Sunday, October 12, 2008

Phoenix - Los Angeles / Boeing 737-800 / IFR

Time to fly the big iron again. This evening I flew from Phoenix to Los Angeles in my 737-800, in Southwest livery, although there were no real-world Southwest flights at this hour. The only ATC available was tower control at PHX and LAX.

The flight was mostly uneventful, as the majority of flights tend to be. At least I didn't hit a mountain as I had with the Baron a day earlier; I'm still not happy about that accident. Anyway, ATC gave me a slight change in routing for my clearance, asking for PSP as my transition instead of TNP. I accepted, even though this messed up the legs along the way a bit (which I fixed). I should have asked for a readback of the entire route, since changing the transition also took it off the airway and had other effects. Additionally, the SEAVU2 that I had filed for LAX was not valid after midnight; I discovered this in mid-flight and changed it to a RDEYE2 arrival.

The flight took far longer than expected because of headwinds. At one point I had 120-knot headwinds along the way. I considered this surreal and perhaps a fiction invented by the sim, but no, when I looked at the real winds aloft in real time at NOAA's Aviation Weather Service. There were extremely high winds just about at the spot where I was flying—just my luck. It seemed to take forever to get into LAX.

I finally did arrive. I was on the RDEYE2, which I couldn't recall having ever previously flown, and I went for 06L, although I later discovered that 06R is preferred for “suicide ops” arrivals (this ominous nickname refers to operations at LAX late at night for noise abatement, when the airport has take-offs going in the opposite direction of landings in order to avoid creating noise over residential areas … an inherently dangerous way to handle flights). Because of unsteady surface winds (gusts of 20 knots on the METAR), I elected to autoland “for currency,” and did so without incident. I had left gate C18, typically used by Southwest, and I taxied to gate 14, also used by Southwest, just for that extra dab of realism.

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