I learned to fly at the Palo Alto airport in a trusted Cessna 152 and we keep our Cirrus at the San Carlos airport. KSQL is located 8 miles south-east from San Francisco, right under 1,500 feet class B shelf and Palo Alto is 7 more miles out. I teach at both airports.
San Francisco Bay Area is an ideal place to learn to fly. Weather is nice most of the time, airspace is relatively complex, but with the multitude of airports around, we are never short of destinations. Sierra Mountains are only one flight hour away and in three hours we can reach Mexico.
These tabs show the four most spectular airports where I landed so far. Each of them is a treat and if you ever have an opportunity, make sure you don't miss it.
If there is one airport that you could call crazy, it would be Courchevel. Perched at 6,000 feet in the Alpes, the one-way in one-way out runway is only 1,700 feet long, but is has 20% upslope. I wrote a blog entry about it, make sure to read it.
Catalina airport is known for its incredible approach. The airport sits at 1,600 feet mountain, which abruptly drops to the sea right before the threshold. A bump in the middle of runway makes it so that you don't see the other end, making it for an exciting landing.
Telluride is at 9,000 feet, located at a large mesa above the town. You want to watch for density altitude, but the 9,000 feet long runway gives plenty of room. I once took off from an intersection, jumping a long line of private jets waiting for release. With a turbo airplane, 5,000 feet was plenty.
Approximately 2.5 million years ago, the Ngorongo crater was a huge volcanic mountain, rivaling Kilimanjaro in size. This changed when the top of the mountain collapsed, creating the biggest volcanic caldera in the world and a park teaming with wildlife.
The airstrip is located at the rim of the crater, at 7,000' and after the takeoff there is no need to climb, the ground just disappears under you.
The map below shows all airports where I landed, as Pilot in Command, not as passenger on board a commercial aircraft. Small lump on the right shows airports in Europe, where I flew in 2016 to obtain EASA license. In 2017, 2019, and again in 2023 we did extraordinary trips in Africa, which show on the bottom right and in 2018, we flew to Colombia and Ecaudor in South America.
Please visit my blog to read about those adventures and contact me with any questions about flying internationally.