Thursday, October 16, 2008

Big Bear City - Santa Paula / Cessna 182RG II / VFR

More Cessna practice. This flight went extremely well, whereas I've had trouble on this route before (and not just in the Cessna).

Weather was mostly clear with just a cloud or two here and there, even in the mountains. I took off west over the lake even though the winds didn't favor this; with the mountains and the short take-off run that I needed (even with three passengers), I consider this safer than a take-off to the east. I had no trouble getting to 8500 by the time I reached the opposite end of the lake, and that was higher than I needed to be to clear terrain, by far.

On this occasion, in the afternoon, I easily found my way south through the steep little valley at the west end of the lake. As I cleared the valley and turned towards Pomona on V264, I descended to 6500. Surprisingly, I was quite good at holding my altitude pretty exactly (within 20 feet!). The night was very clear and I had no problems at all with visibility, and there was a fair amount of traffic in the area. I didn't bother with flight following, but I did monitor Center and SoCal Approach.

After Pomona I turned onto V186, as usual, and stayed at 6500 until I was outside the Burbank Class C airspace. Then it was a gradual descent to 4500, at which point I was more than half way to FIM. I had a hard time staying on course to FIM in this tiny Cessna with its Spartan avionics, but it didn't matter much because I recognized the terrain below. I was able to spot the airport from quite a distance away, and thanks to some careful preparation to get my speed down, I was able to come in for a very nice landing despite the substantial obstacles short of the runway. Usually my landings at KSZP are bumpy, but this one was perfect.

After pulling onto the ramp, I was in the mood for another flight.

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