Friday, June 22, 2012

What's up in San Francisco

A couple of years ago I wrote a series of columns about flying in the Western United States. Never had time to write about San Francisco so I thought I would do it now. 
The best airport to land at is Oakland (OAK). They love GA. There are 3 runways and 2 towers at OAK. One runway and tower is exclusively for the airlines. The other tower and 2 runways are for GA.
Don’t rent a car to go into the City. Traffic is miserable and there are limited parking spaces. The FBO, Kaiser Aviation, will take you to the BART train station, and upon your return call them the stop before and they will pick you up all at no charge. 
To get around in the City you can take the bus, train, cable car or taxi. San Francisco is a walking city. San Francisco has excellent food, and I recommend going to breakfast at Momma’s. This is the best breakfast I ever had anywhere in the world. Kuleto’s restaurant in the Villa Florence Hotel on Union Square has excellent dinners and is not overpriced. This is a place the locals go to eat. Then of course there is China Town. ENJOY!
You can rent a car almost anywhere if you wish to go to the wine country.
One site I would highly recommend is Alcatraz. A short boat ride from the Pier and it is a wonderful morning or afternoon. The tour is fantastic.
Shopping is abundant in Union Square and Cow Hollow. 
If time permits you could fly to Seattle and onto Victoria Island. Make sure to have your passport with you.
This article was published by CONCIERGE.COM and I found it to be extremely helpful.
Ten Things Not to Do in San Francisco
Perennially dubbed America's favorite city, San Francisco is high on every traveler's must-visit list. The kickback lifestyle is contagious, the food scene second to none, and the rugged coastal bluffs postcard ready. Who hasn't wanted to see the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge popping through the fog, or to climb impossibly steep hillsides aboard a clattering cable car?

