Monday, November 24, 2008

Santa Barbara - Los Angeles / Cessna 182RG II (N7167V) / IFR

SoCal was busy this evening, so I decided to make a quick trip down to Los Angeles with the Cessna I had parked in Santa Barbara. Because of the misty weather (KSBA itself was IFR), I decided to file IFR, even though this small Cessna is a handful when you are flying alone at night IFR. It would be a challenge.

I dutifully filed a TEC route for the flight, SBAM10. Because the Cessna has no moving-map GPS or anything that recognizes waypoints, however, I filed the waypoints as direction and distance from VORs, e.g., RZS119018 instead of KWANG. I figured this would make it clear to ATC that I didn't have a fancy moving-map screen on the aircraft. However, it turned out to puzzle ATC, which doesn't have a lot of experience with general aviation and especially this type of IFR, since most pilots fly big iron. I was asked if I could accept a route that was identical to what I had filed, except that it had waypoint names instead of radials and DMEs. I pointed this out to ATC and was cleared as filed.

The weather was actually better at KSBA than the METAR had said, but there was still a lot of fog and low clouds, so the decision to go IFR still made sense. I departed from runway 7 and was giving a heading of 100 to follow for a while, with my filed altitude of 5000. After the handoff from the local SoCal Approach to Center, I was given a climb to 8000 and direct VTU, then my own navigation.

I was told to cross VTU at 5000 and effectively depart VTU on V107 direct to SMO. This sounded odd, so I looked at the chart, and sure enough, V107 doesn't pass through VTU. I had filed V299 to SADDE (not given by name, though), and then V107 to SMO. However, Center was busy and it all boiled down to practically the same thing, so I just flew V299 anyway to get to V107.

I was told to depart SMO on 070, which I did, and shortly thereafter I got 3000 at my discretion. SoCal Approach kept me drifting east almost to downtown Los Angeles while it handled other traffic. Then I started getting vectors to turn me south. Ultimately I was cleared for the ILS runway 24R approach and descended to 2500. It all went pretty smoothly.

I flew the ILS by hand. I've learned the value of a slow, stable approach and I kept fiddling with throttle and trim to get myself on the glide path at a nice, slow speed. I was better at centering on the localizer than on staying on the glide path, but I did pretty well on both. After JETSA I was handed off to LAX Tower and was immediately cleared to land.

The landing was very smooth, on that huge runway, and I was given taxi instructions to my parking place, a popular FBO on the south side of the field. Too bad I had no passengers on this flight to impress with my flying skills.

Next time, though, I might just file the waypoints to avoid confusing ATC, even if I don't actually have a GPS for navigation. Using VORs is plenty close enough.

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