Wednesday, May 9, 2012

On the Rocks - San Diego / Cessna 152 (N709YL) / VFR

I haven't been add new posts because there are just too many troubles in real life lately, but I did make an especially reckless flight this evening, just for “fun.”

I started out from the lofty On the Rocks private airstrip near Alpine, California, and made for San Diego. Not a problem in itself, except that I departed VFR with no flgiht plan in IMC. The C152 has only a single VOR receiver and no DME. I pointed the VOR to Poggi and planned a heading towards the Sweetwater reservoir, and then a right turn towards KSAN. I noted that the reservoir was about 10 miles from PGY on the 338 radial.

Turning immediately to 239 after departure, I flew through lots of clouds with only glimpses of the terrain below, climbing laboriously to 4500 feet. I figured it would take about ten minutes to reach the reservoir in still air, and I had my one VOR set to the 338 radial from PGY so I'd know when I crossed it.

The air was very choppy, which made me a bit queasy as I pressed on. After about ten minutes, I looked carefully around for signs of a lake. I spotted the distinctive shape of the Otay Reservoir off to the left, right where it should be. Shortly thereafter I glimpsed what had to be the Sweetwater Reservoir dead ahead. I made a turn to 273 as the needle on the VOR showed me crossing the 338 radial.

After that, it got even bumpier. I pressed on, trying to stay on a heading of 273, although I had no idea what the wind was like. I made a slow descent through 2000 feet, and finally the clouds cleared a bit and I spotted the dark square of Balboa park off to my left, showing that I had drifted substantially north. However, with the park in sight, it was easy enough to turn back on course, and soon I could see runway lights at Lindbergh Field. It was a bumpy descent but the visibility was sufficient to keep the runway in sight the whole way. I finally touched down safely on runway 27.

I flew this offline because I was violating regulations. I half-expected it to end in tragedy, but I got lucky.