But even icons have their shortcomings—tourist traps and mall brands to name a few. Some San Francisco classics live up to the hype—Alcatraz and its spectacular island setting, Chez Panisse's cutting-edge interpretations of culinary trends, the Fillmore's rock scene. But other big names, like Fisherman's Wharf, don't quite measure up. To help you avoid the common pitfalls most first-timers make in San Francisco (for starters, don't call it Frisco), here's our short list of must-nots.
1. If you're serious about fish, don't eat seafood at Fisherman's Wharf.
The old adage holds true: The better the view, the worse the food. Oh, you'll spot plenty of enticing-looking raw bars, with beefy-armed men in white aprons cracking open freshly boiled crabs, but no self-respecting San Francisco food-lover would dream of eating at any of Fisherman's Wharf tourist traps. We thought parsley-sprig and orange-wedge garnishes disappeared with the disco years, but apparently we were mistaken. It's not that the seafood isn't fresh, but in the hands of the assembly-line chefs, it's generally overcooked, badly sauced, and overpriced.
Instead: Eat at Swan Oyster Depot. For fresh-off-the-boat shellfish, queue up beside the locals at Swan Oyster Depot, a century-old landmark with just 20 stools lining a marble counter. With the exception of a creamy New England-style chowder, the entire menu is cold—oysters on the half shell, cracked crab, smoked fish and shrimp salad tossed in Louie dressing (a sort of Thousand Island without pickles). It's perfect picnic food to take to nearby Sterling Park, atop Russian Hill, where you can gaze out at the glittering blue bay as you lunch. But get there early: Once the lunch rush ends and the fish runs out, Swan Oyster Depot closes up shop. For a special-occasion white-tablecloth seafood feast, you won't find better than Aqua. On a par with New York's famed Le Bernardin, Aqua expertly blends French technique with New American sensibilities, using fresh-off-the-boat ingredients in such signature dishes as Moroccan-spiced tuna tartare and Alaskan halibut with licorice jus. Unlike at the Wharf, you won't soon forget what you ate.
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Instead: Eat at Swan Oyster Depot.
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2. If you love one-of-a-kind finds, don't shop in Union Square.
San Francisco's high-rent retail district, Union Square is by far the easiest place in town to max out your credit cards, with big names like Neiman Marcus, Marc Jacobs and Gucci. But let's face it, you can find those stores almost anywhere. Did you really fly all the way across the continent only to shop the chains?
Instead: Browse the boutiques in Hayes Valley. Get hip to the indie-designer scene in Hayes Valley, one of San Francisco's most happening neighborhoods, where inventive boutiques line a three-block stretch around Hayes Street, just west of Symphony Hall. Among our favorites: RAG Co-op rents rack space to 70 up-and-coming designers hawking denim skinnies, screen-printed tees, and the occasional vintage item. The look is very San Francisco—youthful, sporty, smart. Or take home something a bit more grown-up with a custom-made piece from Lemon Twist—choose the fabric and design, and they'll tailor it to hug your every curve. Best of all, chances are slim-to-none you'll spot someone else sporting the same frock.
3. For the best sourdough bread, don't go to Boudin Bakery.
Sourdough has a long history in San Francisco, thanks in large part to Boudin, which has been kneading bread since 1849. The place is an institution, and tourists line up to scoop chowder from the bakery's hollowed-out bread bowls. Trouble is, the bread just isn't that great. Not only could you break a filling on the tough-as-linoleum crust, but the dough is way over-soured and lacks any subtlety. Simply put, Boudin rests on its laurels and just hasn't kept pace with the city's cutting-edge food scene.
Instead: Head to Tartine. Weekend lines wrap around the block at this Mission District bakery, but they're made up of locals, not tourists. And with good reason: To find better pastry and bread, you'd have to fly to Paris. Don't believe us? Ask the James Beard Foundation, which named co-owners Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson as Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2008. The semi-sour, lightly yeasted sourdough bread comes out of the oven at 5pm Wednesday through Sunday afternoons, and it sells out in as little as an hour. If you're counting carbs and can't justify an entire loaf, come during the day and sample a dense, chewy slice of the country-style bread in one of the bakery's signature croques-monsieurs.
4. Unless you're stuck in 1968, don't look for counterculture on Haight Street.
In case you hadn't noticed, nobody has worn flowers in their hair since the 1970s—even on Haight Street, where packs of 16-year-olds in their Jim Morrison phase shop for tie-dye, and drug-addled former hippies crouch in doorways begging for spare change. The 'hood has become a parody of itself, a sort of '60s theme park with too many head shops and frat-boy bars, not to mention a Ben & Jerry's franchise occupying the storied corner of Haight and Ashbury streets. It's not all bad—there's great thrifting and shoe shopping, but you'll have to overcome the stink of patchouli to do it.
