Page 5.31 ( 4551)
Bay Area ATC System
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2003 Name Changes; ...Air Traffic Control (ATC); ...Crowded Skies; ...The New ATC; ...The System; ...Tower Operations; ...Class C and B Airspace; ...Terminal Area; ...Air Route traffic Control Centers; ...Radar Identification; ...FSS Procedures; ...Flight Watch; ...Pilot Arrival Operations; ...Pilot Departure Operations; ...Travis Airspace; ...Bay Area Weather; ...A Years Worth of Weather; ...300# Gorilla Flying IFR; ...Getting There on the Ground; ...Handing Over Controls

August 2003 Changes
Since this change as of August 2003 there have been several name changes.  All radar services except Military are now to be addressed as Norcal Approach
May 2004 Change
127.8 has become 124.32

Air Traffic Control (ATC)
The primary purpose of ATC is the give safe separation between aircraft. This includes airports, en route, and flight information. The secondary interest is the movement of aircraft. When no other aircraft is in conflict the pilot is in charge. When aircraft conflict in controlled airspace then the conflict and movement becomes a shared responsibility that can be shifted between ATC and the pilot. for example, when ATC points out traffic, the traffic is an ATC responsibility until the pilot acknowledges having the traffic in sight. At that point and until the pilot tells ATC that the traffic is no longer in sight, the traffic remains a pilot responsibility. There may be times when it is to the pilot's advantage "not to see' traffic and to report losing traffic that was once acknowledged as being seen.

In the moving of aircraft, the limiting factor has become not airspace but runway. Airports are two-ended funnels with arriving and departing aircraft focused at each end of the runway. There are limits to what ATC can see and do. It, behooves the pilot to be sensitive to these limits and fly his arrivals and departures to give maximum assistance to ATC while retaining his PIC responsibility to avoid conflicts while expediting movement. The pilot must retain situational awareness of other aircraft both as to position and movement.

All aircraft movements cannot maintain maximum efficiency. There will be delays and waits that are 'safety margins' built into the system. Plan for and expect that your arrival or departure will not be ideal. Do not try to change things that cannot be changed. If your situation becomes critical, declare an emergency sooner rather than later. You are far more likely to hear from the FAA for a failure to declare than you are for declaring.

As with other situations aircraft communications exchanges information through symbols, signs, words and behavior. Very often this communication is imperfect, resulting in erroneous information transfer. there are many causes for error but the most common is incorrect reference. The sender and receiver must be on the same channel to exchange message and feedback.

The student should make a point to visit all local ATC facilities such as a tower to learn to put faces with the voices as soon as 9/11 conditions improve.. Some pilots buy radios to listen to at home or in the car. This would be very good, if it were not for the fact that 80% of the General Aviation radio procedures leave much to be desired. Most pilots are not aware of the extent to which the ATC controller patiently compensates for pilot incompetence. Very often the delay in an ATC response is because the controller finds it necessary to sort out what was said and put it into understandable form. The radio identification of a pilot as a student pilot is essential since it allows the controller to be aware and anticipate problems caused by inexperience. On the other hand, the certified pilot is expected to be both competent on the radio and in the air.

Tower controllers, air and ground, are on constant listening watch for relatively long periods of time. Up to two hours. Their brains are turned on when the tower name is said. If you keep saying the tower name after the first contact it only causes confusion. They may write the aircraft call number and expected entry while they issue a clearance. This is a three dimensional chess game with different types of aircraft coming from different directions to different runways at differing speeds. They are good at what they do but the pilot must be knowledgeable as well. Tower controllers will usually clear you for the most economical arrival traffic conditions permitting. Tower communications should always be a concise expression of required information. By including your altitude you provide other aircraft with additional collusion avoidance information.

Professional pilots use the specifically appropriate procedure. It is difficult to accept that over 90% of all ATC radio communications is "canned". There is a standard format of what the pilot should say, a preferred place to say it, a standardized sequence, and a required ATC response. Most ATC communications are "canned" instructions delivered in a predicable highly formatted manner. Once understood these instructions are easy to prepare an answer or possible answers ahead of time. By including ATC requirements in your callup you can anticipate your instructions and get the golden ring as, "Approved as requested".

A 'clearance' is a kind of verbal contract between sender (ATC) and receiver (pilot). The feedback must be accurate so the 'hearback' can be assured of reception. Any error is a potential disaster.

