Monday, June 28, 2010

San Juan - Sint Maarten - San Juan / Cessna Citation X (N7447E) / IFR

I handled this flight poorly, too, as it involved one of those extremely rare occasions when I've been obligated to take a missed approach.

I fixed up a pretty good route out of San Juan, JETSS1 SLUGO ULUBA1 at FL290. The flight went very well, until it was time to land. Sint Maarten was fogged in. I took the RNAV approach to runway 10, but try as I might I could not see the runway in time, and took the missed approach. Unfortunately, the FMS seemed to have trouble with the missed approach procedure, and so did I.

I eventually got vectored out to where I could try again. On this try, I could actually see the runway, but only after I went missed again. I decided to try one more time.

On the third try, just when I was about to give up, I saw runway lights, and I was able to come in for a reasonable landing. I had enough fuel to go back to San Juan, but I really wasn't relishing the thought.

Another large jet went missed as I did, but a third simply landed visually at extremely low altitude. Either he had way different weather than what I had (certainly possible in simulation, if he doesn't have real weather set up the same way), or he was violating a stack of regulations. In fact, I'm sure he was violating regulations irrespective of the weather.

Anyway, I was displeased with the behavior of the FMS. I wish I had a complete manual for it. I flew everything after the first missed approach with the autopilot alone, and by hand.

For the return trip, things went more easily, since the weather in San Juan was good and the weather at Princess Juliana airport had cleared up. Unfortunately, I noticed that I had a student controller waiting at San Juan Approach, with the ominous warning in his comments that he would “not tolerance disobediance (sic),” so rather than be bossed around by a junior-high student, I completed the flight offline. I parked right where I had started earlier in the day.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Phoenix - Casa Grande - Phoenix / Cessna 152 (N706YL) / VFR

I haven't been logging flights for quite some time, but I'm still flying (or should I put that in quotation marks to please “real” pilots?).

Anyway, this was a very short flight, which is the only sort of flight that I undertake in pokey Cessna 152s. It started at fabulous Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and ended in Casa Grande. I didn't fly it very well, considering how short the distance was (31 nm).

My intention was to fly from the Phoenix VOR (PXR) to the Stanfield VOR (TFD), then turn east to reach the field. It seemed more elegant to follow an airway, even over this short distance. Unfortunately, I didn't exactly time my progress and the very slow airspeed of the 152 again misled me into thinking that perhaps I was flying too far. I used the CHD NDB to try to triangulate my position but it was very awkward. Finally I decided to turn off the airway and head east to intercept the 143 radial out of PXR. I had flight following and Center asked why I was turning east when I had my destination field just ahead (odd to hear that from Center—it must have been a slow day). Center said the field was now at my 2 o'clock, so I turned right 60 degrees, and after a minute or two I could make out the hangars. I then landed without incident.

All in all, a poor performance for a 32-nm trip. Yes, I could have flown by pilotage, but the objective was to practice with radio navigation aids. I deliberately ignored Interstate 10, which leads almost in a straight line between KPHX and KCGZ.

For the return trip, I just followed the highway, which was quite easy in the perpetually hot but clear weather of the Great American Southwest.