Both bridges, plus shafts of light through the city fog (you might need to see the full-size version to see them)


The Petaluma airport was easy to see, and I had a good landing on runway 29. Sadly, the diner there closes at 3pm, and I got there about 7:30pm. So, my key learning for this flight: verify the status of your proposed dinner destination before takeoff. I got out, stretched my legs, and fired the plane back up to return to Palo Alto; the night view was absolutely stunning, but I didn’t take any pictures.. maybe next time. Since it was dark, I went ahead and shot 3 landings to update my night currency; my last landing was a power-off, short-field squeaker that would have pleased even my  picky CFI.

An evening well spent…

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