Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Long Cross Country For IFR requirement before Checkride

Had a great time on the long cross country IFR trip today. Went north because the CFII wanted to make sure we got out of the TEC area (for whatever that's worth, decided to stop over-thinking it).

We took off at 9:00 am bound for Santa Barbara. Went well, minus the one time when I got all frustrated trying to figure out where I was (ATC took us off the eastbound EMT departure procedure and vectored us back westbound toward V186)...just a brain fart that was multiplied by my frustration. Funny how you can have 4 out of 5 things going right and you start focusing on that one thing that's not right and pretty soon you've got 4 things screwed up.

Anyway, I recovered from that and had a nice flight. A good portion of it was over a thick cloud bank. Did the ILS to runway 7 and had actual. Broke out about 400 feet above the minimums (actual, just what the Double Eye was hoping for).

We went to Atlantic to bring the fuel back to the tabs (we're both fatties so we can't fill 'er all the way up, so took off from EMT with fuel to the tabs) and, while they were exceptionally nice and the Otis Spunkmeyer cookies were delish, they were really busy and it took about 30 minutes from the time we pulled in till we pulled back out.

Next stop was Santa Maria. Was originally going to go to San Luis Obispo but realized they only had a VOR approach for me (can't do RNAV, no DME for the Back Course) so Santa Maria graciously offered her Localizer approach to runway 12. Nice, little flight there, interesting approach. Had lunch at Pepper Garcias. I've read both good and bad about the place on the Red Board, but we enjoyed it.

Took awhile to find someone to let us back onto the airport though as no one with a key could be found. Someone in operations pulled the short stick and had to come let us in. The longest leg of the trip was SMX to EMT and it was really nice to get that much time under the hood with time to think and plan. I could get 2 or 3 steps ahead and be ready to identify intersections, nail my altitude for giant stretches, hold my headings accurately...well, I'm exaggerating about the headings...the CFII told me I was busted once when I was blissfully tooling along 15 degrees off the heading (I argued that I was on the radial, was merely finishing up my course correcting, etc., etc....he didn't buy it).

Somewhere before Van Nuys we were vectored in a big 360 to make room for an Eclipse that was bearing down on us.

The VOR-A approach into El Monte was about as dead-nuts as I've ever done it. Right on course, timer went off at exactly the right place, I held my altitude and airspeed nearly perfectly the whole way...even joking with the CFII (when he mangled a sentence and used a wrong term I set him straight and said, "Don't worry, I'll get you through this.").

Total flight time 4.7 hours. Won't be flying for a couple of weeks as I'm heading out to Hawaii for vacation, but when we get back we'll be doing our Check Ride prep...I think I'm getting close to being ready....

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