The use of correct 'standard' communications procedure with ATC makes for cleaner more professional operations with less chance of misunderstanding. Think of what you expect the controller to say and incorporate it as a 'request' or advisory. ALL radar facility communications to you are repeated back again in your response in as complete a format as you are able. With experience some abbreviation is permissible. Safety in today's airspace requires mutual understanding and trust. More often than not the operation of the ATC system (not the controllers) is done for the convenience of the system rather than for the convenience of the pilots or their aircraft.

Listen to ATC communications to improve your situational awareness and minimize unnecessary communications. With experience you will be able to anticipate how you can help ATC such as by requesting a different runway or departure. Become sensitive to how busy the controller is and adjust your procedure accordingly. If the controller is obviously busy don't bother with making a that later. If the controller does not give you time to acknowledge...don't. If you are given a command EXECUTE and then use the radio. If you don't understand all or any part of what is said, have them "say again" or "say again all after...".

As a driver, you are familiar with defensive driving. You must fly defensively as well. Never assume that another aircraft is going to maneuver in a given direction or follow a particular ATC directive. On the other hand, you should follow ATC directions. If you don't understand the directions, say so. Don't taxi from your tie-down without knowing where you are going and how you are going to get there. If any doubt exists, get ATC assistance.

Flying in controlled airspace is a partnership, really a limited partnership, where responsibility, control, and liability is constantly shifting back and forth. Your position as a pilot in command depends on your understanding of how, when and where any shifting occurs. ATC is primarily concerned in aircraft separation. Regardless of the congestion, a controller cannot reduce separation unless a pilot declars an emergency. An emergency allows a pilot or controller to deviate from minimum separation rules or any other rules.

ATC will shift full separation responsibility to the pilot at every opportunity. A recent FAA interpretation says that a pilot is responsible for any clearance given by ATC whether or not it is heard, misunderstood, misinterpreted, readback, or mis-readback.

One of the ways that ATC can shift the entire load to the pilot is by prompting him to acknowledge having an aircraft in sight. ATC can 'point-out' traffic and prompt you to 'report traffic in sight'. Once you have reported the traffic as being in sight you are responsible for separation. However, you can shift responsibility back to ATC just by saying you have lost sight of the traffic.

Crowded Skies
By the mid 1970 the word was:
--The ATC system is subject to frequent flight delay
--Numerous disturbing aircraft to aircraft incidents.
--We are running out of sky room.
--Inability to maintain a high standard of safety.
--1978 a comprehensive plan for modernizing and improving ATC and airway facilities by 2000.
--Reduce radio transmissions.
--Electronic assistance
--Shared responsibility

The New ATC
ATC has for many years suffered through WWII leftovers and outmoded and obsolete traffic control equipment. The FAA is not involved in upgrades and replacements of the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS), Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B), Display System Replacement (DSR), Host and Oceanic Computer System Replacement (HOCSR), Digital airport Surveillance Radar (DASR), Operational and supportability Implementation System (OASIS) and air traffic Management System Development and Integration (ATMSDI)

Open architecture of both hardware and software is the plan to ensure that never again will total obsolescence occur in the ATC system. The ideal is to have 12-year procurement and 25-year life in an age where the life expectancy of a top level device and system is measured in months. The upgrades are planed around Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) computers and software. 1/7 of the total cost of STARS is in hardware of a billion-dollar investment. The problem is that by the time the hardware installation is completed the equipment is already out of date. By having a standard operating system it is hoped that a mix of old and new can be achieved in an ongoing manner. There will be no unique interfaces incorporated in any of the new upgrades.

One aspect of STARS is the passive final approach spacing tool (pFAST). This integrates surveillance data, flight plan data, aircraft performance characteristics and airway procedures into a central database. This will allow the ATC controller to use real time information to refine spacing and sequence. It is expected that this along with a similar program for enroute aircraft will increase both airway and runway capacity.

An additional radio program is designed around the VHF Digital Link (VDL) Mode 3 which will allow four voice and simultaneous data channels where only one voice channel exists at the present. The ADS-B system will give pilots the same situational awareness as enjoyed by ATC. This change has been traditionally fought by the FAA/ATC bureaucracy that is now overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of aircraft trying to occupy ever smaller space.

