Avalon: Airport in the Sky


Fly 'n Things

“A Mediterranean resort off the coast of Southern California”
Now that my Instrument training was finally over, I was ready for new adventures. The past few months had been hectic and nerve racking. Instrument training is very demanding and I am glad that, it is finally behind me. Browsing through “Fun places to fly in California” I thought I may as well start with the first airport listed there, which happened to be Avalon. I have wanted to fly to Avalon for sometime now. I had been under the misapprehension that I needed some kind of checkout prior to attempting to fly there. As it turned out, the flying club I rented from had no such restriction.

So it happened, that my friend Michelle and I set out from SBP airport one fine September morning. Low clouds and fog had laced the morning skies over SBP rendering the airspace IFR…

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Repost: 5/5


Memories of Check-rides, Derby Days and Joy of Flying!

May is always memorable. I got my PPL . Three years later I got my Instrument rating.

“I hope we will be done by 3:00 pm, ” said Wanda, “I wan’t to watch the Kentucky Derby”

“I hope so too,” thought I. “With positive results.” For it was the day of my PPL check-ride and I wanted to get home without a pink slip!

It was also Derby Day.

And getting home to watch the race would be good too… I did make it home in time to catch the race that day.

That was 19 years ago, today!

May Day, May Day, May Day


Five Years Ago: Partial Engine Failure

Thump!

“Did we hit a bird, ” I started to say…

There was no response from the cockpit. Barely a few seconds later I heard,

“Indy Center, Nxxxxx”.
“Go ahead, Nxxxxx, ” Indy Center responded.
“I want to declare an emergency. I am unable to maintain altitude, I want to land Parkersburg”
“What’s the problem,” queried Indy Center.
“I don’t have manifold pressure….I am losing engine power,” responded the pilot.

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Continue to read here: May Day, May Day, May Day

See Also:
FOG Descends Over Dayton
National Museum of the US Air Force

Hawthorne


“Hawthorne Flight Service
Press 1 to Speak to a Preflight Briefer”

This almost makes me feel nostalgic. Through out my flight training and initial years after getting my private pilot license (PPL), I dialed 1-800-WX-BRIEF and heard this same recording many a time. Sometimes it was just a planning period trying to gauge what the weather was doing or to get the latest forecast. Sometimes it was the moment before a flight when I chose to speak to the briefer to get the weather briefing or file a flight plan.

A Flight Service Station is an air traffic facility which provides pilot briefings, flight plan processing, en-route flight advisories, search and rescue services, and assistance to lost aircraft and aircraft in emergency situations. It also can relay ATC clearances, process Notices to Airmen, broadcast aviation weather and aeronautical information, and advise Customs and Immigration of trans-border flights. In the 1960’s, there were 297 flight service stations in operation.  The first automated flight service station (AFSS) was launched in Denver in 1982 and by the end of 1995, existing flight service stations were consolidated into 61 AFSSs. Today’s FSS is more virtual than physical. With apps and flight planning software, much of the charm of using the services of an FSS is fast receding. Pilots these days prefer the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) apps as opposed to call-in or walk-in flight briefer.

Hawthorne Flight Service Center is based at Hawthorne Airport, a stone’s throw away from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Operational since 1985, the station serves the area extending from Orange County to Paso Robles, CA.

It was summer of 2003, when my flying buddy Grace and I set off to visit our friends at Hawthorne Flight Service with whom we spoke so often. Flying to Hawthorne meant transitioning the LAX Class B airspace. There are several VFR routes for the convenience of pilots transitioning through this area: coastal or shoreline route, mini route, Colosseum, or Hollywood Park route.  Based on LAX airport configuration for the day and air traffic density in the region, arrival and destination airport, one of the routes can be assigned to pilots.

On this day, our assigned route was the Shoreline Route. It is quite impressive flying  by LAX, with views of arriving and departing aircraft, busy SOCAL freeways, crowded beaches and downtown LA. After visiting with the Hawthorne FSS, it was time to trace our way back home. The departure from Hawthorne presents some interesting challenges as well.  The proximity t o LAX meant that we had to climb to altitude quickly through a narrow space which meant a boxed climb to cruise of 3,500 ft and this time a transition through the mini route. We headed home enthused after our very successful adventures traversing LAX Class B airspace and visiting Hawthorne FSS.

References:
ATC History
The Evolution of Flight Service Stations
FAA Facility going up at Hawthorne Airport
Helping the GA Community for over 90 years
LAX Class B VFR Transition Routes

Fernando


There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando

–ABBA

“Cleared for the Fernando Five Arrival,” said the SOCAL Controller.

What…. OMG. I was almost freaking out. I thought they used Standard Terminal Arrival Routes (STARs) to manage airline traffic going into major airports. Why does ATC want me to fly this route? I hadn’t really planned for this.

It was Spring of 2005. Grace and I were newly minted instrument rated pilots anxious to try our new skills. The day was a picture-perfect California spring day. Couldn’t ask for a better day to practice instrument flying skills as we planned our trip to the Southwest Section 99s meeting in Van Nuys, Southern California. We had both gotten our instrument ratings the previous year. Most of my flying since getting my IFR rating was to file and fly IFR.

