Thursday, October 15, 2009

San Franciso - LAX - San Francisco / Cessna Citation X (N7446E) / IFR

The two legs of this trip were actually several days apart. The trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles went well. The return trip was a bit harrowing at the end, but otherwise okay.

On the return trip, some changes I made to the route along the way apparently confused the FMS. I've grown used to steep descents in the Citation, so when the aircraft didn't start down quite where I expected, I wasn't worried. After a while, though, I realized that I was much too high, and ATC was offline. I then switched to VS mode and made a stunning 9000-fpm descent to 2000 feet scarcely more than a dozen miles from the threshold. I couldn't do it fast enough and at a low enough speed to still consider landing, so I had to go around. By the time I came back around to 28R, I was all nicely configured to land, and landing was without incident.

In the old days, I might have tried to make it on the first pass. But these days I realize that I'd never do stupid things like that in real life, so I went around. Even the harrowing descent is something that wouldn't happen in real life (even though it would be technically possible). I was still afflicted a bit by get-there-itis, but I'm getting better. Just have to keep asking myself “Would I actually do this in real life?” The vast majority of the time, the answer is yes, as I'm a very safe pilot. But these aberrations still occur and must be curtailed, for the sake of realism.