The System:
The FAA-ATC radio system has several types of facilities that require subtle differences in use of the radio. Radio procedures are different for tower controlled airports than for other ATC facilities. There are even selective differences between similar airports due to historic preferences or operational requirements. The better you understand why they do what they do the better you will understand the importance of correct radio procedures.

Tower Operations:
The tower controller is known as local control. He is responsible for the active runways, inbound and outbound traffic inside the airport airspace. Ground control is responsible for all airport movement area traffic. This includes cars, trucks, and airplanes on taxiways, some ramps, and inactive runways. Ground coordinates the crossing of active runways with the local controller. The flight data position does such things as getting IFR clearances, making the ATIS, and coordination with approach control. At some airports in very light traffic conditions one person may work all positions.

A supervisor is in watchful command of the total shift operation. He has great flexibility in rotating the positions to maintain efficiency. Each controller goes though initial training in Oklahoma City. He then works in the facility at each position until certified in that position. The local controller (tower) is playing three-dimensional chess with aircraft of different categories and types. These planes are arriving from different direction, at different speeds, with varying levels of pilot competence. The ATC mandate is to provide safe, orderly, and expeditious movement of traffic. Pilot competence is vital if ATC is to do its job well. The first clue the controller has of pilot competence is the way the radio is used by the pilot. The best way to learn how the system works is to make a practice of visiting towers at every opportunity. When you know what the controllers are doing and why, you can use both the radio and the flight path to make things work better.

Class C and B Airspace
Over 100 U. S cities have a magenta area designated as Class C airspace. Radar service is available but not mandatory. You must establish contact and maintain a listening watch but you can refuse the service. (not smart). Major cities have Class B airspace. Students are not allowed into Class B airspace without an instructors endorsement as to training and proficiency.

An flight entering a radar service area requires that the pilot plan for the communications involved. Get any required ATIS before making contact with approach. Know exactly where you are going to be before making contact. You can be violated by the FAA for an accidental entry into both Class C and B airspace. The pilot is responsible for the 'see and avoid' mandate and should not place undue reliance on radar advisories.

A radar target not in ATC contact has altitude that is only 'indicated' not confirmed. Traffic advisories are a part of radar services which includes weather advisories, terrain, obstruction, and low altitude alerts. Should you ask for flight following instead of traffic advisories you may not get the rest of the services. It is better and wiser to get all the help you can. Advisory service is available to VFR pilots only when the workload permits.

Terminal Area (Norcal Approach)
Basic separation within 40 miles of single antenna is three miles in airport/terminal airspace. IFR/VFR separation is 1.5-miles in Class B. Beyond 40 miles of antenna it is 5 miles.

The pilot should know that under VFR conditions once you have told ATC that you have visual contact with traffic you may not receive any further radar advisories on that traffic. They may not advise you again of altitude or direction. It is up to you to evade any possible wake turbulence. ATC will let you fly right under a DC-10' wake turbulence and not issue a warning. You must be aware of this lack of protection and be assertive enough to make a 360 or whatever it takes for avoidance. It may be best not to 'see' traffic

Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC) (Norcal Approach)
5 miles is the minimum for IFR. Several antenna returns are displayed as one. Center antennae are connected by land line radio systems and parabolic relays spaced about 17 miles apart. ZOA, which is Oakland center, covers an area from the middle of Nevada down to Bakersfield, along the coastal waters of California up to the Oregon Border.

Center operations are separated from TRACON services by distance and altitude. Center services will not be made available unless you have sufficient altitude to give both a radar return and radio communications.

Radar Identification
--Contact and identity established by 1-mile or runway is 'contact".
--Radar return at specific reported position is 'contact'.
--Radar vectors may be used to identify and establish 'contact'
--Transponder codes are used. Mode C gives altitude that must be validated by each successive controller.
Data Block
The computerized radar is capable of showing the aircraft route, a conflict with another aircraft, range and bearing from any fix, and a minimum safe altitude warning.

FSS Procedures
The FSS may have up to 12 radios operating from one switch panel. It is necessary for the pilot to know the differing dedicated frequencies and how to obtain them. The emergency 121.5 and FSS universal 122.2 frequencies do not usually appear on charts or other sources. You, the pilot, are expected to know that these are common to Flight Service Stations. If a frequency for an FSS is followed by an R, it means that the FSS can only receive; if a frequency is followed by a T, it means that the FSS can only transmit on that frequency. Since some of the frequencies may be far beyond the line of sight requirement it is important to be careful in making your frequency selection.

