Monday, November 10, 2008

Santa Monica - Montgomery Field / Cessna 182RG II (N7141S) / VFR

Another Cessna that I've based in Santa Monica. I took this brand-new one down to Montgomery Field in San Diego.

The flight went smoothly, but the ATC didn't. When I called for taxi and clearance into the LAX Class B, I got the taxi but not the clearance (from SoCal Approach, which works KSMO on VATSIM when there's no tower controller). At the hold point for runway 21, I got my take-off clearance but no Class B clearance, and since my route would take me immediately into the Class B (I had planned to fly a TEC route that started with direct LIMBO), I asked about it. I was told to contact LAX Tower after departure for my Class B clearance, which made no sense at all. I pointed this out and was told to fly heading 270, so I did.

Once I was clear of the field, though, I though it prudent to switch to a route that would not require any communication with ATC, since what I was getting was a bit confusing. So I circled to the north and then back down to the Santa Monica VOR, lining myself up with the 132 radial. From SMO I continued into the LAX SFRA at 3500, squawking 1201. I figured the controller wouldn't know what I was doing, but as long as I was legal, that was not my problem. Once clear of the SFRA, I headed for the shoreline, and once at the shoreline, I climbed to 5500 to avoid the Orange County Class C and continued on my way.

SoCal Approach signed off soon thereafter, and then there was no ATC for a while. Someone else signed on as SoCal Approach as I was landing at Montgomery Field, and sent me a message, but it was too late for me to contact him for the landing, so I waited until I had cleared the runway to contact him. He gave me instructions to the ramp and I was done.

It's disorienting when ATC does weird things, particularly for a pilot like myself, who goes strictly by the book. Sometimes it's trivial and doesn't matter, but sometimes it's a problem. I can't fly into Class B without a clearance, and tower controllers are not in a position to issue Class B clearances to aircraft on the fringes of the airspace. I submitted feedback to the ARTCC about it. Usually ATC in SoCal is excellent, but there are occasional students who are still learning.

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