New Feature – My Airports

There is a new tab at the top of the page – Airports which will show you a spiffy map of the places I’ve landed. For almost 300 hours of flying, I don’t seem to have been to very many fields.

I’ve made some changes to the site and the airports page has now become part of the Trip Reports tab. I’ve also updated the map to show which airports have associated reports to go with them, so it seemed logical to move it.

IFR Currency Part I

My instrument currency expires at the end of November so last night I met up with Serge, who I have been Safety Pilot for a few times, to go fly the south pattern with the idiot glasses on.

We got off to an odd start by having to wait a long time for our clearance to Brown Field. The controller only has to get a sqawk code from the system and usually issues the clearance without hesitation, but tonight we had to wait. And wait. So we taxied out to the runup area and picked up the clearance there.

It was a truly beautiful night, calm winds, clear skies just a shame that I wasn’t going to be seeing any of it! We took off, switched to SoCal Approach and Serge took the plane while I fumbled to get the glasses on under my head torch. Usual deal for the south pattern: climb to 4000, eventually get a turn to the east, intercept the PGY radial, cleared for the approach. Last time we forgot to advise that we wanted to do KSEE and KMYF next so I made sure we declared our intentions this time. I did a decent job on the approach, at the missed approach we made a climbing left turn to the north east and back to SoCal for the next leg.

SoCal told us to climb to 5000 feet, remain VFR. I had a lot of problems keeping the plane climbing, just could not get it trimmed and it was a semi-wild ride, well it felt that way under the hood. I didn’t hear any screaming from Serge. Serge was in charge of radios and set us up for the localizer into Gilispie Field. Eventually we got our turn towards the approach and our clearance. I pretty much nailed the localiser spot on. The missed approach point is timed and I always overshoot, did it again this time but not by a whole lot, I would have made it down had I been landing.

Another climbing turn and we’re off to Montgomery Field. Its not far between the two airports so its always quite a rush to get set up, it is very helpful to have a co-pilot punch in the frequencies. After my prowess on the LOC I totally messed up the ILS. I had decent glideslope control but I spent way too much time chasing the needle and over-compensating. I removed the glasses at 600 feet and made a very smooth touchdown almost exactly on the instrument landing area. I was impressed even if Serge wasn’t.

A pretty decent flight with a few moments where I wasn’t on top of the plane. I hadn’t flown since September so I knew I would be rusty. Most importantly Serge enjoyed himself and is happy to do it again in a few weeks when I will need to do a couple more approaches and some holds.

Santa Monica for Lunch

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.

More Safety Pilot Duties

Did the ‘south pattern’ last night as safety pilot for Serge: VOR approach into Brown Field, localiser into Gilliespie Field and then the ILS back into Montgomery Field. Serge is a very good pilot and to prove the point he did the whole thing ‘partial panel’; with the attitude indicator and heading indicator covered over to simulate a vacuum failure. Its my turn to be in the left seat in September, need to make sure my currency doesn’t expire again but I’ll admit I’m nervous about him judging my proficiency, or rather lack of it.

Going to try and take a trip to Oceano airport sometime soon, looks like a delightful field near Pismo Beach. Biggest hazards are marine fog lingering over the airport, and the length of the runway. At only 2325ft, that’s short-field for me.