Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rosamond - Avalon / Cessna 182RG II (N7167V) / VFR

I originally planned this flight to follow V186 and then sneak around the Los Angeles Class B airspace, but once in the air I decided to take some shortcuts. I started with a climb to 6500, dropping to 4500 by VNY.

I noticed that the Lake Hughes, Van Nuys, and Santa Monica VORs all lie on a single line, more or less, so I just continued over VNY rather than turning east and went towards Santa Monica. Instead of going all the way around the eastern end of the Class B, I decided to take the SFRA right over the field at LAX. Continuing straight through SMO at 163 wouldn't do, so I turned due west and descended quickly to 3500 while I waited to intercept the SMO 312 radial inbound. This would allow me to depart SMO already aligned for the SFRA, and at the right altitude. This worked out pretty well (the slow speed of the Cessna helped), and I scampered across LAX by the book. Once clear of the SFRA, I turned southwest and went out over the water, descending slowly to 2500 while I waited to intercept the SXC 202 radial. This radial turned me roughly towards Santa Catalina Island and the altitude put me about 900 feet above the runway at Avalon.

I know the island fairly well and I know which way to head to get to the tiny airfield there. The weather was clear, so I could easily see the island even from the shoreline of the mainland. After riding along the 202 radial for a while, I turned to 210 and started in towards the airport. Within a short time I could make out lights above the cliffs at the airfield. From then on it was easy enough to line up my approach, and the landing was excellent. I quickly taxied over to the tiny terminal, let out my passengers, and shut everything down. There's no fuel at the airport that I know of, but I have more than enough to return to the mainland.

I landed about 25 minutes after five o'clock, which technically is not allowed at Avalon at this time of year. Thank goodness I was able to receive special permission to land. The 1600-foot cliffs at either end of the runway always make landing and taking off especially exciting, but there's generally no danger if one takes proper precautions.

There was a lot of turbulence on the way to VNY, but it got a lot smoother after that, making my passengers happy. I was also briefly stuck in IMC along the way. However, with no ATC online, IFR is much the same as VFR, so I didn't bother to switch to IFR during the minute or two that I was below VFR minimums.

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