Thursday, July 14, 2016

This blog is intended to be an expansion of my Private Pilot Logbook. I hope it will be a place where I share something I learned or observed during a flight.

I'm a private pilot, licensed in 1990. My training was held at Brown Field in San Diego, mostly in a 150. I'm based currently at Montgomery Field, a member of a flying club named Plus One Flyers, also since 1990 (I'm waiting for some kind of award for being a paying member for so long). I mainly fly Cessna 172s and Piper aircraft (cherokee and archer II) as are available in the club. I have time in Mooney 210, Citabria (but I have no tailwheel endorsement yet, just the experience during instruction), and Tabago. I had an engine out over Montgomery back in 1994, maybe I'll talk about it here (I did get a chance to talk about it with the FAA and write about it for the club newsletter).

In 1997 I had enough hours for an instrument rating, plus a passed written exam and a signoff needed to take the Practical Test. I failed during the oral, really didn't answer the questions on icing and weather well at all. Part of it was I was just about to publish my first book, and it was a big one (near 800 pages as I recall). Not a good thing to be trying two difficult things at the same time. So I opted for the book, and went on to write two more (similarly long) books.  During the last almost 20 years, I've averaged anywhere from 5 to many more hours. In 2002 or 2003 I flew a Cessna VFR from San Diego to Florida and back. That was one of the years I had more than 5 hours :-)

Fast track to today. I have passed the Instrument written again (more confidently, the technology for studying is so much better). I've got a few ILS approaches under my belt, and weekly lessons.

In this blog, I'll share some of the process, and what I learn as I get my instrument ticket. But first, let's talk about my flight yesterday.

Piper Cherokee (PA-28-161/A)

0.9 hours


Flight profile:
Depart runway 28L MYF, V23, touch and go Carlsbad (CRQ) runway 24, south along V23, full stop runway 28L MYF.

On a 45 to left downwind, rwy 24, CRQ

Interesting things on this flight:

The first interesting thing was during run-up on 28L, ground asked me to do an VOT check. They were looking to see if the VOT was operating, but I went ahead and did a full check of both VOR receivers in the plane. That was a first (being asked to help out the tower with a check of their equipment), but I was happy to oblige (and able to, since VOT checks are something you learn to do as an IFR pilot).

Second interesting thing is that it appears now that MYF tower, for aircraft approaching the airport to land south along the coast (and presumably above 3300 MSL due to class Bravo and terrain restrictions which would make flying this below 1300 unsafe), are requesting aircraft turn inland only once past (south of) Mount Soladad. I remember getting dinged by the examiner during the IFR checkride for not doing this way back in 1997, but it is only recently that the tower is now requesting it. Perhaps it was just a good practice back then.

Third interesting thing. As I was flying back to MYF down V23 at 3500, there was a Cessna below. I was monitoring 119.6 (socal approach) once Carlsbad Palomar gave me the nod to frequency change, and looks like this 172 was with them, perhaps flight following. The chatter indicated to me this person was visiting and somewhat unfamiliar with flying in the area, and so cal was helping them get to MYF with vectors and the like. Most of the way down V23 the plane was at my 2:30 and looked to be at around 1300 feet. Anyway, when I switched to MYF tower to call in for landing, they alerted me to the aircraft, and I responded that they were in sight. I told them I was going to do some s-turns to give us some spacing. I think they were just turning base to final for 28L when I was turning downwind to 28L from my 45 degree inbound leg, so I guess the spacing was just about right.

Perhaps the most notable thing about this flight happened on the ground before takeoff. As typical in the club these days, the person before me didn't put in a fuel order after landing so I after visually inspecting fuel levels, I walked back to Gibbs as I always do to put in a fuel order. I always check the fuel first knowing that I'll do the complete preflight while I wait for the fuel truck to arrive and do it's thing. Two pilots (I assume CFI and student) were tying down a 172 right next to me, and I asked "How was it up there?" At a minimum, doing this I will find out if it was turbulent, or not. Sometimes I find out more.

This time, I was told about a visit to San Diego from Vice President Joe Biden that might affect my flight.

Turns out, he was due to flying into SAN (Lindberg Field), and so there was a TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) for the region close to that airport because of his visit. Now, I would have heard about it on the ATIS, but they wouldn't have provided details.

Back at Gibbs, I used my iPhone to visit, and scanned the list of active TFRs. Sure enough, a TFR was in effect for a 3 mile radius from the 133 radial, at or below 2999 feet during the time I was going to fly. My plan was to fly the VFR corridor which would have taken me right above this TFR. Being above the TFR is ok, but then again, it was time to think a bit.

The thought process went like this: the VFR corridor southbound forces me at 3500 feet (southeast heading, odd thousand + 500 feet), so I clearly had room (500 feet) to spare. What if I had an engine out, or similar issue like a fire, while in that area? I'd have to declare an emergency, get over SAN, and circle down and land. But that would have put me in the middle of the TFR. Would such an emergency have happened? Almost certainly not. Would my flying over the TFR with 500 feet to spare have caught the attention of controllers on the ground? Almost certainly. Would it make them nervous? I don't know. Would they send up jets to escort me away if my altimeter was suddenly off kilter and I was below the VFR corridor and in the TFR? Point is, it raised for me as a pilot scenarios that I had to think about. But by going north to Carlsbad, I didn't need to worry about any of them (at least, related to the TFR) and that choice wouldn't detract from my goal for the day, which was to get up and fly a bit. So going to Carlsbad was the right choice.

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