Failure to mention the frequency you are listening on may require an additional callup. You always save time in communications by doing it right the first time. Your initial communication should include the words, "………listening on (Frequency)". You can improve your FSS communications comfort level by making PIREPS when making local flights. The FSS can offer complete weather service, frequencies, airport information, navigational assistance and emergency assistance. Except for the callup, other communications can be conversational.

Some FSS operations are now only part-time. Do not try to stretch radio range. Use nearest available frequency. Know how to select the appropriate FSS frequency, how to use it correctly and when to use it. Some FSS operation is only part-time. The FAA is in the process of making most FSS operations via remote facilities. Oakland and Rancho will service most of Northern California as the smaller stations are phased out. Reference the AIM Chapter 4-92, 5-81, 70-50/58.

Flight Watch
Sitting very near the FSS radio specialists is the Flight Watch radio specialist. His duties extend from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. local times. This is a nationwide weather information service operating on 122.0. The first Flight Watch station was activated at Oakland about twenty years ago. Since this is the only frequency he may have up to eight remote locations. Oakland has one at Reno, Red Bluff, Oakland, Big Sur, Sacramento, Fresno, and Ferndale near Eureka. There are three HiWAS frequencies for the airlines. Any aircraft over 5000' should be able to contact Flight Watch.

Pilot Arrival Operations
If you are a passive pilot who lets ATC make all your arrival decisions you can just follow orders. This works best if you are quite familiar with the airport and its procedures. At unfamiliar fields you need to work out an arrival with ATC. The easiest, but less efficient way is to request to overfly the field and let them work you into the pattern. Passive radio operations usually require multiple transmissions involving questions and answers. One incompetent pilot with poor radios can tie up the system.

Every light aircraft pilot should be wearing a headset. He should know that microphones are noise canceling. The closer to the mouth the mike the less extraneous noise will intrude. As a pilot you will speak at a measured pace without punctuation. Make no pauses for periods, commas, or thinking. As a student you always let ATC know that you are a student as part of your full aircraft identification so that they can keep an eye on you. ATC communications are practically the same in similar situations. With experience you can recognize the 'canned' aspects and include them in your call-up. The more assertive pilot will take charge of the situation as suggested below. Do all your planning and thinking before you key the mike.

Several planning steps should precede the call-up to a tower-controlled airport. You should get the ATIS well away from the airport. This means you will know the direction of the preferred runway. You will know if a substantial crosswind is involved. You will listen and orient other traffic with reference to your arrival. You will plan your arrival so as to make your initial call-up at a selected reference point and altitude. Reference points are best when they are specific identifiable spot locations. Altitudes below 3000 feet AGL are safest when not at even thousands or five hundreds.

As a student you would be well advised to write your expected arrival out without any shortcuts. Have it so you can read it off. After doing this a few times the writing will no longer be required. Where multiple runways exist some variations are to be expected. With the planning taken care of, you take a deep breath and practice getting everything out in one smoothly paced flow. While you are practicing you will be listening to the radio for ATC references to both inbound and outbound traffic.

Ready begin:
"Podunk tower (Cessna 1234X)(reference point)(at altitude)(with ATIS)(arrival path)(will report) (looking for traffic)". You win if the tower says, "34X approved as requested."

Properly presented and arranged radio work by the pilot helps the controller sort out the factors of aircraft type, position altitude, intentions, and expected report. Making it easy for ATC lets them make it easy for you.

Pilot Departure Operations:
The tower airport departure is a multi step procedure. First you get the ATIS and talk to clearance delivery if radar is involved. This will involve a transponder squawk, departure route, approach frequency and a read back. Plan your call-up to ground just as you would to tower. If you are uncertain or become uncertain don't hesitate to advise ATC and get assistance as you taxi. ATC can see the airport much better from the tower than you can from the ground. On completion of your runup you will contact the local control (tower).