Instead: Explore the Mission District. For the real San Francisco-now experience, explore the gritty Mission District. Before the dot-com boom, the Mission was the last ungentrified central San Francisco neighborhood, historically the heart of the city's Latino community and the stomping ground of underground artists. Today weekend hipsters with day jobs in biotech have moved in, but the vibe remains decidedly experimental. Explore the Mission's famous murals in Clarion Alley with Precita Eyes Mural Tours, fuel up on $4 tacos, and then wander down Valencia Street (from 24th to 16th Sts) and pop into only-in-S.F. boutiques. At Paxton Gate you can peruse housewares like glass terraria and vintage taxidermy; Good Vibrations is ground zero for the latest in sex toys. Make love not war: That's the real way to channel the hippie Haight spirit.
5. If you're going to hop aboard San Francisco's most famous icons, don't take the Powell Street cable cars.
Lines snake around the cable car terminus at Powell and Market streets, the beginning of the two major cable-car lines (Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason), which carry tourists to Fisherman's Wharf. While you wait—sometimes as long as an hour—you're held hostage by D-grade accordion players, panhandlers, and evangelists threatening hellfire. All this hassle for a ride on a toy train?
Instead: Take the California Street line. Take the cable car line tourists don't know about: the California Street line. There's rarely a queue for this lightly traveled route because visitors don't know what to do at the end of the line, Van Ness Avenue. But we do: Grab a picnic lunch of succulent Cowgirl Creamery cheese and crusty French bread near the beginning of the route at the Ferry Building Marketplace and hop on the cable car at the foot of California Street. Then, from the terminus at Van Ness Avenue, walk to Lafayette Square, in swanky Pacific Heights, for a hilltop picnic in the shadow of stately townhouses. Afterward, window-shop Upper Fillmore St alongside the city's skirt-and-sweater matrons. (Tip: For a great photo on the cable car, shoot east downhill as you approach Stockton Street; the Bay Bridge tower is briefly framed just right between downtown skyscrapers.)
6. If you want a taste of waterfront life, don't waste your time at Pier 39.
Unless you have an insatiable refrigerator-magnet fetish, don't rub fanny packs with the hordes thronging Pier 39. Little more than an outdoor strip mall built to revitalize the once decrepit northern waterfront, Pier 39 overflows with tourists clutching bags of tatty souvenirs destined for future garage sales. The only smart reason to come is to ooh and aah at the sea lions lazing off the pier's northwestern side, but you can do this in the evening, once the shops have closed and the pier has emptied out.
Instead: Explore Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Get picture-postcard vistas of the bay's glittering waters from the waterfront promenades of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Wander west of Van Ness Avenue from Pier 39 along the wooded trails leading to Fort Mason, a former shipyard now home to experimental theaters and art workshops. Further west, Marina Green draws kite-fliers and sunbathers to a giant sweep of grass in view of bobbing masts of sailboats. But the big payoff is Crissy Field, a restored bay-front wetlands with raised boardwalks over the dunes, stellar bird-watching, and jaw-dropping views of the 70-story-high Golden Gate Bridge. If you've got good walking shoes on, keep going all the way to Fort Point, directly beneath the bridge, to see where Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart dove into the water in Hitchcock's 1958 thriller Vertigo (required viewing for all San Francisco visitors). And if the fog rolls in, fret not: Aim for Crissy Field's Warming Hut, where you'll find hot cocoa and National Park rangers to help you find your way home.
7. To get a real taste of Chinese culture, don't go to Grant Avenue in Chinatown.
No tour of San Francisco would be complete without a loop through Chinatown, the largest Chinese enclave this side of the Pacific. All those green-tile roofs, dragon lanterns, and Art Deco-Chinoiserie make for some damn good pictures, but don't miss out, as most tourists do, by sticking to Grant Avenue. If you do that, you'll walk right through Chinatown and miss the real thing, seeing only tchotchke shops and overpriced electronics stores.
