Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Agua Dulce - LAX / Cessna 152 (N705YL) / VFR

This was a very short flight that took a long time, thanks to the fact that I was flying a pokey little Cessna 152. One thing I can say about this aircraft is that you have plenty of time to plan ahead. It's really hard to “get behind” an aircraft that is only making 90 knots on a good day. You can see the field for hours—days—before you reach it, like a picture on a wall.

As I'm accustomed to flying something a bit more performant, I often make things worse in the 152. For example, several miles from the field, I'm at full flaps and Vref—the only problem is that this configuration has me flying at about 50 knots, and it takes forever to reach the field at 50 knots. So I'm puttering along and looking at my watch and wondering when I'll actually get close enough to land. I need to remember to keep the gas pedal floored, so to speak, until I'm practically on top of the airport, and then slow down for landing.

Most of the ATC I deal with only sees a 152 once in a blue moon, so they probably are surprised by its slowness, too. VFR is much less common on VATSIM than in real life, and Cessna 152s are perhaps the least common of relatively recent GA aircraft to be seen.

Anyway, I finally got into LAX, drifting downwards onto the runway while big iron roared around me in every direction. The landing was glassy smooth and took place at just over walking speed. I'm sure the overpowered jets around me were grinding their teeth with impatience. At least in the USA tiny planes still have the right to land at big airports. In snooty Europe the controllers would probably just laugh at a Cessna 152 asking to land at CDG or Heathrow (in fact, Heathrow, at least, specifically prohibits it).