There was a drastic change in how I recorded my flights in my logbook since that fateful day almost a year back in May of 2004 that recorded my Instrument Check ride with the added notes “It’s finally over!”. Most of my entries began with “Crepe 3 FRAMS” or “Crepe 3 PRB” depending on the destination and direction of departure for my flight. On this fateful day the flight record was

Crepe 3 D>RZS Fernando Five VNY ILS R16R

While during the past year, I had mastered punching in the departure procedure into the flight plan, I had never flown an arrival procedure yet. The departure procedure was always easier since it was assigned during the departure clearance while still on the ground with ample time to insert it into the flight plan. Crepe 3 was the most frequently used Standard Instrument Departure (SID) at SBP for departing aircraft.

Grace quickly sifted through the stack of instrument charts we had to pull up the Fernando Five Arrival (FIM.FERN5) chart as I tried to keep the aircraft straight and level. Since we were heading to San Marcus VOR (RZS) direct, this would require us to fly the OHIGH transition (OHIGH.FERN5). First the 087-radial outbound from RZS to OHIGH thence Filmore VOR (FIM) radial 267 direct FIM. Then the notes say:

LANDING VAN NUYS RWY 16: Via FIM R-053 to UMBER INT, then via I-VNY localizer. Expect ILS RWY 16R

Watch your altitude. Watch your heading. I kept reiterating to myself. This was serious business. Flying under IFR requires pilots to maintain their altitude within 200ft and heading within 10 degrees. While flying IFR departures and enroute cruise flight seems fairly relaxed, arrival and approach flight is whole lot more complex and complicated. Not only due to the high density air traffic but also because of the step down altitudes to ensure safe descent to the airport environment, the frequent heading changes to orient the aircraft towards the airport, and transition to the approach procedures such as the localizer or instrument landing system (ILS). It was the first time either of us was flying a STAR and the first time flying into Van Nuys (VNY) airport which is considered the busiest General Aviation (GA) airport in the National Airspace System (NAS). Furthermore, it is in the busy LA Basin area. It was nerve racking, but we came out of it unscathed with the ultimate prize of flying the first STAR under our belt. Exhilarating!

That was not the end of the exhilaration. During that very memorable SWS meeting we got to visit Caltech and NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), saw Mars Rover exhibits: Spirit and Opportunity. That year they were the two most popular rovers on everyone’s minds as they had successfully completed their mission in April 2004. Although the original mission was for three months, the life of the rovers continued for much longer. Communication with Spirit ceased in May 2012 after being stuck in a sand trap for two years and couldn’t be rescued. Last year, in February 2019, NASA finally declared the Opportunity mission over after losing contact with it since June 2018.

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Five Years Ago: Grass!


Robinson airport (MD14) is a small private, grass airport along the Patuxent River, but  inside the SFRA. There are two grass runways : R9/R27 and R18/R36. They are difficult to identify if you are not familiar with the airspace. Huge smokestacks to the left of them along the river give an indication of where to look. R9/R27 almost looks like a grass field and not really a runway. If you didn’t know it existed, you likely wouldn’t have thought it was one!

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R9/R27 is the larger runway at 2,600ftx70ft, bumpy and running a little uphill, when landing on R9; while trees line the end of R27, requiring a higher than normal approach, and a more precise landing.

Continue to read here.

ForeFlight Track Log Review — BruceAir, LLC (bruceair.com)


ForeFlight now includes an enhanced track log that any pilot–but especially flight instructors and pilots in training–will find useful when reviewing and debriefing flights. The new Track Log Review feature is available in ForeFlight release 11.5. Here’s the ForeFlight video that explains the feature. (ForeFlight has published a series of how-to videos on its YouTube […]

via ForeFlight Track Log Review — BruceAir, LLC (bruceair.com)

Why Ask Why? — PilotSafety.org


It’s often said the most underutilized words in the pilot/controller lexicon are “Unable” and “Say Again”. Sometimes, it’s critically important to get your point across, clear up a misunderstanding and getclarification in the most expeditious way possible, and other times, the issue is a bit more subtle but just as important. Recently, a story came […]

via Why Ask Why? — PilotSafety.org

Spread Your Wings! — Aviation Ideas and Discussion!


As pilots, we have an amazing diversity of “flying machines” available to us. Unfortunately, most of us never take the time and money necessary to explore these unique experiences. In other articles here I have advocated for “envelope expansion” in your regualr piston flying. This builds skills and enhances safety. But other categories and classes…

via Spread Your Wings! — Aviation Ideas and Discussion!

5 Rules of Thumb Every Pilot Should Know  Boldmethod — Peter “Just Loves Flying” — Madox Air Sports The Gambia


5 Rules of Thumb Every Pilot Should Know Colin Cutler 1) Estimating Your Crosswind Component When you’re on the ground, it’s easy to use the crosswind chart in your POH, or an E6B. But when you’re in the air, neither of those options are very practical. Lucky of all of us, there’s an easier way. If […]

via 5 Rules of Thumb Every Pilot Should Know  Boldmethod — Peter “Just Loves Flying” — Madox Air Sports The Gambia