Instead: Explore Chinatown's alleyways. Once you've snapped the obligatory shots of the Chinatown Gate and its green-tile portals topped with wriggling dragons, ignore the call of the pagoda-style roofs lining Grant Avenue and find your way to the real Chinatown in the side alleys. Listen for the clacking of mah-jongg tiles on Spofford Alley. Follow the scent of incense wafting from temples on Waverly Place. Dig the lushly colored murals on Ross Alley (which you may recognize from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). For locals, the real thoroughfare is not Grant Avenue, but parallel-running Stockton Street, where Chinese women stock up on fish heads and porcelain, and nary a hawker entices you to empty your wallet on cheap electronics and miniature cable cars. For dim sum, stick with the standby City View (415-398-2838; 662 Commercial St; lunch only); most other Chinatown options are lackluster. Or hop a cab and head to Ton Kiang in the Richmond District—the upwardly mobile new Chinatown—where you'll gorge on a stream of impeccably fresh dim sum served up in soft translucent wrappers.
8. If you want to take to the water, don't pile onto the ferry to Sausalito.
Nothing beats the view of San Francisco from the water, especially right after the fog breaks and the downtown skyline and the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge emerge beneath a peerless blue sky. Short of chartering a sailboat, the best way to see it is aboard a ferry boat. Sausalito used to be the prime destination, but the little bayside artist colony has been overrun by tourists who clog the pretty streets, pack the assembly-line seafood restaurants, and zap all the fun of discovery for would-be explorers. Talk about a buzz kill.
Instead: Take the ferry to Tiburon. Ride the ferry to Tiburon, a village in Marin County with a picturesque main street straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. You'll get the same amazing shots as you sail past Alcatraz and Angel Island, and once you arrive in port, you'll have room to roam away from the herd. Poke your head into cute boutiques, snag a table for the obligatory dockside lunch at Sam's Grill (beware the seagulls swooping down on your fish and chips), and you've pretty much done Tiburon. But that's part of the charm. For full immersion in the kick-back Marin County lifestyle, snag a bay-view room at the Waters Edge Hotel and sip cocktails as the sun slips into the Pacific beyond the Golden Gate Bridge.
9. If you want to explore the San Francisco gay scene, don't cruise the Castro.
A giant rainbow flag flies over the intersection of Market and Castro streets, marking the gayest spot in the entire world. Trouble is, it's tired. Blame it on gay marriage, blame it on the Internet, but hardly anybody cruises Castro Street anymore. The bars have become decidedly mixed, with trashy suburban girls puking on their Payless pumps outside the bars, killing the cruise-y vibe. Don't get us wrong, the Castro is fun, but it's just not sexy anymore—unless your idea of hot is a rainbow-ring necklace.
Instead: seek out the locals scene. The gay scene is a moving target, and you're going to have to do your homework once you get here. Chat up local boys catching rays at the southwest corner of Dolores Park (near Church and 20th streets) on any sunny weekend afternoon, spring through fall. If you're here on a rare, hot beach day, you've got one choice: Marshall's Beach (aka Marcia's Beach), the nude strip under the Golden Gate. As of this writing, the hottest neighborhood bar is Blackbird, a former Market Street gin joint, now a slick spot for mixology and guys in tight tees. (Check out the decoupage murals made from gruesome and lurid newspaper headlines.) On Sundays, get started early with the afternoon beer bust at the Eagle Tavern; later, join the art school hotties bumping and grinding to queer DJ collective Honey Soundsystem, which spins everything from b-side disco to obscure German techno at Paradise Lounge. For classic drag, you can't go wrong on a Friday or Saturday night at Aunt Charlie's Lounge, when Gina La Divina (aka the $65,000 Silicone Wonder) and Vicki Marlane (aka the World's Oldest Living Drag Queen) host the Hot Boxxx Girls.
10. Unless you want to freeze your butt off, don't wear shorts in July.
Nothing amuses locals more than spotting tourists shivering in shorts and sandals as they cling to the open sides of passing cable cars. Unless you want to spend your first afternoon in San Francisco shopping for an ugly sweat suit you'll never wear again, pack long pants and a jacket.
Instead: Bring lots of layers. Wear layers and expect three seasons in a day—brisk fall-like mornings, warm summery days, and wintry afternoons. In summer, the weatherman's forecast is like a daily mantra: Fog and low clouds clearing to the coast by midday, with temperatures in the upper 60s and fog returning late in the afternoon. Late spring and early fall tend to be the most temperate times, but don't count on any heat waves. Year-round, the San Francisco uniform for both men and women consists of jeans, cotton tee, Merino sweater, and lightweight jacket (only in December will you need a scarf and gloves). It's a different story altogether once you cross the bay, where inland temperatures soar a whopping 30 degrees warmer in July. But unless you're packing for a side trip to wine country, leave your Bermudas at home. You'll thank us later.

