Bay Tours are never routine for me — they're always full of wonderful sights, they're fun flying (if sometimes a little stressful with all that dodging other sightseeing planes and keeping out of the Class B airspace just above us), and the person or people I'm with usually enjoy it immensely. And so it is today, with my friend RS, who's never flown in a light plane before but is game to try it.
We depart Hayward (KHWD) in perfect cloudless VFR in one of the club's DA-40s, and she seems surprised by how much she enjoys it. She loves the steep(ish) turns, and keeps talking later about how pleasantly-surreal it all felt. She has trouble with the stick when I hand over control to her — she gives up after less than two minutes because she says she has no mental model of how it should work — but doesn’t seem fazed by that. We try to do the classic East Bay-based Bay Tour, but the Golden Gate is completely covered in incoming stratus, and after a few turns around Alcatraz and Angel Island we head off towards Napa (KAPC), where we land and wander across the apron into the terminal, hanging around for a few minutes watching the 1% go by in their shiny corporate jets (actually, pretty much nothing moved on the ramp the entire time we were there).
We get back in and head over towards Livermore (KLVK), doing a fly-by of Crockett (she has connections there), and doing a bunch of touch-and-goes at Livermore (because I can…) before returning via a detour over the Altamont windfarm and back over the hills to Hayward.
She's converted. She asks a lot of good questions about flying procedures (why did you fly at that specific altitude? How do you approach an airport? What happens when the control tower is closed? What are the pedals for if you turn using the stick? etc.) but definitely isn’t interested in being a pilot herself.
Just another Bay Tour? I don't think it's ever just another Bay Tour....
Departing KHWD for the golden gate bridge, what type of routing could I expect from ATC? Will they make you go to the east of KONT class C? Or will they allow you go fly direct to the golden gate through the Class C and B?
Normally you tell KHWD Ground on first callup that you want to transition Oakland's airspace for the Golden Gate (or the Bay Tour) and they basically arrange this for you -- you get a discrete squawk code, and after departing Hayward towards Lake Chabot Hayward Tower will fairly quickly hand you off directly to Oakland (KOAK) Tower, who'll tell you to keep over or to the east of Interstate-880 at or below 2,500' (or similar) inside KOAK's Class C but below the Class B. KOAK tower will eventually hand you off to NorCal Approach for flight following after you've transited tower's airspace; NorCal will then tell you to keep out of the Class B airspace and east and north of "the toll plaza" (the Bay Bridge tool gates), but that's it -- after that, you're on your own :-). I doubt you could get direct to the Golden Gate from KHWD -- Oakland wants you over or to the east of Interstate 880 until you're well past the airport....
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