Saturday, November 22, 2008

Phoenix - Sedona / Beechcraft Baron 58 (N2735W) / IFR

This evening there was a “Friday Night Ops” event in ZAB, so I decided to fly one of my Barons from Phoenix up to Sedona. I was born in Phoenix, so I know the area well, and I know this route well (however, experience has taught me that this is no excuse to cut corners). It was already nighttime, alas! But it was still enjoyable. During events like this, a full complement of ATC is online, which greatly enhances realism.

Because the mountainous terrain can be tricky on the way up to Sedona at night, and because I had lots of ATC, I chose to file IFR for the flight, at 8000 (the MEA is actually 8100, so I guess I was cheating a bit, but I was cleared for it). I was sent out to runway 8 from the GA ramp on the northwest corner of Sky Harbor (I like to park under the ramadas there), and held short while I watched two airliners land on 8 and on (I think) 7L. I saw airliners taxiing past me while I was parked on the ramp, too. It's nice to see so much traffic on VATSIM.

Anyway, after the 737 landed, I was told to position and hold for a few minutes. I was then cleared to take off with an initial heading of 070 (I had filed PXR.RADOM). My initial altitude was 7000 but I was cleared to my filed altitude of 8000 as I made my turn, and then direct RADOM followed by my own navigation.

Weather was good but hot, still around 24 degrees (Celsius) at Sky Harbor, which is about 12 degrees too much for me. Weather at Sedona was 6 degrees and crystal clear. I stayed at 8000 for a while, but requested and got 10000 as I approached Pine Mountain, just to be safe (even though the mountain tops out at less than 7000). I stayed at 10000 thereafter, which probably wasn't a good idea.

At EXUTY I was still at 10000 (the GPS approach says 8000 or above), which meant I had ten miles to lose 5200 feet of altitude, at 186 knots. As I turned to LYRIT I could easily see the feel, so I advised ATC, was cleared for a visual approach, and then I canceled IFR. Then I tried to make a very speedy descent to the glide slope (field elevation is 4800). I overshot and went below the glide slope, which is a bad thing in these parts. I had a brief moment of serious anxiety when the PAPI abruptly blinked out on the approach—meaning that something was between me and the lights—and I couldn't remember any high terrain on this side of the field, since it's on top of a mesa and there's a big drop-off at this end. I scampered back up to the glide slope, and by then I was roaring into the field, too fast because of my quick descent, and with an excessive rate of descent.

I flared aggressively as I passed over the threshold, but it was still quite a hard landing. So I taxied to the ramp kicking myself for starting too high over EXUTY and not being in a good, stabilized approach for landing. The Baron is faster and slipperier than the Cessna 182; I must be getting rusty after all that easy Cessna flight. I didn't want to take a Cessna on this trip, though.

Anyway, I taxied to the ramp a bit frustrated. I must do better next time.

Blog Archive