Thursday, June 7, 2012





A couple of months ago I wrote about how helpful the FAA was in re-instituting the VOR A approach and Cat D approaches at Scottsdale (SDL) Airport. They were published April, 2012. While flying and listening to the SDL ATIS I heard that the VOR A approach was not available. I called the tower to discuss this, and they were never made aware of the new approaches. I then called TRACON to inform them and found out that no procedure was in place to notify airports of changes in approaches or departures. After our conversation TRACON has instituted new procedures to let airports know of any changes. This could have been a serious safety issue and glad that it was not.

Sky Radar

I deal with a lot of retailers in and out of Aviation. I have never dealt with anyone that did not give a thirty day price guarantee on their product, until now. I bought a Sky Radar ADS-B IN unit after they dropped their price $150.00. Two weeks after I received my unit they dropped the price another $220. In addition their 7 day ground shipping charge was $30.00. Their product is excellent however I can’t recommending buying from them as I feel ripped off. I was also in touch with Sky Radar on several occasions, and they knew I was writing a column on their ADS-B In.

There are other players in this field now, and I suggest you check them out before making a decision.


I have made many flights with WingX. They keep adding informational videos to their Web site. Their tips are very informative, and I keep learning new ways to fully utilize this product.

After flying with Synthetic Vision for a while, I decided this is not a product for me. I receive terrain avoidance from the moving map page. I do not need duplication. On a VFR flight I keep my head up looking outside and refer to the moving map when needed. I would definitely buy the Seattle Avionics geo referenced charts if you fly IFR.


Won’t be making it to Oshkosh this year. I think there will be a lot of interesting product introductions. Check out Clarity ADS-B IN. They have already reduce their price. Remember XM Weather is $55 a month, and the ADS-B units are now little as $600. This means the payback is now only 11 months.


I have a hangar neighbor that built a Vans RV7A and has flown it over 150 hours a year since finishing his project over a 5 year period.

Another friend is just finishing up his RV7A. He built the whole project in his workshop at home, and it will probably be painted and complete by time this goes to print. He has more equipment on his RV7 that the airliners would be jealous of, including ADS B IN and OUT. Their are so many buttons on the stick he will never have to remove his hand for almost anything.

It’s time the FAA recognize the quality of equipment being put on experimental aircraft and allow these products on older certified aircraft. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an autopilot for 1/3 the cost of a TSO’d autopilot. On older aircraft, TSO’d equipment is too expensive to justify the purchase. We would be a lot safer fleet if the FAA would open their minds. I bet that will never happen.


Times are changing. It’s hard to write a column that is relevant as I usually write a column two months in advance of published date and submit the final column 1 month in advance. With the advent of both audio and video podcasts along with blogs that are posted online information is more current. That means if publications like PLANE AND PILOT NEWS are to survive the columnist must write more of a generic story then one that is on current and hot news, as everyone will be aware of that news as it happens. Product reviews are good because I can try to educate the reader to assist in making their decision. There are several columnist for this publication that do an excellent job in providing information that won’t be stale by time you read it.


In previous columns I stated it’s not only the hours one has but most important is the training one has. The airlines have the ability to train their pilots to the highest levels, but they don’t. The reason is cost. The sim is booked almost 24/7 and there is not enough time to perform tasks outside of what is expected. Airlines throw their pilots in the simulator to get through the basic recurrent training. The pilot doesn’t want to do anything else in the sim once their ticket is renewed. The airlines don’t want to do any further training as it cost money. There are so many scenarios that aren’t covered in the sim such as coffin corner of high altitude flight, icing on decent, stalls and many others. So our airline pilots are not as well trained as we think they are.

I was incorrect when I stated that all pilots need a college degree to fly for the airlines. I talked to Roger Cohen, President of the Regionals. Roger stated that a degree is not necessary to fly for the Regionals. I then talked to a Delta Captain and Delta now requires a degree. Talking to US Air, they do not require a degree. Southwest Airlines does not require a degree, however it is preferred that one has a degree. SWA pilot requirements for hours and turbine hours is the highest in the industry. Sim time does not count. One must also have a 737 type rating before completing the hiring requirements.

I personally feel that SWA has the best trained and most capable pilots of any airline. Their are great individual pilots at all the airlines. The FAA has no requirement that one must have a degree to be an airline pilot.

I was also corrected by Roger that current FO’s are not grandfathered under the proposed 1500 hour rule. The FAA, not Congress, will determine what is needed when they issue their rule making decision. The airlines are asking to grandfather the current FO’s so there won’t be a shortage of airline pilots.

As I stated earlier I still believe it is not the number of hours one has, but the training they have. Flying around in circles as a flight instructor to build hours just doesn’t cut the mustard. More sim training is needed where pilots won’t be graded for their mistakes, but the airlines don’t have enough available sim time.