Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Santa Paula - Avalon - Palm Springs - Big Bear - Montgomery / Bonanza A36 (N7421F) / VFR-IFR

Among the zillions of flights I've flown and failed to log, I recently took a couple of virtual friends around SoCal to various points of interest in one of my Bonanzas. These flights were notable because I installed a free upgrade of Active Sky that is supposed to improve weather depiction, and it definitely does seem to do that (although Active Sky was already quite spectacular in its weather depictions).

Anyway, we started out at Santa Paula in fairly nice weather. To stay out of ATC's hair, I flew to FIM and then SILEX, which lines me up with the Santa Monica VOR on the same radial inbound that I need outbound to cruise through the LAX SFRA. We squeaked through the SFRA without any trouble and then headed out over the water to Catalina. I stayed at 3500 even though this would not allow me to glide to land in the event of an engine failure, because I have great confidence in this airplane, and because staying within gliding distance would require that I climb to almost 10,000 feet in ten miles, and then descend again, which is very difficult with a fully loaded aircraft. In real life I probably wouldn't have even made the trip in a single, but who knows?

The weather stayed good all the way out to Avalon. We parked there overnight as the airport had closed by the time we arrived (technically we arrived after it closed, but a special exception was made for us).

The next day we headed out to Palm Springs. This was with four passengers and myself, and a small amount of luggage, so I couldn't fill the tanks, but we had plenty for the trip. I flew SLI PDZ DEWAY and then PSP. Once again the weather was nice, with some turbulence around Banning, which is typical. I landed on 31L and parked at Signature.

Our next leg was right around sunset, from Palm Springs up to Big Bear City (the picture shown here was taken during that flight, near Banning Pass). I know the path to Big Bear via the valley on the west end of the lake, over the dam, so that's the route I took, even though it was a bit of a detour. I thought of following the highway around the other side, but I've never done that before and didn't want to do it at dusk, and I'd be poorly position for landing, anyway, since approaches over the lake are preferred. Everything went well and it was pretty dark by the time we landed. We had one less passenger, having left one at KPSP

The final leg I flew on my own, leaving my passengers at Big Bear. This started out IFR because it was night time, OKACA1.OKACA. I had to go up to 11,000 for the departure and MEA so oxygen was necessary (at least by my standards). After crossing Julian, I canceled IFR and started down to 6500 and then 4500 feet, since terrain was no longer a factor (I followed the valley down towards El Capitan Reservoir just to be extra sure). The take-off was a bit hairy because I forgot to sync the heading bug before turning on HDG mode, but I corrected that quickly. Landing was very smooth in clear weather.