Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa Monica - Palm Springs / Beechcraft Bonanza A36 (N6835W) / IFR

Well after midnight, we went back to the airport. This time, in addition to myself as pilot, we had my virtual parents and my virtual aunt and uncle, for a total of five people. Loaded with sufficient fuel for an hour and a half of flying (versus an expected 45-minute flight to Palm Springs), we were at the very limit for take-off weight for this tiny airplane. I put my mother in the copilot's seat because she likes to be in front, but that left us with a CoG right up against the aft limit, so next time I'm afraid she'll have to take a different seat and I'll have to put someone heavier up front instead of in the back.

Once again I filed IFR because of the variable wind conditions. There's no TEC route to PSP from SMO, apparently, so I cooked one up, which was extraordinarily time-consuming because it took 20 minutes to bring up every Web page I needed (and some of them never came up, so I couldn't check winds aloft or things like that).

This flight went very well, except for the irritating MEA of 9500 on V388 towards PSP. That would require an eastbound altitude of 11,000 feet, with everyone on oxygen (I take no chances), not to mention a 10,000 foot descent to reach Palm Springs. After creaking my way up past 10,000, I decided that made no sense, and asked for and got 9000, which is already high enough, especially through Banning Pass. It was still quite a sleigh ride on the descent, trying to get down to the field. Fortunately the wind favored us and I was able to make a straight-in approach (just compensation for the terrific 45-knot headwind we had to put up with aloft).

The landing was very smooth. I hardly needed any nose-up trim on the way down because our CoG was so far aft, but I didn't see that as an advantage.

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