You have looked in the direction you expect to depart before getting into the aircraft. On getting the ATIS you have planned your runway request for the most efficient departure. If you do not get the most efficient departure runway then you must plan your flight departure to establish the easiest interception of the planned route. All too few pilots request the 270 departure that crosses them over the airport on a course that corresponds to the line drew on the sectional. Why begin a flight two miles off course if you don't need to? To help ATC you have named a specific destination rather than a general direction or departure. This provides safer traffic avoidance. A good departure call would be:
"Podunk tower Cessna 1234X student pilot ready (runway number)(right 270 on course Xandu) (have any reported traffic)"

ATC is required to 'point out' any known traffic that may affect your arrival or departure. You should acknowledge that you are looking and when seen you are expected to report 'traffic in sight'. Any time you report having reported traffic you make a friend of ATC since you then assume traffic avoidance responsibility. If after thirty seconds or so you have no visual contact be sure to advise ATC.

Travis Airspace (Travis Approach)
Travis Approach facility has given two seminars in the last two weeks about the operations, hazards, limitations, use and misuse of its services as offered to General Aviation.

Using a San Francisco Sectional, the Travis radar area is uncharted on the but extends along a line extending northward from four nautical miles west of SABLO intersection through the middle of Lake Berryessa. This is a line that parallels V-195 but four nautical miles to the west. It starts near where V-195 intersects the northern line of the S.F. Class B and extends to the compass rose of the Williams VOR. The northern top extends below the Williams VOR compass rose at right angle across I-5 to intersect a line extending from COUPS intersection on V-6 south of Sacramento Executive northwestward though Davis and Woodland From COUPS the area zigs and zags down to OAKEY intersection on V-108 and covers an area parallel to but four south of V-108 over to reach V-195. A dip in the line extends in a two mile arc below CCR.

The area southeast of Travis radar area is controlled by Stockton Approach. To the south lies Bay Approach, To the west and north Oakland Center reigns. The eastern side borders on Sacramento Approach. Travis radar where not affected by terrain interference controls from the surface to 10,000.

Inside of the radar area is the Alert Area that is charted as Alert Area A-682. Travis has several different patterns for its dual runways. There are IFR, VFR, Radar, and Overhead approaches. Altitudes vary from 2000 to 4000 and very often extend beyond the published A-682 boundaries. This is a radar vector approach that goes directly over Rio Vista at 2000 at all hours. There are MARSA departures in which KC-10s depart at one minute intervals to fly a formation flight at staggered 1000 foot altitudes. Such a departure at speeds up to 250 knots does not give civil aircraft much safe space to operate. Avoid a flight path that conflicts with a MARSA formation.

Military aircraft use a climb to avoid collision. Since any flight below a heavy military aircraft will have wake turbulence below of sufficient power to disintegrate a G.A. plane, it would seem that a turn to avoid under-flying would be the advisable avoidance procedure.

Travis has two basic frequencies, 126.6 to the North and 119.9 to the South. During low traffic periods only 119.9 will be used for the whole area. Military flights that overfly Rio Vista will make their presence known on 122.8. I would suggest users of Rio Vista to use alternative arrival procedures that preclude the use of 2000'.

Bay Area Weather
Climatic diversity is shown by the variety of microclimates that vary in the sunshine and fog of their existence. Unusual microclimates can overwhelm the entire area and occasionally bring extremes of hot and cold. During the late summer, however, there is a regular cycle of weather changes that perform like clockwork. A four day cycle of a warm Bay Area to a very warmer hot Central Valley weather is followed by four days of ever more intrusive fog layers and winds.

These microclimate changes occur just about a regularly as clockwork during July and August. The other months of spring and fall vary a bit more but experienced weather watchers soon learn to 'read' the weather. All of the communities of the Bay Area have variable weather patterns one from another. This is because of the geographical configuration of the mountains and water areas. The Golden Gate along with the Carquinez Strait form the only water level wind passage into the California Central Valley. Fortunately there are several other passes through the mountains that reduce the major flow through the Gate. Were it not for these passes the Gate winds would be more constant and violent. The variations of these winds along with the placement of inland heat draws in the avection fog from the ocean. As we move eastward, every successive valley decreases in its ability to retain its morning fog cover.

The Golden Gate 'streamline' will pile its fog brought in from the Pacific and build it up against the Berkeley hills where it spreads out toward the South Bay and creeps around through the Carquinez Strait. The four-day cycle previously mentioned does its first day with the fog to reach and perhaps cover San Francisco. The second day does the Berkeley hills, the third day reaches to and perhaps beyond Mt. Diablo. The fourth day gets over into the Central Valley and begins a cooling trend. The next four days consists of a gradual retreat back to the ocean.

