Sunday, May 31, 2009

Redlands - Santa Paula / Cessna 182RG Skylane (N7049S) / VFR

Weather conditions were somewhat marginal for this flight. I had originally planned to go out to Catalina, but Catalina was below VFR minimums, so I settled for Santa Paula. As it was, I still had to dodge a lot of clouds along the way, especially over Van Nuys and Burbank.

All went reasonably well, though, until it was time to descend into Santa Paula. There were low clouds between me and the Fillmore VOR, so I quickly descended and zigzagged a bit to avoid them. As I crossed FIM I turned to a heading of 220, with the thought in my mind that it would be a straight line to Santa Paula. Unfortunately, I didn't bother to double-check which radial I should be on out of FIM, and 220 wasn't it.

As I flew along in the haze, I checked for landmarks proving I was going the right way. Highway? Check. Train tracks? Check. Riverbed? Check. Low hills to the south? Check. The problem here, of course, was that there are about 1,487 different airports in SoCal that would match these landmarks. I noticed that I didn't see much sign of urban blight on the way in, but I figured it was just haze blocking my view. Finally, I did see an airport—but it was way too big, and the runway was in the wrong place. I realized I was just about to bust the Class D of Camarillo airport.

I turned quickly northeast. I was above the Class D so I was safe, although I could picture ATC watching me on their scopes and wondering just exactly what I was doing. I scampered over the low hills (more low hills!) north of me, and as I flew over them, I spotted familiar scenery, and realized I now actually had Santa Paula in sight.

I made a ragged left base for runway 22 and managed to squeak in; I was already moving pretty slowly, fortunately. A crosswind complicated things further, but I got down all right, just barely staying on the runway pavement. Mission accomplished!

I considered going out to Catalina, but by then it was past six o'clock, and Avalon closes at 7 PM, so I skipped it.