Monday was Labor Day so Teri I and took advantage of a sunny day off work to fly to Santa Monica, a destination Teri had been wanting to fly into for some time. The plan was to fly there IFR and to come back VFR over northern Los Angeles and down French Valley back to San Diego.
The previous renters had not fuelled the plane when they left it and thanks to a rush of orders it must have been close to 20 minutes before we got the tanks topped off. I requested a tower-en-route clearance and got the regular route: Oceanside, Seal Beach, Santa Monica, ELMOO intersection. It involves quite a little bit of messing about after Seal Beach but my expectation was that we would be vectored for the approach before that happened. My expectations were correct, we got vectored around traffic over Santa Ana airport and then just before LAX we were given vectors for the approach. I chose the VOR approach and were number one, cleared to land about 3 miles out. The landing was uneventful and we taxied to the short-term parking.
The restaurants on the field were closed but the Spitfire Grill across the street was open so we took the short walk and enjoyed a $100 hamburger and sandwich. It was a beautiful day and before leaving we took some time to sit on the airport’s viewing terrace to look over our route home, and to watch what seemed to be a fleet of Cirrus SR-22’s all leaving at once.
We asked for a right downwind departure to stay north of I-10 which would be our visual reference for staying outside the Class-B airspace. Straightout to the shoreline and made our turn, flew 2000 feet over Los Angeles, over downtown and on to El Monte before climbing to get above Ontario’s Class C airspace. The air was pretty choppy from the LA smog but once above it things were pretty smooth until we got to the hills near Lake Elsinore.
As we flew down I-15 to Escondido we could see a huge amount of smoke coming from the San Diego area and the Ramona ATIS was advising aircraft to stay clear of an area 10 miles SW of the airport. Rather than go through the smoke and get in the way of the firefighters, we turned westwards abeam Carslbad and flew to the coast. Descending below the Class B before Mount Soledad, we called up Montgomery tower and were cleared for 28L, initially number 1 but ended up number 2 by the time we were downwind. Landing was uneventful, if a little floaty, and we taxied back to parking.
A very nice day out, the IFR flying went very well, kept my altitudes and VORs pretty much on track. I hadn’t prepared properly for the visual route finding over LA so that was a little unnerving, and I would have liked to have controlled the landings a little better. 2.6 hours in the book, and a well-deserved beer followed.