Any pilot who flies every day can, by getting above the fog level for eight consecutive days see this magic as it occurs. Some valleys are more persistent fog pockets if they are surrounded by ridges such as the area around Moraga where I live.

A Years Worth of Weather
---Weather is what happens here and now, climate is the average weather over years
---The factors that cause fog to occur and disappear is a massive air conditioner system
---Salt spray makes a fog able to create a 50-degree temperature spread over 50 miles long and wide.
---It’s really the geography as a collection of openings, valleys and water that makes it all possible
---The result is a multiplicity of microclimates taking turns being different
Atmospheric constants
---Air pressure in the Bay Area depends more on altitude and temperature that other factors
---Warm air rises giving low pressure and cold air descends giving high pressure
---Rising dry air cools 5.5 degrees F per 1000 foot rise
---Descending dry air warms the same way on descent
---Warm air can hold more moisture
---When warm air cools to its dew point the moisture content becomes visible.
---Air, water and rockets moving freely in the northern hemisphere curve right
---This curve, the coriolis effect, is a major influence on Bay Area weather
---See Lapse Rates below:
---Weather ridges are good, weather troughs are bad weather
---Invisible water in air is called humidity as a percentage of the air’s ability to hold moisture
---When the water vapor becomes visible the air has reached its dew point or 100 percent humidity
---Moisture frozen at the dew point becomes frost which is more common inland than coastal
---Moisture that becomes droplets is called rain which when frozen in a cloud forms snow
---The frozen drops in a cloud that fall, melt and freeze again form sleet
---Hail occurs when falling raindrops are carried aloft and frozen occasionally several times
---If electrical charge differences between clouds or the ground overcome the space you get lightning
---The explosion and collapse of heated air due to lighting causes thunder
---Avection fog is a fog deck that blows in from the ocean as a cake frosting layer
---Radiation fog is a very low form of stratus formed by moisture available on the earth’s surface
---Stratus and nimbostratus with rain exist to 6000 feet
---With rising columns of air we have stratocumulus flat bottomed and billowing tops at 3 to 5000
---Altocumulus are scattered puff balls from 6 to 25,000
---Cumulus congestus and cumulonimbus exist from surface to 50,000 feet
---Cirrocumulus are feathery puff balls from 20 to 40,000 feet
---Cirrus the feathery wisps are from 20 to 40,000 consisting mostly of ice
---Cirrostratus are true clouds from 20 to 40,000
---Weather moves as a front with the difference between hot and cold being relative to the one ahead
Spring is Here
---The spring winds of California are westerlies from the north
---The Central Valley low pressure causes an onshore pressure gradient flow from ocean to shore
---March and April is time of variable weather with gusty storms interspersed with warmth and haze
---The Pacific High comes from the Arctic with winds seeking an opening into the Central Valley low
---Additionally, global effects of the jet stream(s) making S curves across the U.S. have influence
---The Canadian polar jet stream affects the Pacific high by its series of ridges and troughs
---Ocean currents and winds curve right to follow the coast where colder bottom water rises
---The mix of cold water spray, salt particles and winds cause the offshore fog banks for many miles
---With Valley heat the winds increase and move the fog into every entry way toward the Valley
---Tidal changes along the Coast and in the Bay affects water temperature and fog creation/dispersal
---It is the temperature and moisture content of the ambient air that makes fog
---The rising sun determines ‘burn-off ‘ effects of coastal hills and valleys lifting and dispersing fog
---March, April and June sees ever greater wind and fog intrusion inland by distance and depth

