Saturday, August 22, 2009

Santa Paula - Corona / Piper Dakota (N9706W) / VFR

So I was standing around at Santa Paula again, debating which aircraft I should take up for a spin among the several of my fleet that are sitting here at the airport. Suddenly, a man runs up to me, whom I recognize as famed Dr. Clayton Forrester of Pacific Tech, and asks me to take him to Corona, which somehow doesn't surprise me. That gives me an excuse to fly, and we hop into one of my Piper Dakotas, N9706W, sitting on the ramp.

I'm getting to know V186 by heart, and I quickly set up a route to the Fillmore VOR and then along V186 to PDZ, at which point we'd slip over the Class C and drop down to land at Corona.

The night is very clear, and we take off without incident, making a left downwind departure and then direct to FIM. Night operations are prohibited at Santa Paula (the runway isn't even lit), but with someone as renowned as Dr. Forrester, it was easy to get an exception made. I find it puzzling that KSZP has a left-handed pattern for runway 22, because there are mountains south of the field, whereas none to the north. I guess noise abatement is more important than safety of life. It's always a challenge to clear those hills, and in this case I had to pull up substantially when I realized that they were right in front of me (maybe that's another reason why the airport doesn't allow night operations?).

After that, it was just a matter of cruising along V186, which we did at 5500 feet, high enough to keep us out of the Class C airspaces at Burbank and Ontario. When we got do PDZ, I turned to 130 degrees and flew clear of the Class C below us, then descended briskly to to 2500 feet and turned around towards Corona. I looked for Lake Matthews to help me orient myself, but I couldn't see it in the darkness … however, I could see Interstate 15 and the Riverside Freeway, which I knew intersected just southeast of Corona Municipal, and that helped me get my bearings. There's also a dry wash of sorts east of the field (I don't know if it has a name), and I could see the darkness of the wash to help me.

Anyway, the beacon at the airport was easy to spot, and we landed without incident. Dr. Forrester hitched a ride to the Puente Mall to deal with those pesky Martians, and I decided to dematerialize here for the night.

Blog Archive