Sunday, August 2, 2009

Avalon - Santa Monica / Cessna 152 (N705YL) / VFR

After verifying that the weather was VFR (it was marginal VFR), I teleported one of my Cessna 152s to Avalon Airport, on Catalina Island, and flew to Santa Monica. The trip is about 43 nautical miles, half of that over water. I don't know that I'd feel comfortable flying a 152 over the ocean in real life, but in simulation, where failures occur only when you allow them to, there was no risk.

Take-off was to the west, as usual, and I made a downwind departure towards the mainland. On my single VOR I tuned Seal Beach, and flew towards that for a while, trying to avoid clouds. The weather cleared as I neared the mainland, and I turned roughly towards FERMY after reaching the breakwater before the Queen's Gate reporting point. I had been as low as 2000 feet (not good, I know, but there's no way I'd get high enough quickly enough to glide to the mainland while over the water, anyway), and climbed to 3500 as I came in over the mainland, in part to avoid the Class D airspaces at Torrance and Long Beach, and in part to prepare for my transition through the LAX SFRA, which requires 3500 feet northbound. EDIT: No, that's not right, I should have been at 4500 northbound! Aarrgh, huge mistake! I have a telephone number to call. — AA

I happened to land almost exactly on the SMO312 radial, which is the required radial for the SFRA, so I just followed it in. No need to worry about being below 140 KIAS for the SFRA in this aircraft, since I can barely get to 100 KIAS. I switched the transponder to 1201 as I silently sailed over LAX, then switched it back for my dramatic descent into KSMO. Santa Monica is just north of LAX and I was at 3500 feet, so I descended with a slight slip in order to get down to pattern altitude as quickly as I could, after being approved for a left downwind entry (the pattern was empty, anyway).

The landing was very smooth. I was surprised at how well it went. I guess it's hard to make too many mistakes at only 50 knots. The weather was nice and clear in Santa Monica (although it's now low IFR as I write this, several hours later). Getting lost wasn't much of a risk here as I know the SoCal airspace and geography quite well.

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