Comes Summer
---Begins the summer cycle of wind/fog intrusion and dispersal somewhat predictable
---The winds are horizontal and bring the advection fog ashore as a fog layer
---The advection fog is capped by an inversion layer of warm air from 200 to 2000 high
---Once the fog moves past cool/cold water over warmer land it rises to form a lower deck of fog
---The weekly cycle of fog, clearing, fog, clearing varies depending on Valley heat and cooling
---These cycles are augmented by or detracted by the activities of the Canadian polar jet stream
---The variables of the above factors make predictability more difficult but possible
---Extended periods of fog or clarity are determined by the jet stream pattern and location
---Sometimes the fog dispersal occurs from the top down leaving valley fog pockets.
---Top down dispersal often accompanies days of localized fog coverage over specific areas
---Near end of summer coastal fog makes a three day trip from Santa Barbara to the Bay Area
---The fog cycles of August and September last longer especially if helped by El Nino
---Below the fog visibility extends for miles at levels from 200 to 800 feet topped by thick fog
---The only Bay airports above the fog will be Bonnydoon, near Santa Cruz and Angwin near Napa
---The coldest part of this season is when a high fog exists
---End of summer brings a mix of wet and dry fog depending on origin over water or land
---The wet fog of late summer adds up to ten inches of measurable precipitation to Bay Area hills
---The only summer Bay Area rain comes from the South via Mexico
---When jet stream caused winds cause winds blowing over land toward the ocean, fires are likely
---A stalled jet stream can cause heat, fog , rare fish, sharks but no sardines
---The climate of the Bay Area is either Maritime or Continental depending on ocean/gap location
---Besides the Golden Gate the many little gaps allow winds and weather inland
---The gaps, mountains and ridges divide the Bay Area into hundreds of microclimatic areas
---Over time a pilot will learn to read his local microclimate and relate it to his flying plans
---Now comes the real summer which lags the summer solstice by three months
---September and October are warmest months of the year the Valley cools off and sun rays slant
---The Pacific High moves south, the valley is not as hot, on shore winds weaken and fog is no more
---Now winds die, inversions prevail, smog rules and attacks the eastern shores and south valleys
---Mirages appear while skies reflect the influence of weather from the gulf of Mexico by storms
---Weather becomes unpredictable and the sun lets the nights cool sooner for football
---The unstable air has cumulus clouds that cluster with flat bottoms and billowing tops of rising air
---Fair weather cumulus cloud foretells clearing weather conditions
---Stratus clouds are either uniformly cooled over a flat surface or by adiabatic cooling up a mountain
---Cirrus clouds tell of a layer of different origin and more moisture than air below and a storm near
---Warm and cold masses of air far across the Pacific begin their left turning dance to birth a storm
---The jet stream moves the dancing air masses toward the Western states and Canada as a front
---A warm front rises over the preceding front forming cloud types according to height and
---The initial high cirrus clouds are followed by the stratus clouds with moisture of long duration
---Now comes the cold front with cumulonimbus rain storms of high intensity but quick passage
---The Bay Area cold front catches and turns the warm front by occluding it into the worst of both
---A change of wind direction is the best warning Californians have of a storm’s arrival
---The storms pinwheel across both ends of the Bay with the wind direction telling its location
---Northerly winds and rain are cold while southerly winds and rain are warm
---While Summer fogs all come from the west, winter rains come from all directions
---The winter rains of the Bay Area are variable and unpredictable with wide differences by location
---Tule fog (Tule rhymes with truly) rises from the wet ground and the air is cool/cold and still
---Warmest areas are those close to water while coldest areas are furthest from water.
---As the nights get longer with low areas wet the temperature drops and radiation fog forms
---Radiation {tule} fog can become so thick as to remain in an area all day and even flow out to sea
---Radiation fog may cover the inland bay and cities while the coastline is sunny
---Winter fogs disappear from the top down but winds eventually banish them
---The global air masses will cause the local conditions to break their regularity of patterns
---When global air masses control the Bay Area may have freezing cold or tornadoes of lesser type
---The central valley dust devil is an aviation hazard caused by a rising super-heated bare spots
Then it starts all over again at the top, always similar but seldom the same

Concord, Napa and some other airports in the Bay Area now have BRIGHT radar displays in the tower.  The antenna for this radar display is on top of Mt Tamalpais.  This is over 25 miles from some of the towers so there are restrictions on the amount of radar service available.

Transponder codes may not be available.  Separation is not given because of the signal spread not being fine enough to get separation.  Concord tower can pick up aircraft who identify their position accurately and announce the aircraft as "In sight" when appropriate.
There are some minor changes in required Class D communications.

