Okay, that’s not quite fair: it was, effectively, almost three times around the patch.
I went out for some pattern work today. The winds were wonderfully squirrelly: 090° variable 280° at 8 gusting 15, sums it up over the course of the hour and a half. For most of the first, oh, forty minutes or so, it was mostly from the right, ranging from a 20° crosswind to a 90° crosswind, typically about 10 knots gusting 15, with an occasional gust up around 300′ or so seeming to hit 25 knots and a not-quite-predictable big sink on about half-mile final. A good workout: feet stayed busy, both hands stayed busy.
On trip around the pattern was particularly memorable. As I started my takeoff roll on runway 13, I heard tower calling a twin (type and tail number elided, to protect the guilty); tower got no response. During my turn from crosswind to downwind, I heard the twin pilot call, inbound on the GPS31; tower replied with instructions to “circle runway 13, circle north of the field.” The twin’s pilot read that back, then asking if he should fly right traffic, to which tower replied, “Circle north of the airport.” The twin’s pilot acknowledged.
The approach plate has a note, “Circling not authorized southwest of Rwy 13-31.”
Tower then called the twin, “Twin Barnburner 6IO, I show you at 200′; climb to pattern altitude.” The twin’s pilot did not reply. Having completed that previous circuit’s landing, I was taxiing back to runway 13 for another, and heard the tower, “Twin Barnburner 6IO, cancel circling restriction”; the twin pilot acknowledged. As I entered the runway 13 runup area, I saw the twin on right downwind, south (i.e., southwest) of the field, contrary to instructions and to the approach plate’s restriction.
And this was just the beginning!
Beginning my downwind, tower gave a wind check, unprompted, calling the winds 290° at 12, and then instructing me to turn base at the auto bridge (the Dumbarton auto bridge, a good mile and a half beyond where I would usually turn base). About midfield, I noticed the twin completing his approach and beginning his rollout; tower asked the twin pilot if he had a tailwind on final, to which the pilot replied that “it felt like it, yes.” I figured we were about to turn the airport around, and the tower’s request for me to continue my downwind to the bridge made more sense.
“Mooney 2FR, continue to the auto bridge, fly to KGO, enter a 45 for right downwind runway 31. I acknowledged and complied.
The fun wasn’t over.
I joined the right downwind, from the 45, lowered the landing gear abeam midfield, reduced power and began descending abeam the numbers, and turned right base at the appropriate time. Tower called, “Mooney 2FR, make a left 270, enter left downwind runway 13, winds now 150° at 11.” I began a climbing left turn, acknowledged, and hoped they wouldn’t have to turn the airport around a third time before I landed!
As I rolled out and left runway 13, after an uneventful landing (albeit with still-squirrelly winds!), tower instructed me to taxi back runway 13 for left closed traffic, adding, “Thanks for your patience.” I acknowledged, told them it was no problem, and complimented the controller on the crew’s handling of having turned the airport around twice in such a short time.
The rest of my proficiency work, though certainly worthwhile—nine more landings (three of them simulated dead-stick, with an exciting cross-wind soft field takeoff and a self-initiated go-around thrown in)—was far less interesting and more mundane.