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!

grass2

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

Monday Musings: Unable


Four years ago…

Miami Center, can we get direct Ft. Pierce,” I asked eying the ominous looking dark clouds at our 12 o’clock.
“Unable for the next 10 minutes. Maintain heading,” responded Miami Center.

We had departed Bimini, our final halt in the Bahamas before heading back to the States. It was cloudy and IMC along the Florida Coast and we had filed an IFR flight plan for the return.  Bimini is a mere 10nm miles from the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ ) and with luck, we had circled as we climbed to altitude and after multiple attempts, finally established radio contact with Miami Center. This was not only crucial since we were in-bound, crossing the ADIZ, but also because weather along our route was mostly IMC.

We proceeded as directed, continuing to watch the rapidly approaching weather system, straight ahead. When is the best time to tell the controller I am unable to follow his directive, I pondered. The system ahead looked turbulent and moisture laden. It is not fun heading into this mess in a Cessna 172. But I was also curious to see how it felt, how I would handle it, and understand my limits. Fortunately, just as we started penetrating the mess, Miami Center, cleared us direct to Ft. Pierce, so we could avoid the system.

Unable might seem like a taboo word, something you should never use or one you feel affronted to use since it admits a weakness of some sort or some such frivolous reason, but believe it or not it is the most effective word in your pilot lingo that might just save the day.

Continue to read here.

Words on Wednesdays: Seems like yesterday


I almost missed this milestone.

This month marked two decades since my first intro flight when I officially began my flight training. Has it really been that long?

I still fondly and vividly remember that day like yesterday, when I flew my first solo.

Or that first cross country I made to King City, that made me nervous I would get lost. Or better yet that second  long cross-country to South County airport that required two go-arounds, to the ire of others in the traffic pattern.

Or the first foray to Bakersfield after getting my ticket and getting lost for dialing in the wrong VOR frequency and having a non-functioning transponder! How about that first ILS approach into Watsonville in actual  IMC after getting my instrument rating ?

Or that time I took my friend from college to Monterey and experienced my first instrument failure.

Or the long solo cross country to satisfy the requirements for commercial pilot license.

Or the uncomfortable attempts to achieve the minimum night time requirements, or flying night solo cold turkey or the single night solo cross country flight or later the single night and IFR flight.

Seems like yesterday 🙂

See Also:

Logging Memories I

Logging Memories II

Logging Memories III

Logging Memories IV

Logging Memories V

Logging Memories VI

 

Unforgettable: A Review


After a rejuvenating Young Women in Engineering Event, meeting and networking with high school girls, I was reminded of what inspired me.

First posted in 2003.

From Fall of 2000. Enjoy!

Unforgettable.

Yes that is how every memory we make is.

Unforgettable by Lane Wallace is a book about flying. It is about Lane’s ten best flights. From the Swiss Alps to Key West, from Alaska to Sudan to Mexico and even to the edge of space.

Unforgettable is also about the passion and the joy of flying: be it in a piper cub, a U-2 space plane,  a blimp or a Grumman Cheetah.

Unforgettable is also about the wonder of flying: the emotions that race through the authors mind as she experiences and explores the world.

Each experience is unique and unforgettable and provides valuable insights into life, living, the joy of flying and the incredible resilience and fortitude of the human race for survival and happiness. Ultimately you must feel it personally to experience any connection with the author’s view. If you are passionate about flying, and enjoy the simple joy of it, Unforgettable is a must read.

One fine October day, several years ago, I had the distinct pleasure to attend an event that left a tremendous impact on me. I had just soled and was flying my first cross country to Santa Barbara (SBA) with my flight instructor. As we landed after the cross country flight, my instructor had said:

“I have an extra ticket to the SLO99s banquet, do you want to go?”

“Sure”, I responded, even though I was excited and tired after our flight. Although I had heard about the 99s, in those days, as a future women pilot, I was not eligible for membership.

As I listened to the calm, quiet voice of Lane and her passionate exposition on the wonder and joy of flying, my own enthusiasm and passions were sharply awakened. Writing was something I had yearned to do since I was in high school. Here and now was a voice I could relate to. The emotions, the excitement and the passions that Lane described appeared so inline with my own views and passions about flying. That unforgettable day, rekindled the fires within me to write.  In actuality my flying adventures are the fodder to my writing. Since that fateful day, I have devoured the Flying Magazine (i.e. until recently :-)). The first article I always read was Flying Lessons by Lane Wallace. More recently my copy of the Sport Aviation Magazine actually started to see some wear. Unfailingly, on the day I receive it, I swiftly open it to get my fill  of Flying Lessons by Lane Wallace.

You can learn more about Lane by visiting her personal websites:

Lane Wallace
No Map, No Guide, No Limits

Find the book on Amazon or Sporty’s.

Fresh on Fridays: More Falwell


Courtesy Gert