San Franciso trip

I spent last weekend, as in 20-24 October, hanging out with my parents in San Francisco. Much of the time my parents arew attracted to a city because of one of the many quilting/knitting/other-fiber-related conferences that my Mom attends. but this time they just wanted to see the place. Because it’s so close we went up to see it with them. Of course this was a good excuse to fly.

The trip up was a nice easy VFR flight, scarcely worth mentioning. It seriously went very smoothly. We had considered a stop at Paso Robles to check out their restaurant, which is from all reports excellent, but a late start put us on the non-stop.

We met the folks at San Carlos Airport and after the requisite waiting for Mom & Dad to find the airport, we took off for a fun weekend.

We had a great time. The weather was unbelievably good, with several days of completely unrestricted visibilities, which made for spectacular views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge. Between my parents and Brenda, we had a fine selection of things to see including Muir Woods, the SF Art Institute cafe, many things in Golden Gate Park, the Winchester Mystery House, and a bunch of little restaurants in Burlingame. We even enjoyed a meal with Rod.  My parents are always fun to see, and we had a great time.

The return flight was Tuesday night, departing around 6:00 and I was hoping to get back to Santa Monica(SMO) before the tower closed at 9:00. Fortunately we had a good tailwind and got a timely reroute that shaved some time off our trip. We were IFR, both because I like to be IFR at night and because SMO was reporting 800 feet overcast when we left.

The flight was pretty routine. I did get a reroute, and got to hear a bunch of people shooting approaches in the Monterey area. Still, out over the Central Valley at night at 11,000 it’s quiet. The only troubling fact was that SMO’s weather had gone down to 600′ OVC. The approach bottoms out at 505′ AGL, so this was sounding a lot like an approach to minimums.

And it was, but still a really easy approach. I wouldn’t have though that made any sense, but here’s how it was. There was probably a 200′ thick overcast over SMO that got thinner as it went inland. For much of the approach we had pretty solid ground contact, and we reached BEVEY – a point about 6 miles from SMO – in good VFR over a thickening undercast. It quickly thickened up so we couldn’t see the ground, but at the last stepdown fix we plunged through about 200-300′ of clouds and popped out quickly enough to set up for a straightforward landing. Brenda actually enjoyed the approach quite a bit, and so did I, but it wasn’t a really challenging approach.

Fun flights and a great weekend.

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