300# Gorilla Flying IFR
---Knowledge of military flights is something you need to know about
---UHF is military, VHF is civil and one doesn’t always hear the other
---ATC talking to military will be like your hearing one side of a phone conversation
---Situation is similar when ATC controller is using both local and ground radio
---To find military traffic ask ATC
---UHF emergency is 243.) MHz and is called GUARD
---VHF emergency is 121.5 KHs and is called GUARD
---9/11 orders require all aircraft monitor GUARD
---If you violate a TFR you will be commanded to, "Come up on GUARD" can kill you
---An IFR flight of USAF aircraft is a MARASA in which only one of several will have an active x-ponder
---Finding one military aircraft is not enough during MARSA operations
---Recommendation is always use your transponder with Mode C
---ATC will give military operations preference over civil operations
---Military operations at night use night vision devices with minimum night aircraft lights or none at all
---Night vision can cause an aircraft to fly into IMC without knowing it.
---The TACAN part of the VOR system gives the military one button DME and Nav capability

Getting There on the Ground
Only one in ten of my flying students over forty years have been able to correctly point to magnetic north on our first meeting on the airport. This is my introductory ploy. Then I try to have them point to where they think major cities or geographic features might be. Only then will we begin locating runway directions as they relate to nearby locations known and used by ATC and pilots as reference arrival and departure points for the airport. This beginning orientation will be the foundation of a flying career. The knowledge and skills learned first here will become the basis for all future approaches and landings.

Every towered single runway airport has two straight in arrivals, four downwind arrivals and four base arrivals. The student needs to understand that there is no need to ‘request’ a downwind arrival to the active runway but the turn downwind must be reported and the landing clearance acknowledged.  All other arrivals are non-standard meaning that they must be requested, must be reported and flown appropriately.

There are several instruments and bits of knowledge that make any airport arrival more routine. A pilot must be sure to set the heading indicator to the compass before leaving the initial reporting point. Next the heading-bug should be set to the runway heading. The runway numbers are always the first two digits of the nearest ten-degrees of the compass direction. Additionally, all directions of the runway pattern and the runway have the same ‘sum of the digits’. This is simply shown by drawing a runway with the flight pattern for downwind, base, upwind and crosswind. Write in the heading numbers for each direction. Add the three heading digits and write the sum. All the four directions will have the same sum. This makes turning 90 degrees a quick and easy number to look for.

Making an inbound 45-degree arrival to a selected runway begins with setting the heading bug to the runway heading. When on the 45 for left traffic the heading bug will be on the left rear heading indicator 45-degree marker. For right traffic it will be on the right rear heading indicator 45-degree marker. All of these can be done as a dry run on the ground to see how the numbers make most any arrival and pattern turns. Any time there is a crosswind to the pattern direction flown a wind correction angle must be flown to fly the proper ground track.

On the ground draw a runway along with all the possible arrivals in left traffic which is standard. Make the runway about 10’ long with the patterns extending from both ends and one side for left traffic. Write on each line the magnetic heading required. Extend the base legs to show where the base report would be given. Do the same by drawing the downwind and straight-in arrivals. Some distance away place markers with names as would be used in making initial call-up to the tower for the ATIS runway in use.

With these preliminaries taken care of we are ready to walk and talk the airport arrival. The initial call-up is a combination of talking to ATC and other on-frequency aircraft. The standard call-up consists of an ordered sequence of information. Omitted are several unnecessary words such as "This is…"; "Over…a place; "feet as in an altitude, and miles as in a distance. All aircraft radio communications are stated without pauses for punctuation. Slightly different words are used when talking to different ATC facilities.

No preliminaries are required when calling an airport tower or ground control. The first call to a radar facility requires only that you state the name of the facility, your aircraft identification and the word, ‘over’. The first call to a Flight Service Station requires giving the frequency you are listening on. Calling Flight Watch on 122.0 that you give the name of the closest VOR so the specialist knows which of his several transmitters to use.
Who you are talking to without pauses into…
Who you are with aircraft type, full call-sign without pauses into
Where you are and altitude without pauses into intentions or request
You read-back all information and instructions given by ATC

"Concord ground Cessna 21999 Sterling requesting the left via (taxiway) alpha with Alpha"(ATIS)

"Concord tower Cessna 21999 ready on the left right turn on course (destination)

(Saying the direction of the turn as the course is especially helpful to airborne pilots on the frequency since it tells them where to look as well as where to avoid.

Handing Over Controls
#1 Pilot
"You have the flight controls."
#2 Pilot
"I have the flight controls"
#1 Pilot
"You now have the flight controls."

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Continued on 5.315 Basic Radio Procedure